My 20% rule for accomplishing goals

Editor’s Note: Every month we send out a newsletter with info on upcoming events, giveaways and links to stuff we love. Late last year, I started writing a more personal note in the newsletter that ended up being a pep talk of sorts. We’re now publishing these newsletters here on the blog. This is one of this series of ‘pep-talks’ + you can find more inspiration hereP.S. – If you’re interested in getting our newsletter, click here.

Last week we had one of those rare cool summer nights that I’ve been longing for. I went to the coat closet to find something warm.

It was dark though, and I wasn’t sure which jacket I’d grabbed. But after struggling to squeeze my arm into the sleeve, I knew immediately it was my 80s purple leather wonder jacket.

This jacket no longer fit (thanks to my lovely husband, who’s a chef and never spares on butter), but I couldn’t bear to say goodbye to it because:

  1. It once belonged to a celebrity and was passed down to me by a friend whose mom worked for the actress when we were in high school.
  2. I wore the jacket A LOT in my 20s and 30s. Wherever I see it, memories of years when I thought I had SO MANY THINGS to worry about come flooding back.3. The jacket once fit me perfectly and made for interesting party conversations when I mentioned that its original owner used to date Prince.

So, getting back to my plus-size self trying to squeeze into that piece of celebrity fashion… Before I hung the jacket back in the closet, I reached into the pocket. My hand slipped through a hole in the lining and I found a cocktail napkin.

My first thought was that it was something that belonged to the actress. That somehow, in all the years I worn it, I’d never discovered this piece of celebrity paraphernalia. I opened the napkin and recognized the barely legible handwriting immediately. It was mine.

It was a short list of things that I wanted to do— from back in the day when I wrote poetry and to-do lists on cocktail napkins and the backs of receipts. This list from my wild unplugged past didn’t have far-flung plans on it like learning Italian, writing the great American novel or taking a cross-country road trip…  it had practical things on it, like drink more water, join a gym and try to meditate every day.

Even more surprising was that the leather jacket list was pretty similar to a list I’d just written in January 2017.

I could’ve really beat myself about this. I haven’t been to the gym in three years. Meditation and drinking enough water aren’t always getting done.

But I stopped myself right there. I am infinitely better at taking care of myself than when I was 30. I don’t do cross fit but I walk every morning with my dog. I don’t meditate for 30 minutes every day, but I do set aside at least 5 minutes a day for deep breathing.

The wonder jacket list was just a reminder from the universe to KEEP GOING. Progress is better than perfection. I also thought about my 20% rule.

This might sound weird, but sometimes I try to accomplish a goal at 20% instead of 100%. Whatever your goal is, if you try 20% harder than you did before, you’ll likely be closer to reaching it. And, you’ll feel the pure joy of moving ahead without the guilt of not doing enough.

There’s also something seriously motivating about improvement (even if it’s just 20%) and hopefully, that motivation will fuel you to push past 30%, 50% and even 80%.

What do you have on YOUR wonder jacket list? Maybe it’s being more creative and taking a painting or drawing class, or finally letting go of your fear of failure to start the business you’ve always dreamed of (if so, join us at our Craftcation Conference next spring) — or maybe it’s just keeping up with the laundry and dishes on the sink.

Just remember, you’re in charge of your own timeline. You set your goals and you care about whether you hit your mark (or not) more than anyone else on the planet.

And, if in 10 years you find your worn intentions list in the pocket of celebrity’s jacket (like I did), hopefully you can relish in the fact that you’re doing just a little better at drinking more water (like I have) but still struggling with other things (like I am).

Or, maybe, you’ll be doing a whole lot better because you tried for progress –– not perfection.

-Nicole S.

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