You've been lied to.
I'm sorry to be the bearer of such bad news, but you've been lied to. And it gets worse: you've been lied to by some of the people you admire and look up to, the most.
Specifically, you've been told that you should always give it your best. That you should always give 100%. Perhaps even 110%.
That is the path to success and excellence, is it not? That's how the rich and famous managed to climb to their position in life.
In reality, this is an idea that, if followed in earnest, will keep you small, weak and frustrated.
The 80% rule (watch the video, to see what it's all about) is true for everyone. And I believe that the approach of doing 80% and continually improving in small increments can work for everyone.
This may not be the thing you need to focus on, right now.
How can you know? It simply depends on your current work ethic. If you have a strong work ethic and you tend to work too much (as many entrepreneurs do), then applying the 80% rule will help you make more progress, faster.
But if your main problem is that you are unmotivated, lack discipline and generally struggle with getting yourself to do anything, then it's a different story. You shouldn't take this advice to mean that you need to reduce how hard or how much you work by 20%, no matter what.
Also, this percentage doesn't relate to the number of hours you put in. If you're currently sitting in front of a screen for 10 hours a day, but you spend most of that time on social media and with low-level busywork, switching to 8 hours a day isn't going to magically help you make more progress.
It seems like a contradiction, at first. I'm telling you to only put in an 80% effort, but to work with deliberate, distraction-free focus. I'm telling you to try less hard and steadily improve at the same time.
How can those go together?
It comes down to two things: ego and shipping.
You need to focus on shipping as discussed in this podcast series. Getting something done and published/released is a higher priority than making it perfect. And it's a higher priority than doing your best.
Now, upon reading this, your ego may be protesting. If you don't give your best, if you don't make it perfect, won't that make you look bad? What will other people think? What if you create a piece of work and that piece of work isn't a reflection of the very best you can do, won't people think that you are worse than you really are? That's unacceptable!
Impressing other people and managing your public or social image is not as important as shipping. It's not as important as getting on with it and investing in steady, long term growth.
You need to start getting more attached to the distant goal of becoming a badass in the future and less attached to the immediate goal of seeming like a badass, even though you aren't one yet.
I'd love to hear about your perspective on this. I've created a lot of content recently that explores solutions to the deepest and most common issues I see entrepreneurs struggle with. I'm trying to get a message out there that makes a difference. But I know that if you're stuck in a procrastination-by-perfectionism loop or if you struggle to get any work done at all, it's very difficult to change.
There are two things you can do, to help me on my quest to get entrepreneurs unstuck:
Looking forward to learning from you.
I'm the founder of ActiveGrowth and Thrive Themes and over the last years, I've created and marketed a dozen different software, information and SaaS products. Apart from running my business, I spend most of my time reading, learning, developing skills and helping other people develop theirs. On ActiveGrowth, I want to help you become a better entrepreneur and product creator. Read more about my story here.
“Follow Your Passion” Will Get You Stuck – But So Will Working Hard, Just for the Sake of It
Pay VERY Close Attention to Your Failures – They Hold the Keys to Your Success
To Reach Your Goals, You Need to Be Stubborn (About the Right Kind of Thing)
The 80% Rule – Unraveling Our Culture’s Greatest Myth About High Performance
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