Nope, Mastery Is Not a Requirement for Happiness and Fulfillment

I’ve been a member of a club that I never knew existed until recently.

I learned about this club when I read Yvon Chouinard’s book, “Let My People Go Surfing.”

“I like to throw myself passionately into a sport or activity until I reach about an 80 percent proficiency level,” Chouinard says.

“To go beyond that requires an obsession that doesn’t appeal to me. Once I reach 80 percent, I like to go off and do something totally different.”

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Is that allowed?

All my life, I thought I had some kind of defect. 


Imagine my relief to discover that it’s just fine to be an 80-percenter.

It’s not just fine, in fact.

It’s awesome!

Eighty percenters spend most of their lives in the steep part of the learning curve, where progress comes at breakneck speeds.

Uncertainty is high, and the next step is scary and unknown.

That is where I live and where I love to be.

None of this is to take away from 100-percenters.

Remember when Michael Jordan tried his hand at baseball?

Aren’t you glad he went back to basketball?

Hundred percenters inspire us. inspiration success hard wrok

They push the limits of human possibility.

The world needs 100-percenters.

But the world needs 80-percenters, too.

In today’s world, there is so much pushing you to just.

Stick. With. It.

Pick one thing, and do it until you die (or at least until you retire).


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Carl Richards


Carl Richards is a Certified Financial Planner and a columnist for the New York Times, Morningstar magazine and Yahoo Finance. He is author of 2 books, The Behavior Gap & The One-Page Financial Plan. Carl lives with his family in Park City, Utah. You can find his work and sign up for his newsletter (which has an international audience) at

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