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The 2/3 Rule: How to Choose & Turn Down the Right Projects


1.) Is it Enjoyable?

2.) Am I passionate about it?

3.) Is the Timing Right?

I can’t take complete credit for this.

This rule actually came from an Australian guy named Tom who, after 2 days of knowing me, joined me on the MicroExpedition of kayaking the circumference of Lake Atitlan, Guatemala. He was currently en route taking a rest in town cycling from San Francisco, CA to Tierra del Fuego, Patagonia. As we rowed, we talked of many topics under the sun, including the website and graphics to tell the story of his trip on TheDirtyTwo.com. The logo for his trip, which I love, was designed, gratis, with these very rules in mind by a well-known graphic designer in the Australian surfing community.

As soon as he described these rules to me, I decided there and then they’d be mine as well.

Why Only 1 out of 3 Won’t Work

Here’s a scenario for you:

Below I’m going to share with you a particular project that, looking back on these 3 rules, didn’t hold true to having at least 2 out of the 3. The project was a campaign to raise money for a particular nonprofit that was doing absolutely wonderful things for its cause. Looking back, here’s how it stood in the 2/3 rule:

1.) Was it Enjoyable: Yes – I loved the idea of the campaign, I loved the people I was working with, and I loved developing the idea and seeing it through to fruition. Overall, I found the entire process quite enjoyable.

2.) Was I Passionate About It: No – The thing is, there are a lot of amazing causes out there. Some of them I hold much nearer and dearer to my heart. And while I believed wholeheartedly in what they were doing, it just, wasn’t one of the causes that I define myself as standing for. Because of this, I wasn’t as motivated as I could have been to put in the long hours and do the not-so-fun tasks that passion makes effortless.

3.) Was the Timing Right?  No – This particular campaign took a few months to put together. It became a bit too big, and required a lot of time management in order to make it happen. Because of this, I became stressed over the project, and this hindered my creativity and enthusiasm.

If you only have 1 out of 3, then think twice about taking on this project.

If you have 2 out of 3, or even better, 3 out of 3, then it’s definitely something worth investing your time and resources on.

But How Do I Turn Down Ideas?!

For those of you who are idea people that get incredibly excited about others’ projects that you can’t help but want to lend a hand, think about this:

There is going to be someone else out there who, when thinking about the project, scores a 2/3 or 3/3. These people, simply stated, will find the project more enjoyable than you, will be more passionate about it than you, and will be more content with investing their time in it than you. This means they can do a better job, they can get more creative, and then can contribute more.

I am more inspired than anything by other people’s psych. I find it contagious. The light in their eyes lights up my soul, and I will care about their project and their mission with so much enthusiasm and love that I will take it on as my own.

But the thing is, for me, this rings true 100% of the time when it comes to support and belief in them, but when it comes to actually being part of it, I must have 2/3 to maintain this.

Summing It Up:

I believe one of the most rewarding things you can do is donate your time, resources and skills to people with ideas and projects worth supporting. I’m not sure much else makes me feel better than someone saying, “Hey, thank you Lauren.” for a job well done and for having made a difference in what they’re doing. It just feels so damn good! 🙂

By taking on something like the 2/3 rule, you’ll be better to better serve those that you’re able to best serve.

Enjoy. Passion. Timing.

About Lauren Rains

Hi my name is Lauren Rains. I write about the human experience. Through thick and thin, I’m dedicated to growth, adventure, integrity, and love. The Mad To Live is based on my pursuits, experiments, research, and lessons of challenge and triumph in all areas of life, including being entrepreneur, a writer, a philosopher, a traveler, a teacher, a student, a creative, a friend, a daughter, a sister, a significant other, a stranger and the list goes on. At the end of the day, I believe human beings are here for two reasons: 1.) to love one another with total acceptance, and 2.) to see what we’re made of as we create the possibilities for an abundant life for ourselves and for others. No more bullshit, let's just enjoy our lives.

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  • Duuude. YES. This is awesome. When you’re working for yourself, you have to come up with these type of brain tricks + processes, because otherwise we try to do everything all the time. Having this sort of boundary in place makes it easier to make decisions and do better work. xoxo

  • Liz Redesigned

    Good timing on this read…I have a huge life changing project on the “idea block” and I am not sure the timing is right, but the other two rules are over the top…still trying to figure it out…but I think I have to see how to make the timing right 🙂 Nice to meet you Lauren!

    • I know what you’re talking about! I’m sure this process will help you sort of narrow it down : )