We are all in pursuit of a fulfilling life. We often set high expectations for ourselves across various areas. However, as we navigate the complexities of midlife, it becomes evident that achieving 100% fulfillment in every area of life is a mission impossible. That’s why, at the end of each episode of the Midlife Fulfilled podcast, I close it out by repeating the same message: “If you’re 80% fulfilled, you’re doing great!”
In this blog post, I reveal the rationale behind this statement and why it is true for most of us. And, I suggest it is essential to embrace the concept of the 80% fulfillment rule.
The Five Pillars of Midlife
Midlife spans the longest phase of life, measured in decades, and is characterized by a range of experiences and challenges. When reflecting on our many midlife seasons, I identify five significant areas that encompass our midlife: health, fitness, relationships, career, and legacy. These pillars serve as foundations for personal growth and fulfillment opportunities, influencing our overall well-being, sense of purpose, and joy.
The Challenge of 100% Fulfillment
As individuals, each of us possesses unique aspirations and desires across each of these areas. If we’re honest with ourselves, achieving absolute fulfillment across all five aspects of life is unrealistic at worst and ambitious at best (or vice versa depending on how you choose to look at this).
Consider how you would answer the following questions: Are you in your desired fitness shape? Is your health as good as you want it to be? Are ALL your relationships perfect (including family, friends, work colleagues, and with God, or whatever you substitute for Him)? Is your career precisely where you envisioned it to be? Are you actively building the legacy you want to leave behind?
The answers to these questions will vary for each of us. The common thread for most of us is that few can honestly claim 100% fulfillment across each pillar in our midlife.
The 80% Fulfillment Benchmark
Recognizing the inherent challenges in achieving complete fulfillment, I suggest you embrace the concept of the 80% rule. This is based on the 80/20 principle which I researched and dedicated an episode to explain and how it is in play throughout our life.
By accepting that 80% fulfillment is actually good, you give yourself the grace to acknowledge your accomplishments and appreciate the progress you have made. It’s a reminder that you are doing exceptionally well, even if you think that not reaching complete fulfillment in every aspect of life is a failure. Because it is not a failure!
Midlife Fulfilled Podcast
I was motivated by the 80% rule so much that I reference it at the end of each episode. The Midlife Fulfilled podcast is a resource for individuals to hear personal stories of fulfillment from others like you, as well as experts informing you on a relevant topic in one of the five pillars of midlife. Each episode offers inspiration, encouragement, or insights that resonate with anyone navigating their current midlife season.
Episode 88: A Fan Favorite:
If you’re new to the podcast, start with episode 1 because it is foundational to the purpose of the Midlife Fulfilled podcast. After that, a fan favorite is episode 88. This Maximum episode features Paul Roetzer on How You Can Harness AI for Midlife Career Advancement. Another fan favorite is episode 39. A. Lee Judge shares his BF to AF story about finding fulfillment in letting his previous identity die.
Yet another fan favorite is the Maximum episode featuring Tom Schreier, Founding Director of the Inspired Leadership Initiative at the University of Notre Dame explaining this encore education program for midlifers who are looking to figure out their purpose in the next chapter of their life.
Whether it’s a personal BF to AF story or an educational Maximum episode, listeners of the Midlife Fulfilled podcast always hear a captivating story that sheds light on the path to fulfillment.
Embracing the Journey
We live in a world that attempts to convince us that we can achieve perfection. It’s easy to fall into the trap of self-criticism, believing that you’re not enough. However, the path to 80% fulfillment lies in embracing the journey, and realizing that across the five pillars of midlife, we’ll probably never get it all right. And, that is okay. By adopting the 80% rule, you can liberate yourself from the burdensome expectation of perfection and give yourself permission to experience joy and success where you are.
You’re Doing Great at 80%
Midlife is a multifaceted season that encompasses at least three decades, often more. Striving for complete fulfillment is like trying to run 100 marathons without stopping. Embracing the 80% rule provides a healthier perspective, allowing you to celebrate your accomplishments and be content with what you have achieved. So, if you’re on the midlife journey and find yourself at 80% fulfillment, know that you are doing great.
And, remember, the Midlife Fulfilled podcast is here to guide, inspire, and remind you that you are not alone in your pursuit of a fulfilling life. Embrace the journey, appreciate the people you meet along the way, and celebrate when you can point to that 80% mark—because if that’s where you are, you’re doing great!
Image by katemangostar on Freepik