Pocket Scrapbooking with Project Life

Cultivate a good life and record it.



good life by bettijo hirschi

Part of cultivating a good life is accepting imperfections.

I blog over at Paging Supermom with my friend and fellow perfectionist Aimée. We have a lot of fun and have created some really wonderful things together. In fact, we are so good at pushing each other to be better that we can literally spend hours tweaking a good concept trying to achieve absolute perfection.

As you can imagine, this kind of effort is utterly exhausting. Not only mentally tiring but also a drain on a mother’s most precious commodity… TIME!

About two years ago, Aimée started talking about the 80/20 rule. I’m not sure where exactly she heard about it. Seems like I remember her saying it was something her husband had told her about (probably in an effort to drag her away from the computer at three in the morning), and it really has been revolutionary in our work.

The 80/20 rule is explained on the internet in many different forms, but the way we’ve defined it in our lives is that there is a minimum effort involved in any project that yields an 80-percent perfect solution. While we could spend more time trying to get things to 100 percent, the additional effort and time required just isn’t worth it. An 80-percent result is good enough.

To some this idea might sound like permission to produce mediocre results, and in the beginning I may have agreed. Growing up, my hard-working parents instilled in me a desire to always be and do my very best. As I’ve grown, I found that my very best can be quite impressive, but it is also very time consuming! To me this idea isn’t at all about being lazy, but rather it helps me juggle all the various demands on my time. If there is ever going to be any hope of having enough time, then I need to find a way to get through my to-do list faster.

Aimée was actually much quicker to embrace this 80/20 concept, but after a couple years of hearing her say, “It’s 80 percent! Let’s move on,” the idea is starting to work on me.

When I was invited by Becky to share some thoughts on cultivating a good life, I pondered about the different topics I could discuss. None seemed as critical as being able to accept good enough.

In my work it means that once I’ve reached an acceptable level of satisfaction — even if I can think of a dozen time-consuming ways to make something better — it is time to move on.

In my personal life it means accepting that my home might only ever be 80-percent clean (if I’m lucky!). It also has helped me have more appreciation for my children’s best efforts. Their 80-percent result in cleaning the bathroom is very different than mine, but the effort is still applaudable. Expecting perfection of our children is one of the quickest ways to disappointment.

In fact the same is true for life. I know at least for me, the only way to be happy is to learn to be satisfied with good enough.

About the photo :: This photo was our family picture for 2008. With a toddler and infant, we had a tough time capturing the perfect pose, but I’ve always loved this image for being a true, imperfect but still beautiful snapshot of our family life. It was taken by Erika Loveland.

Note from Becky

I’m not even sure when I first met Bettijo, but I’ve always been impressed with her great work ethic, positive vibe, and generous heart. We’ve had the opportunity to spend a little time together on a few occasions because she’s a fellow Arizonian. I for one want to shout “amen!” to what she has shared and I think it’s a message that so many women need to hear right now.

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3 Responses

  1. Karen Watts-Edwards says:

    Bettijo- I love this post. I also struggle with perfectionism and the deadly combination of “all or none” thinking. That means that I sometimes put important things off until I can do them “perfectly!” I love your thoughts on this and especially how perfectionism robs us of time! And how it robs us of help too because, really, who can ever do it as well as we can, lol! I like Julie Morgenstern’s version of the 80-20 rule. Only 20% of what you do needs your full excellence! (If you substitute excellence for perfectionism it sounds so much better) Things like client presentations, content for a web site that is grammatically correct and free from misspellings. The rest can be 80%- GOOD ENOUGH! Thanks for this!

  2. Alicia Wright says:

    Boy does this speak to me! My perfectionist side ruled my life for years, until I adopted a friend’s mantra: BETTER DONE THAN PERFECT! When I can follow this I notice my stress level is much lower!

  3. Kathyb says:

    I need tips on how to accept the 80% done rule. Any suggestions?