Notice: This post will not appeal to those of you who seek perfection in all that you do, who strive for extremes and ‘ultimates’ and all those other things that rarely happen. This is a post for those of us who choose to live in the real world, know of our imperfections, recognise our limitations, and would seek to make the best of life within the total acceptance of ourselves.
That said, now I’ll let you know what I’m on about.
Being the eldest child in my family of origin, and also a girl who grew up in the ’80s with its ‘sisters are doin’ it for themselves’, shoulder-padded and suited up style, I turned out to be a little bit of an overachiever. At least, that’s what I thought I was.
It’s not like I always got the highest marks, but I did always think I was supposed to. By 23 I had graduated high school with great marks and completed a degree and was entering my dream career in public relations. I thought I had the success thing all stitched up. Well, until it wasn’t.
Then the inevitable (that is, life) happened. And then slowly, over the next 20 years, it became clear that in order to succeed I needed to understand more subtle levels of things than the polar opposites: success or failure, rich or poor, getting everything done or nothing at all.
I am reminded of this now when I don’t quite get to finish that pile of washing up when my baby wants to eat, or when I have to leave the house to drop child number one at school before having brushed my hair, or even looked in the mirror at all sometimes. Having experienced the pressure of seeking perfection and ultimate success at all times (however you might define it), I have noticed that I am happier, and my children are happier, and we are all more relaxed when I let go of outcomes needing to be perfect and go with things just as they are in that moment a bit more.
The 80/20 rule allows me to forgive myself. It allows me to feel proud if 80% of the time I finish things, or hang the washing or have good hair, even if the other 20% of the time I don’t.
It means that if we eat great food for dinner 80% of the time, the other 20% won’t matter too much. It lets me off the hook when I just can’t bring myself to cook from scratch and need to pull something from the freezer of the takeaway menu drawer.
Phew, what a relief. I don’t have to be all things to all people all of the time.
Maybe it’s just me, or do you have those moments where you need reminding?