Why We Should Cut Ourselves Some Slack

I came in from work this evening via Sainsbury’s, having done the weekly shop on my way home, and decided that after dinner I would write my blog, practice the harp and book tickets for Sing-A- Long-A-Sound of Music at the Everyman Theatre in Cheltenham, before I even think about writing up any notes or doing any research for work. I consciously thought that I needed to do things just for me for a while.

It’s good to want to do something well, but we can’t always do everything perfectly because we will drive ourselves mad trying, and quite possibly all those around us too. I have to admit that I confine my tendencies towards perfectionism to certain areas of my life. I am not a perfectionist when it comes to housework – in fact I’m quite happy to live with my papers and books and any other current project, strewn around the room.

The area where I tend most towards perfectionism is probably my work, because my work has always been front-line work with people. A lady I used to know who was once a Nurse, and at the time was working in retail, told me that she used to be very stressed and anxious to get things right all the time because someone’s life was at stake if she made a mistake. Now that she is selling clothes, she said that it really isn’t life of death if she doesn’t have the right black skirt in stock.

Perfectionism can take up too much time and leave not enough time for enjoying yourself. Whatever a perfectionist does it will never be quite enough. Just a little bit more, just a little bit better is how the perfectionist sees life. I have studied alongside those who have to get perfect marks for every essay. As Pareto found,

The 80/20 principle – that 80 percent of result flow from just 20 per cent of the causes – is the one true principle of highly effective people.

As Julia Cameron says, quoted on brainyquote.com,

Perfectionism is not a quest for the best. It is a pursuit of the worst in ourselves, the part that tells us that nothing we do will ever be good enough – that we should try again.

My blog on Thursday will be on How To Cut Yourself Some Slack.