“If a thing is worth doing….”

This entry is part 1 of the series Motivational Quotes

If a thing is worth doing

I was brought up with the saying, “If a thing is worth doing, it’s worth doing well.”

So I grew up thinking if I couldn’t do it well, it obviously wasn’t worth doing at all!

Why do anything if it wasn’t going to turn out perfectly?

Then the other day, I was startled to stumble across this expression:

'If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly.' G.K.Chesterton. Really? Click To Tweet

As I pondered this unusual expression, I came to see the danger in the original belief. “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well.” Doesn’t that paralyse us with a fear of failure? Isn’t only the Lord perfect?

Confession time here:

I hate to fail! I would rather not tackle a project than do it and fail. It puts me under an inordinate pressure to perform to the best of my ability.

Last year, I faced a book deadline, which I was battling to reach, followed with an already planned Book Launch (for the book that wasn’t yet published), I had family traveling to join me for the Book Launch—and I got flu. All at once. Just before, and immediately after the flu, (and before the Book Launch) my husband and I went on two family visits in different directions, but both approximately four hours drive away from home.

I had computer problems. (But of course! That’s inevitable when there is a deadline involved!) And my blood pressure shot off the charts, involving three trips to the emergency room.

You think that was bad enough?

D’you want to know the real killer?

I had signed up to do the A to Z Blogging Challenge! And that meant 26 posts on one topic, ranging from A to Z. I had to do it! I had to produce a good post on each letter on the topic, which I may add required a good deal of research. Why did I have to do it? Because I’d committed myself to doing it. All the well-meaning teachings of my childhood flooded in.

  • You can’t break a commitment.
  • Your word is your bond. You said you’d do it.
  • You believe the topic is worth doing . . . and if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well!
  • I’m a Christian. If I don’t complete it on time, I will let the Lord down.

Now you understand, each of these were important!

  • The Book Launch was organised. It would be very inconvenient to a lot of people to change the date.
  • There couldn’t be a launch for a book that was not yet available. So it had to get done.
  • The family visits? Both could probably have been postponed to a more convenient date, but I really wanted to see my brother and family on the one visit, and my son and family on the other.
  • And the A to Z? I love the A to Z Challenge. But how important was it? I could have dropped from the challenge and still covered the topics at a later stage! But that would have meant failure! And that would never do! If the job was worth doing . . . it was worth doing well!



As I thought of G.K.Chesterton’s rendition of the phrase, I saw this so clearly. I could still have done the challenge. But I could have done it badly! I could have said, “No way! This is too much pressure. It is causing too much stress. I believe in the topic, and I want to do it. But I’m going to do it after the book launch!”

I started to think of all the other times I’ve persevered with projects for really one reason only: to give it up would have meant failure! I had started it. I needed to do it well! Which meant I had to complete the task.

Renewing of your Mind?

I’ve always taken this passage of Scripture to mean I must make everything perfect. But is it perhaps saying, take another look at what you’re doing? Maybe it’s time for a fresh approach. A renewed way of thinking?

The article I was reading (and unfortunately, I can’t remember where this was) gave several examples.

  • If you don’t have time (or motivation) to take a bath—rather wash your face and hands than do nothing.
  • If you can’t face making a well-balanced meal—eat an apple instead of going hungry.

I can think of others.

  • If you can’t get a full-time job—get a part-time job. Just do something!
  • If you can’t get up early in the morning— get up later! But get out of that bed!
  • If you can’t be bothered getting up and getting dressed—get up! And wear your PJs.
  • If I can’t visit someone in hospital every second day—I can at least go once and show I care.

The idea of doing things badly frees me up. It doesn’t mean I need to turn out shoddy work, but it does give me a license to try something new. If it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t matter! I don’t have to wait until the perfect moment to start.

If I try a new restaurant and it doesn’t work out well, that’s fine. I’ve learned for next time.

If I start out on a book topic and realise it’s not going the way I’d hoped, I can change my mind. I may come back to it later, or I may never come back to it. And guess what? The world will keep on turning!

A cure for stress and anxiety?

Since coming across this expression, I’ve found a huge relief from stress.

If we allow ourselves the freedom to avoid always needing perfection, we will find it is true. If a thing is worth doing, it’s worth the risk that it might not be perfect. But at least we’ll have tried!

So how about adopting this attitude for a period and see if it doesn’t free you of some anxiety and pressure?

What do you think? Can you think of something you could tackle if you take this attitude? 

If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing badly!

Tell me what you think in the comments below, and as always, if you leave a URL, I will get visit you back!

Have a great week!