The rule that will change your life

by Kim on January 3, 2011 · 27 comments

The 2% Rule

I’ve written a bit about my fear of failing to fulfill my dream of traveling the world and writing.  But I haven’t yet written about the other side of that coin, the fear of actually doing it.  That fear lies not in the act of travel itself but in something less tangible: in giving up life as I know it, I risk the chance of never getting the good parts of it back.  I know that quitting my job and selling all of my stuff isn’t exactly a life or death decision, but sometimes it does feel as though I’m making a choice that could permanently mess up my life.   

Intellectually I know that it is ridiculous to believe that taking a year or so off from the rat race when I am 30 years old will negatively impact me for the rest of time.  Logically, I also know that taking a year to travel will more than likely have a positive impact rather than a negative one, and may very well open doors for me that were previously inaccessible.  I do not think that I will look back on my life as an 80-year old woman and curse the day I decided to quit my job and pursue my dream.  I know that.  And yet, there is a primordial fear in leaving a sure thing for an unsure one.  Even when all signs point to yes. 

I was struggling with this fear recently while reading a wonderful and heartbreaking book called “The Council of Dads.”  In it, the author learns he has an aggressive form of cancer.  He is the father of three-year-old twin daughters and as he begins the fight for his life he also begins to prepare for his death.  In order to ensure that his daughters have a strong and supportive male base were he to die, he forms a “council of dads,” friends and mentors of his that agree to help support his daughters by providing them with love and wisdom.  One of those bits of wisdom, The Two Percent Rule, really struck me:

Take a year.  Give it a try.  When you’re fifty years old, you will have spent two percent of your life trying to make your dream come true.  And when you look back, I think you’ll realize it was a good two percent.”


Now, I’m not the kind of girl that is easily persuaded by mathematics, but the two percent rule really resonated with me.  I owe it to myself, we all do, to spend just two percent of life before age fifty pursing our dreams.  Two percent!  It’s such an itty bitty number in the big scheme of things.  Two percent just doesn’t feel that scary.  In fact, when I think about chasing my dreams using the two percent rule, it seems downright silly not to try. 

While I can’t say that the two percent rule has completely stripped away my fear, it has enabled me to look at the riskiness of my choice from a different perspective.  I know I’ll be freaking out in big and small ways until Brian and I are strapped into that metal box in the sky en route to New Zealand, but I also now know that this risk that feels SO BIG is really only 2% big, and I’m okay with that.  In fact, I’m 97% 99% sure of it.