But then, I did just recommend choosing your own saints.
Vilfredo Pareto gives his name to the 80/20 rule after observing that 80% of Italy’s wealth was controlled by just 20% of its population. These numbers are the same today for pretty much anywhere in the First World. (Also in Italy.)
The Pareto Principle is also observed in a multitude of places… And it is an observation. It’s not a ‘law’. You see it in employee output in large organisations, you see it in population distribution. For instance, 80% of England’s population live in just 20% of its cities.
It shows up in the natural world as well. For some reason, data in mediocristan like to cluster in this way.
You can begin to see how it can have relevance in your own life when you hear it’s other name: The Principle of Least Effort. Or, to put it another way: Less is more.
Choose your goals wisely
You can’t do everything. And there are probably things that you definitely want to do. What needs to happen in your life to deliver the largest chunks of happiness?
- Owning your own business or buying those new shoes?
- Getting married or adopting another cat?
- A European vacation or living debt free?
- Taking an after-work salsa class or spending more time with your family?
There’s no judgement in the list. There’s just the realisation that you can’t physically do them all in a single incarnation. So pick the ones that are heaviest with happy.
By the time you shuffle off, only 20% of what appears on your scroll will have delivered 80% of its joy. Knowing this is extremely helpful. Go after that 20% as hard and as fast as you can.
Drop the 20%
The thing about working out what is going to bring you the most joy is that it throws a whole new light on all that other stuff you’re going after.
Drop them. Drop them all.
When you remove activities from your life that just aren’t important, you have more energy, more focus, more chi to devote to the things that are.
Consider it spring cleaning for your wish list.
Work out your critical path
Your happiness chunks have been identified. The other stuff has been dropped. Now you have identify what are the most important steps you need to take in order to reach these chunks. This is your critical path. We have discussed the critical path in previous posts:
- Do you need to do some post-grad study?
- Do you need to join a gym?
- Should you move house to be closer (or further away) from your family?
- What about moving somewhere with better job prospects?
Where do your critical path tasks fit on the chart to the left? Most of what we tend to distract ourselves with lives in the first quadrant. Obviously you want tasks that fit in the best quadrant.
Why? Because you can achieve more of them. And it’s as simple as asking yourself what is the one thing you can do that would make the most difference in achieving a desired outcome.
Think big… but also think small
If you deploy Saint Pareto’s Wisdom in your day-to-day life (and you should) it looks a lot like big rocks. Heard of big rocks before? Big rocks are awesome.
The Pareto Principle is extremely effective in helping you achieve lasting happiness, but it also provides a very successful map for daily living.
That’s quite enough mathematical history for one day. As a reward, you all get to watch Kylie’s brand new video (came out yesterday) from the album Aphrodite where she is clearly channeling the Goddess’s Aphrodite Pandemos aspect.
And when I say you all get to watch, obviously I just mean the gays.