Have you heard about the rule of thirds?

I recently read a very good memoir: Bravey by Alexi Pappas. Pappas is an Olympian and producer/actor/writer. She has conquered her own demons. Pappas has packed a lot into a relatively young life…

One of the tricks (i don’t know what to call it, so I’ll go with tricks) is the rule of thirds. The rule of thirds is as follows:

When you’re chasing a big goal, you’re supposed to feel good a third of the time, okay a third of the time, and crappy a third of the time

Alexi Pappas Bravey

This explains the success Pappas has had. She is willing to push through the pain in order to achieve her goals.


Does this translate to little goals as well as big ones?

What if your goals are more modest? (Modest goals are okay: you set the rules for your life. You are allowed to have any goal, or no goal…)

My goal is to blog five days a week. I feel good when I blog every single time that I do it. Does this mean I’m doing it wrong? Should I be pushing myself to write deeper, show pain, write better? Should I feel crappy right now as I write?

If you feel lousy a third of the time you are doing something, is it worth doing?

Does the end justify the means?

Which leads me to: what if you embody this rule of thirds, and you go after your goal. You spend years feeling good a third of the time, 2/3 of your life is blah at best. Then something happens at zero hour to derail your goals. Maybe you teammate or coworker gets sick, maybe there’s a fire in your factory, maybe you lose…if you spent years feeling great only 1/3 of the time in pursuit of this goal, how well do you recover? Are you so used to pain that it doesn’t matter? Or are you depressed and feel like you’ve wasted your life?

Lots to discuss here…lots of food for thought.

What do you think? Do you have a goal? How do you feel while trying to accomplish it? Have you accomplished something via the rule of thirds?

What say you all?

53 thoughts on “1/3 1/3 1/3

    1. That’s right…there is a rule of thirds for photos….yeah….I would prefer all or none…the photo is either all good or all crappy


  1. I enjoy most of the things I do, but I’m not trying to win an Olympic medal these days. I set daily goals and usually achieve them without too much pain, if you don’t count an arthritic knee. I wrote three novels, and that involved some serious pain. It was hard. So I guess major goals involve more pain than lesser, easier ones.

    In these twilight years, I’m trying to have fun and be happily productive. Good post. It stimulated me write this.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Since you brought this into context of writing a blog I’ll mention that right now I’m in the crappy 1/3 of my goal to keep my website/blog up and running. After less than a year with my ‘new’ hosting service and all it took to transfer to it back then – I now am faced with the need to transfer yet again to another hosting service. UGH. This time, I’ll be signing up for the 3 yr plan so I don’t face the huge price increases as quickly when it’s up for renewal in 3 yrs. Additionally, the crappy part also includes all the techie stuff that comes with keeping up a website/blog…for me at least.
    So when the crappy 1/3 comes into play, sometimes it’s good to do a quick reevaluation of ‘is it worth it?’ And then either scrap it, re-formulate it or just bang through it.
    That’s my teeny 2cents’ worth.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Well, for me there’s more than the sum of the ‘math’ portion to consider. Often there’s this intangible ‘something’ that pushes on regardless of the ‘crappy percentage’. Until I’m 100% comfortable with a ‘get rid of it’ or ‘I’m all in to continue’ decision.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Very true. I will add that sometimes ‘the good, the bland and the crappy’ aspects towards achieving a goal just need to be set aside, left alone for a time. At some point it can then be through clearer eyes.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I can think of two major goals that probably fit this rule, although I wasn’t conscious of it at the time: getting my degree and getting a divorce. That sounds odd, setting divorce as a “goal” but the label is correct I think. In both cases there was the happy, the okay, and the crappy, but I pushed through because I wanted the goal each time. Don’t think I’d necessarily apply the rule to everyday life goals though. It seems burdensome to anticipate something short term is going to be a slog more than half the time. Why do anything then…

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    1. That’s exactly what I thought. It depends on how big the goal is. Yeah…being an Olympic athlete requires pain and commitment. But other goals? Though I guess motherhood is sort if like that…1/3 the pictures and the memories, 1/3 the first few years and 1/3 the teen years….

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  4. I’ll admit, I’m not totally clear on the 1/3 rule. Are you saying you go through each of those stages in pursuit of a goal? If that’s the case, then it’s worth it.

    I watched a motivational clip about how we need to just go for it! -not entrench ourself in anxiety over failure so much that we won’t take that leap of faith. I disagree, though. You need to jump in the right direction! Otherwise you’ll be stuck with 1/3 or less of satisfying feelings.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I don’t like this idea and I think it’s because there’s a set rule. I think you should feel good most of the time if you’re doing something you want to do, especially if it’s a goal YOU set for yourself…sometimes there will be bad days or you won’t feel like doing it, but 1/3 of the time??? That seems a bit excessive to me.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I thought that too. I think it’s excessive…yet I wonder about people who really overcame stuff, or people who are elite in their field. I’m reading a book about the first all black rowing team, and I was reading it while I waited at the Vet this morning. I’m thinking of this kid struggling to make a better life and how hard it was. So I think in spots it might work. As an overall guide to life, it’s not one size fits all

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh, I saw that movie about the rowing team! So, yeah. I think we should learn to overcome struggles because some things require a push, but setting a fraction/percent on it? No bueno.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I love that you nominated me to answer some questions for Mystery Blogger. Thank you as the old blogs came up. I don’t think you will feel good all the time following a tough goal as life has challenges. With this year, we have had to readjust our goals and self so we adjust with the times. This is more pragmatic.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. When I was finally released from prison and I was free, I realized just how big the world was. It’s way bigger than I ever thought because I wasn’t vlooking at it with my eyes all the way open. Since my release I have only had one thing on my mind. Trying to create a place where people could go and talk and get advice as well as recieve it. I wasn’t always happy about the prospects of doing it. The thought that no one would even join the group I created, kept me a little off set from finishing it. Of course there were up’s and down’s. When I finally made it and seen that people I had invited were actually joining. It made me have this almost euphoric feeling. Then I made this site, and carried over the name of the group I first created. I’ve only ever wanted to help people with what was freely given to me by people who actually cared. Yes, I have been throug the system and I have stood before a judge and was sentenced to a sentence of 5 yrs and 2 yrs to run consecutive with each other for a total of 7 yrs. After serving almost 4 yrs straight I was put out on MRS. (Mandatory Re-Entry) I was alone with my thoughts for a very long time. I knew I was going to change forever when I got out. Only for the better though. So the idea of the rule of 1/3’s seems to me to be accurate. Only because no one is happy about every good thing all the time. I really hope I responded to that food for thought the right way, or explained my side of it correctly to where you guys could understand me. Like I hope it makes sense. Lol!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. LA,
    Uhm… I’m slightly terrified around 95 percent of the time. The other 5 percent, I try and stay distracted and/or inebriated. Anxiety really doesn’t get it’s fair share of the limelight in the scheme of things. I don’t know what that says about me, my goals or anything else, but that’s about the sum of it. Mona

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Doesn’t make sense to me, even in a sporting context. Yes to the fact you’ll spend time feeling good and bad, but thirds? I seriously doubt it will ever split into neat thirds. You have to do what you find comfortable, and what you think the goal is worth, and for us non-Olympians it’s likely that we want a lot more comfort. However, I must also say, what’s an Olympian. Fifty years ago they were people who made great sacrifices and held down jobs as well as training. It’s a lot different these days, so how does the rule of thirds apply now compared to then?

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Badly, I think. Amateurism in sport encouraged corruption and rule breaking ( and that is just a tip of an iceberg of several thousand words I could write on the subject). 🙂

        Professionalism is better, but does encourage a lot of complaining from people who would be considered pampered by the standards of previous generations.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. First shot was 1/3 of the deal, second shot was the second 1/3..waiting the two weeks was the last 1/3..went through all three phases.. ok, crappy and happy to reach this important goal– Congrats to you on this, your official liberation day* (*DISCLAIMER–liberation means different things in different states of course. Follow all applicable laws, rules and don’t embarrass your kid with any happy dances.😉)

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Ah, an excellent topic. I don’t know about the rule of thirds, meaning, I’ve not quite divided up my “feeling time” to find out if this concept is accurate in my life, yet I have small, large, and gigantic goals, and part of creating movement and traction in life, is feeling, well, not so awesome sometimes. Especially when we are asked/choose to venture into the unknown. Yet, for me anyway, that is where all of the hidden gems of life live. In the unknown, and that is also where we can find the “answers” to all of our goals. I would also write, that it’s less about feeling crappy, than it is knowing that, when pursuing a goal, and the bigger the more this holds true, you will experience uncomfortableness and, at times, pain. It’s just part of it. Okay, I’m done, for now…😉

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  12. Depends on the goal? Making bread, writing a memoir, transgendering, skydiving, raising children, cleaning the bathroom, gardening…for the most part it seems to fit. C


  13. When people like Pappas say “goal” I believe they align the definition to something intended to stretch us regardless of whether the goals is small or big, rather than a reprioritization of our time. I feel stress, frustration, and sometimes sadness when I’m stretched. My take of the rule of thirds is if your goal is causing negativity more than a third of the time then you should reassess your strategy for achieving that goal or quit (I’m a firm believer that quitting is an acceptable option). The other two-thirds of the time you should experience being just okay (contentment) and happiness/joy while working on your goals. That being said if chasing goals makes us sad a third of our time, then we probably need to limit how often we are chasing goals and much of our time we spend on the tasks to achieve each goal. Before committing to the goal, should we ask ourselves “Is this goal worth being sad/stressed/frustrated a third of the time while I’m working towards it?” If we answer yes, then I think we’re less likely to tolerate pain ‘just because’ or feel regret when we finish.

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    1. In her case, she was in physical pain from training a third of the tine. She felt like crap. My guess is if you want something enough, you have to endure all the pain because if you don’t feel the pain you aren’t going to achieve it. To me it wouldn’t be worth it, but I never wanted anything that bad…except motherhood….which I talked about the next day. Thanks for very thoughtful comment!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Motherhood is the perfect example and, as you ended the next post, a goal that is worth it. Thank you for the great reflection and discussion!

        Liked by 1 person

    2. I like Alexys’ interpretation. To me it kind of sounded like how life is and I guess everyone’s goal in that is to get through it. For me, it again goes back to the risk/reward idea, though in this case I guess it would be tweaked to a great/good/bad feeling formula. The one third for each works for me in most cases, though I guess in some cases the proportions might be based on the degree of importance of each feeling and how important it is to achieve the goal i.e. what priority it has. Yes, I overanalyze but…

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