The 80% Rule

80% Rule an artist's life behind the scenes The 80% Rule

There's something about this piece I don't like. It makes me squirm a little every time I see it. I've been tempted to toss it altogether, to start over, or maybe, even, to not try this design again. When I began this project, I had an idea in my head of how it would turn out, and that idea was perfect. The end product is not.

Several years ago, one of my favorite artist friends shared a video with me called "The Secret to my Productivity." (insert nauseous emoticon here) It's a terrible title and if I hadn't trusted my friend so much, I would never have watched. But I do and I did and it was hilarious and quick and completely life-changing. Because it introduced me to the concept of 80%.

Here's how it works. This piece is not perfect, but it's at least 80% of where I want it to be. I could spend time and energy trying to get it to 100%. I would have to remove quite a few stitches, which might mar the fabric, so I would be better off scrapping the whole thing and starting all over. This project required 8-10 hours of stitching. So if I began again, I would have to put in all those hours and hope that the second effort gets me closer to perfect. I might do one part better, but not another. Or the perfection goal might shift as I work, leaving me at 80% again.

That's a lot of effort to achieve something so nebulous. I would, in effect, be spinning my wheels, when I could be working on something new, putting into practice all that I've learned on this project. So that's what I choose to do: it's 80% as is, so I release it and move on. I know from experience that next time, my 80% will be further along than it is here. Because I'm growing and getting better all the time. Oh, and by the way, 100% doesn't actually exist. 

Do yourself a favor and watch the video. It's entertaining, very short, and perhaps life-changing. Then share it with a friend who can remind you of the 80% rule whenever you feel tempted to scrap something that isn't perfect. 


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