ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How Much Effort Should You Put Into An Interim 'Good-Enough' Job?

Updated on October 3, 2014

Are you overloaded with projects? Under stress, having a rough time in a toxic workplace, swamped with module deadlines for your degree course, depressed and unable to cope with the demands your life is placing on you?

If you’re something of a perfectionist then this can aggravate matters still further. Not only do you require yourself to fulfil all of your obligations, but also to do so with excellence, effort and dedication. But is that always realistic? (I ain't saying I don't know how it feels. If you do a job you want to do it right, right? I'm just saying, is it realistic?

There’s a famous quote usually attributed to Woody Allen about success being mostly about just showing up in the first place – I believe he put it at around eighty per cent. The comment is usually taken to be hilariously self-deprecating, but I believe there’s a deeper meaning and seriousness behind it.

Quote on Ambition

“Women who seek to be equal with men lack ambition.”
Timothy Leary.

After all, if you fail to show up in the first place then you can simply say goodbye right there to one hundred per cent of any results you might have achieved. A perfectionist might have it that it’s better not to show up at all than to do anything other than a real bang-up top of the line job. But is that true? Is it in fact worth showing up just to put another bum on a seat, to do the minimum and show your face?

I think in fact perhaps it is. To begin with, the ‘showing up’ and ‘doing the minimum’ parts are the labels for your actions in your head, before you actually do show up and get going on your work/tasks/project/course. When you actually turn up and swipe your card or sign your attendance rota, it’s actually quite hard to stick to doing the bare essentials and watching the clock.

I don’t just mean that your boss, teachers, supervisors or whoever will be whipping you along and getting you to put your back into it. I mean that real life provides a whole lot more stimulus than your mental image and expectations of an event. In practice, you have co-workers telling you jokes and asking you for help with their spreadsheet, fellow-students running up and asking you for help with their study group, a subject in class that sets off a whole train of thought and re-inspires you. But you have to actually be there in the first place for these moments of inspiration and spurs to action to occur in the first place.

It’s kind of the opposite of the Bible injunction to ‘avoid the occasion of sin’, i.e. to avoid temptation including those places and people that provide an environment conducive to temptation. If you show up for your project, class, band practice, then you’re setting up a virtuous (rather than vicious) circle, where incidents and people are likely to spur you on to greater efforts than you initially felt capable of.

So how much can ‘just showing up’ do? How much value should we credit it with in relation to our achievements? I don’t think it’s unreasonable to invoke the Pareto Principle as well as Woody Allen: maybe that’s what he was thinking of when he gave it eighty per cent of the credit. Just being there can produce so many more good results than we might think in anticipation, things we couldn’t have predicted without the assistance of a crystal ball. The ‘law of precession’ has been attributed to the famous architect Buckminster Fuller: the rule that all kinds of helpful incidents and objects and people cross our path – just as long as we take that initial positive action – such as showing up!

So it is worth ‘showing up’ in a half-hearted manner? Is it worth ‘doing the minimum’? Hell yeah – it’s got to be better than doing nothing, it’s psychologically easier to tell yourself that that’s all you’re going to do and thus lower your expectations – and you could be pleasantly surprised at the results!


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)