A happier life with the 80% formula

Of course you are going for the best, but does this really make you happy? If you learn to be satisfied with eighty percent, you will live a more balanced life and feel better about yourself. In this article you can read how (and why) this works.

Letting go of the strict requirements you set for yourself and setting the bar less high isn’t about failure or being lazy and doing less.  It is about knowing what’s good for you personally and what makes you happy. The measure of happiness is different for everyone. Live to your own standards and not those of the outside world.

Always giving a 100% takes a lot of energy

Always striving towards 100% or ‘perfection’ takes a lot of energy, while 80% or ‘good enough’ could perhaps make you happier. The large scientific research done by The University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business in 2012 shows that ambition and perfectionism can help to ensure more and bigger success in life but in the long term this does not bring happiness. The researchers found that people who were less driven, felt happier. That’s not surprising. If you always set the bar very high and strive to perfection, it is easy to not be happy about something because it doesn’t reach your strict requirements. This will bring all sorts of negative emotions and even stress along.


You can achieve anything you want, that’s the message our generation has been given. Dancing through the living room, dressed as Madonna and singing loudly along with “Material girl”. We’re power-women and have lots of options in life.
We have all possibilities for a “Happier life”. We can choose from a variety of courses and all sorts of education, going for that dream job, combining jobs with potential motherhood or go for motherhood without a fulltime job for a while.
These are choices our mothers and grandmothers often did not have. It’s a luxury, and we try to combine all this in the best possible way. This can cause stress, because you have set the bar high. Yes, you did do that study. Yes, you got that dream job, relationship or became a mother. But on the way to the Promised Land, it was less fun then expected. Perfectionism got in the way and your life became a never-ending rat race.

‘Good enough’ = More success

Authors Becky Beaupre Gillespie and Holly Schwartz Temple of the book “Good enough is the new perfect: Finding Happiness and Success in Modern Motherhood” can talk from personal experience about this matter. Before writing their book, they did a two-year research among 905 working mothers born between 1965 and 1980. In this study they distinguished two types of working mothers: the 100% women and the 80% women. The first group always feels the urge to do everything very well, while the 80% women are pleased with good enough. This study also shows that women who are pleased with good enough are happiest. They find it easier to have quality time for themselves, feel more connected to their partner, have more fun in life and are also more successful. The 100% women experience more guilt feelings and frustration. Trying to be perfect at everything you do and work very hard to achieve a successful and happy life could cause the opposite effect.

Maybe it’s time to let some things go…

In Dutch Santé magazine (january issue 2015) you can find a longer article from me about this subject.

Picture: Dustin Adams

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