Using the 80/20 Rule to Get You Beyond 100

The 80/20 rule is popping up everywhere and everyone is talking about it.

It is not anything new but can put a real positive spin in your life.

What is it? And how can it help you boost your well-being?

The 80/20 Rule is also called The Pareto’s Principle or The Pareto’s Law. It is commonly first attributed to the early 1900s Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto who observed that 80% of the country’s wealth is controlled by 20% of the population.

In general terms?

80% of effects come from 20% of the causes. 80% of the output from 20% of the input. 20% of efforts give 80% of the results.

People have found this 80/20 rule in other applications – 20% of inventory takes up 80% of storage space, 80% of your happiness comes from 20% of what you do, 80% of your stress from 20% of your relationships.

4-Hour Work Week‘s Tim Ferriss talks about focusing on delivering to the 20% of your customers who account for 80% of your revenue. And just generally living the 80/20 lifestyle.

It is not a 1:1 ratio and we can leverage this rule of thumb to maximize the positives we want in our lives.

What does this mean for your wellbeing?

The #1 complaint in today’s world is probably not having enough time.  Google “how to balance work and life”, you get over 600 million search results.

By rebalancing the distribution of our efforts, we can maximize our time and focus on what really matters. It also means we are striving for progress, not perfection. It leaves us room for exploration and experimentation. Keeping up with the Jones, chasing the illusion of perfection, and seeking control are sources of mental stress, leading to a spiritual crisis.

Five Ways to Leverage the 80/20 Rule:

① Upping Happy

Many people spend 80% of their time at work – at the desk, in meetings, late night conference calls, commuting, checking emails, etc. It is often a job they are not so keen about. This could mean up to or more than 80% of activities people do only generate about 20% of their happiness.

What if we flipped the ratios? What if we focused more on doing what we love, what we are passionate about, and what makes us happy? According to the 80/20 rule, we don’t even have to be spending 80% of our time on enjoyable activities to derive an exponential amount of joy and pleasure.

The thing is – when people are happy, they are more creative, more productive, more inspired. It is a two-way propagating cycle. Doing what people are passionate really stacks up points on their wellness card.

② Revamp Your Relationships

Studies show that having a strong support network and loving relationships is an important factor in how happy people and healthy are in life. 80% of relationship stress can probably be tracked to about 20% of relationships.

Whether it is letting the toxic people exit or investing more energy in rocky relationships is a choice. Taking responsibility is about making choices and living with discernment. Sometimes it is best to move on from people who consistently drain your energy. There are many reasons for why they do this but the responsibility to heal lies with them, not yours.

Human beings are social beings and is it not time to be nourished by your most significant and meaningful relationships? How can we transform how we relate to the people in our life?

Take the 80/20 Rule further and identify 20% of what can be done for the other person that will contribute 80% to the relationship. What’s important for the other person?

③ Declutter

It’s said that people only wear 20% of what’s in their closet. What about you? Maybe it is time to review the other 80% and see what has been forgotten? We can upcycle the items or donate them – give them a new lease in life. Ikea suggests stuffing their pet bed covering with your own clothes so you are never far away from your animal friends.

A quick Feng Shui tip – always leave room in your drawers, wardrobes, garage, etc to allow the energy to flow. Stuck energy shows up in different areas in life and can impact the sense of well-being.

Stagnation in the outer environment is often a reflection of an inner one.

Attachment to material possessions may also point to an underlying sense of lack. A dissociation from the light within makes for a shaky foundation from which to build a paradigm of well-being.

④ Eat the 80/20 Way

Eating “good” 100% is ideal but likely unsustainable for most people. Certainly we should strive for eating well as much as we can. Food is fuel. Food is medicine.

Leaving room, aka 20%, for indulgences will help keep it real for most people. Not strictly following the 80/20 Rule per se, eating the 80/20 way is also a great transitional strategy to better eating.

Eat until 80% full and fill up 80% of the plate with veggies. Drink water 80% of the time.

⑤ Schedule In Downtime

Chronic stress may be the single biggest factor in modern-day illness. People are high-strung, faced with overwhelming array of choices and information overload. Identify stress-busting techniques that go the distance. Try Emotional Brain Training – score some joy points!

Take five plus minutes throughout the day and breathe deeply. Studies show that breathing in and out for five counts each can bring the body into greater coherence. That’s when all systems work together.

Breathing deeply also activates the parasympathetic nervous system.

Sit in silence. Start the morning with some stretching or some sun salutations. Listen to binural beats to tap into the alpha state. Take a cat nap to be more productive. Spend time outside in nature. Get some sunshine – make some Vitamin D. Vitamin D is a necessity for every cell in the body!

Or simply doing nothing at all!

Activating the relaxation-response counters the stress-response that puts the body in a cascade of ill-effects. Scheduling downtime could be one of the important wellness leveraging strategies.

Want more tips on living the 80/20 lifestyle? Check out Richard Koch’s Living the 80/20 Way series.