The Dilemma of 100% 

Do you pour 100% of yourself into every task, pushing limits until you can’t go any further? If you’re nodding your head, this blog post is for you. While it may feel like you’re getting ahead, this “all-in” approach can actually sabotage your ability to succeed in the long run. To play the long game, consider embracing a different philosophy: the Japanese concept of “Hara Hachi Bu.”

 

“Hara Hachi Bu”: The 80% Rule Decoded 

Hara Hachi Bu (腹八分)” is a Japanese phrase that means to stop when your stomach is 80% full. This principle is commonly practiced in the longevity hotspot of Okinawa, Japan, where people are known for their impressive lifespans.

You may not immediately warm up to this approach to eating. After all, aren’t we supposed to have a “separate stomach” for dessert? Our primal instincts might whisper, “You never know when you’ll have the next chance to have this kind of dessert.”

But the magic lies in moderation. The practice teaches us to stop eating just when we still crave more. It might be challenging, but the long-term health benefits are immense.

And here’s the kicker: this philosophy of “stopping when you still want more” isn’t restricted to dining tables. It can be a game-changing approach in other aspects of your life, helping you strike a balance that lets you play the long game.

 

The Sustainable Workout: Find Your Perfect Burn 

Have you ever pushed yourself so hard at the gym that you dreaded even the thought of going back? Instead, what if you aimed for the 80% mark? Picture this: leaving the gym—or the bike trail—feeling not drained but energized, eager for your next session. This approach is not just about altering your physical activity; it’s about embracing a philosophy of sustainable engagement.

 

The Performer’s Encore: Leaving Them Wanting More 

Ever wonder why the best concerts you’ve attended always seem to leave you wanting an encore? Musicians and performers understand the power of leaving the audience craving more. They may have a repertoire that could keep you entertained for hours, but they know the wisdom in holding back just enough to make sure you’ll want to see them again.

 

Clocking Out: The Boundaries of Productivity 

In a recent article for The Wall Street Journal titled “Try Hard, but Not That Hard. 85% Is the Magic Number for Productivity,” Rachel Feintzeig suggests that the sweet spot for optimal productivity is operating at 85% of one’s capacity. This insight pairs beautifully with the “Hara Hachi Bu” principle, which nudges us to moderate our efforts, aiming for approximately 80% of our peak potential to achieve sustainable and effective results.

Complementing this viewpoint is Dr. Burns’ esteemed book, “Feeling Good,” in which he champions the idea of setting structured time limits for tasks as a way to both elevate productivity and uplift mood.

Imagine dedicating yourself to, for instance, four “Pomodoro” sessions for a specific task or project each day. The key is to then discipline yourself to step back after those sessions. Such an approach not only amplifies productivity during those focused intervals but also instills a tangible sense of accomplishment, leaving you contented with your day’s achievements.

 

The Dry Plant Syndrome: Burnout and the Necessity of Self-Care 

Burnout has become a grim reality for many, amplified by the stressors of the pandemic. Think of yourself as a plant that needs regular watering; neglect can lead to withering that’s difficult or even impossible to reverse.

The solution? Apply the philosophy of “Hara Hachi Bu” to your emotional and mental self-care. Regularly allocate time for breaks, relaxation, and activities that rejuvenate you, and aim for the “80% mark” in your overall lifestyle. By doing so, you strike a balance that makes you less susceptible to burnout, more engaged in your pursuits, and better equipped to play the long game.

 

Playing the Long Game: Your Strategy for Long-Term Success 

Life is a marathon, not a sprint. Balance isn’t a compromise; it’s your best strategy. By adopting “Hara Hachi Bu,” you’re not settling—you’re setting the stage for adaptation, flexibility, and most importantly, a long, fulfilling life.

Take Action Now: Embrace “Hara Hachi Bu” for a sustainable, successful life that lasts!