I am convinced that’s a sign for the bathrooms. Or maybe Mayhem – the band is playing a gig. In the bathrooms.


Let’s rewind first what 80% rule is all about and then apply it to everything.

We’ve already established that 80% rule works wonders for training. Something that I wrote about in here after being enlightened about it by Max Shank. It means that if you can do 12 reps on a given weight do 9, and so on. Always leave some in the tank.

As with most great training insights, it’s so simple that you’d be forgiven to ignore it.

It works great in the bigger picture of training too when you look at beyond of just sets and reps. Do your session but stop and walk into the sauna when you are 80% done. In the other words, don’t chase tiredness, getting exhausted or gassed out. You get the point.

80% rule applies to eating. Precision Nutrition talks about stopping at 80%. As in, eat and enjoy whatever you’re having, but stop when you feel 80% full. For those mathematically challenged, in Lean Habits Georgie Fear talks about eating “just enough.” It’s more or less the same with different terms.

In the bigger picture of diet, 80% of the time eat a healthy diet focusing on wholefoods. Build each meal around protein, veg, healthy fats and include starches based on your activity levels. When you do that it probably doesn’t matter how the remaining 20% of meals looks. Unless you have a some super-specific goals to get to.

Having this clear rule gives you more freedom with eating.

As Michael Malice mentioned here, he uses 80% for writing (can’t remember if he specifically talked about 80%, but the principle was the same). Write your daily quota, leave few ideas to simmer in the brain and come back to fill up tomorrow’s daily quota.

This keeps you away from writer’s block because you always have something to say. The writing is clearer too when you write 3000 words in two days instead of one. This is no different from training.

And if writing is not your jam you can still apply the same principle to other things. When studying and learning something new, set targets of how much you’ll study each day. Then be content about stopping, leaving more energy in the tank to come back tomorrow.

I hope you’re feeling this because this is a brilliant concept.


How about even bigger picture….like life, and stuff

Lou Schuler talked about this in here. And after thinking about it for a while I tend to agree. And I am paraphrasing him here:

The happiest, healthiest and most content people are those who have reached what they want to achieve in life, about 80%. They haven’t hit all their targets, but they’re 80% there.”

When getting to 100%, some negative things start to happen. You ran out of goals to chase. You might feel empty and unhappy. It’s that “what else is there in life” – question that might pop up.

Keep in mind that 100% means 100%. You’ve reached it all. Only few people truly ever get to this point. Yet, you can get the 100% feeling if you cease to develop, don’t set further goals and become too content with the stagnated living.

I mean, there’s only so much Seinfeld a person can watch in one day.


The other downside of 100%

If you reach 100% of all your goals in professional life and become ultra successful it’s often health and personal relationships that suffer. Getting to that sharp end of success means that a lot of other things need to be sacrificed to get there.

That’s why it’s the sharp, pointy end of the arrow. There’s no room for much more.

Getting to 100% at any activity, be it fitness, a sport, playing guitar, video games, backgammon or whatever doesn’t leave much room for other things in life. You’re great at that one thing. Maybe the best in the world. But it’s likely that’s all you have time for in life. Which is fine if that’s all you want. But it can be lonely.

I’ll rather aim for 80%. Which is why I don’t write like Hemingway.

As you can tell from the links in this post I’ve been digging The Pat Flynn Show – podcast as of late. I highly recommend you check it out. He’s an interesting guy and his guests are no different.