The 80-80 Rule (Incremental Goals)

A friend recently described some dietary goals – eating less meat, being more conscious of food provenance, etc. – and added that he was “only aiming to hit 64% compliance”. Interesting. He added that he had got the idea from a friend and he was aiming to pursue his new food rules by following 80% of the rules 80% of the time. 80% x 80% = 64%.

I really like this idea and am dubbing it “The 80-80 Rule”. (Apologies if this already exists but after some cursory searching I couldn’t locate so am staking the JPA flag on this moniker.)

It seems human nature to lean toward binary outcomes when it comes to goals and habits – we win or lose, are good or bad, succeed or fail. This makes it hard to stick to ideals or goals we want to pursue. January 15th and after a night out we eat a Big Mac and boom – our resolution to avoid fast food in the new year is gone. I broke the rule, failed, and so may as well eat whatever for the rest of the year since I can’t stick to even a simple goal. Perhaps a more lenient take can allow us to incrementally pursue our goals and feel good about progress, even if it’s 64% instead of 100% compliance. After all 64% of 365 days is 234 days we’ve improved in whatever way matters to us.

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John P Anderson

Living in San Diego. I enjoy learning about environmental issues and connecting with good people that want to make the world a better place. Cheers!

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