Alignment, Complexity and the 80/20 rule

Jun 28, 2016

Alignment and the 80/20 Rule |

Dedicating my coaching practice to working with women going through their Third-Life Alignment has got me thinking a lot about what it means to be aligned.


And you know what I’m realizing?

Alignment is complex.


And anyone who tries to convince you that they feel completely aligned in their purpose, their sense of self 100% of the time is a damn liar.

You might be nodding your head and agreeing – of course it’s complex.  Everything is complex.  Life is complex.

But stay with me a little longer here.  Because I’d be willing to bet that there’s at least one person in your life – be they someone you know well or a famous person you admire from afar – that has you convinced, at least as far as their Instagram feed is concerned, that they live a fully aligned life all the time.

And let’s be honest:  seeing the online trappings of others’ seemingly perfect lives makes most of us feel like shit.  At the very least, we point our fingers accusingly and yell “fake!” with an audible twinge of jealousy.

I recently discovered the work of Dr. Robert Kegan, a Harvard psychology professor who has studied adult development and posits a theory that sounds very similar to the Third-Life Alignment concept.  Kegan describes one characteristic of this stage of people’s lives as being an increasing tolerance of complexity and contradiction.  He posits that we have a greater capacity during this time in our lives to conceive of the idea that two seemingly opposite things can both be true.

So to the Instagrammers whose lives look perfect, I propose we yell “boring!” and embrace that alignment probably works on the 80/20 principle.  I propose that we get deeply comfortable with

Pizza nights and green smoothies

Bill-paying day jobs and passionate side hustles

Bold adventures and being afraid of spiders

Living in the ‘burbs and being in a motorcycle club

I propose that we get okay with the fact that some days, weeks, months and even years will find us feeling more aligned with our beliefs, values, and desired ways of being than others.


I propose that we promise ourselves to make the more aligned choice most of the time, and know that that represents a life of just as much integrity as the ideal toward which we strive.

Your turn:


Do you feel more aligned some days than others?
What makes you feel most aligned with your beliefs, values and desired ways of being?
Are there any key areas of your life that feel really aligned, or really misaligned right now?


Are you going through a Third-Life Alignment?