Living the 80/20 Way

What’s The Big Idea

The 80/20 way enables anyone to get extra-ordinary results without extraordinary effort. A small amount of our energy leads to most great things in life.A small portion of our time leads to most of our happiness and fulfilment. This is about action but less action.

The 80/20 way revolves around two ideas-

The law of focus: less is more
The law of progress: we can create more with less

It is not necessary to do extraordinary things to get extraordinary results. Because, as William Henry Davies says-

What is this life, if full of care
We have no time to stand and stare.

In the wonky world where we live in, 20 people achieve more results than the 80 people. Most causes have little result, a few transform lives. This applies to all of life.

Create More With Less

All human history, all progress in civilisation, involves getting more with less. We can often get more with less by leaving something out; this is what we successfully use in science, technology and business. But we don’t apply more with less to our individual lives. The modern principle for individuals is more with more. More with less should work for individuals too. More with less is a practical tool that builds on two promises:

  • It is always possible to improve anything in our lives, not by a small amount but by a large amount.
  • The way to make the improvement is to ask, “What will give me a much better result for much less energy?”

Think of any great person.

  • Do they achieve by trying to do something they find easy and natural, or by trying to do something that is hard and unnatural?
  • Do they achieve because they work hard, or because they find it easy than others to excel in their chosen arena?
  • Do they work hard because they feel guilty, or because they identify with their work, believe in it and love it? Even when they work hard they get a huge return on their effort.

1. Do a few hugely worthwhile things that may be hard initially. What’s difficult becomes easy and what’s easy often creates difficulty.

2. Start doing it as early as possible.

3. Be selective about the good habits you are going to adopt – choose a few; not more than seven. Once you excel in them, you can add a few if you like.

We Have All The Time In The World

Time is a gentle god: cussed when we try to speed up, a dear friend when we slow down. Once we adopt the 80/20 way, our lives are transformed. There is no shortage of time. There is no rush. Time is not in short supply, we are awash with it. Time need not rush, nor need we. Time can stand still, bringing us happiness, achievement and a taste of eternity. Time is a boundless sea. We can swim happily in time, confidently, calmly, with no sense of impending doom.

There are two ways in which we experience time. There are times when are totally absorbed, absolutely happy and in tune with the universe- when time stands still. We are scarcely conscious of time or ourselves. We are in the zone, in the moment, experiencing a sense of inner calm or bliss. There are times when we are bored, miserable or unexcited. There is little worthwhile that happens. Time doesn’t race past or stand still, it drags heavily along. A day of time in the zone may be worth a lifetime of dog days. Less is more.

Multiply the time spent on happiness islands (when we are the happiest) and spend less time on the activities that don’t make u happy. Multiply your time on your achievement islands (when we are most productive and creative) and reduce time on everything else. This way we can sharply boost the quality of our lives.

Don’t try to manage your time, try to revolutionise your time. To do that, slow down. Stop worrying. Do fewer things. Chuck you to do list, make a not to do list. Act less.

Think more. Reflect on what really matters to you. Stop doing anything that isn’t valuable, that doesn’t make you happy. Savour life. Reclaim time for yourself and the people you care about.

Live in the present- not in the past or the future. Don’t worry about the past or the future, enjoy the present.

The five key areas of life where we should learn to live the 80/20 way are

• Your self
• Work and success
• Money
• Relationships
• The simple good life

Making A Living And A Life

Focus On Your Best 20%

Focus is the secret of all personal power, happiness and success. Focus means doing less, being less. Focus makes less more. Focus is easy, yet few people do it. It expands individuality, the essence of being human. Life’s greatest mystery is human character and uniqueness, crafting individuality. Individuality implies differentiation. Becoming different requires editing, subtraction, focus. When we focus our self we give up doing what many other people do, thinking what others think. It is a loss of quantity, not of quality. One starts developing one’s authentic self, the vital and best part of oneself. It is not difficult or unnatural. In being true to your self, you give up the parts of you that are not genuine or unnatural. You stop acting, pretending to be interested or excited in things that bore you. You stop worrying about what other people think of you. We can’t honestly care intensely about too many people or things. We can’t be devoted to many people or causes at once. Life is easier after making a few big decisions:

• Who and what do you care about most?
• What kind of person you are and want to become?
• What are your strongest qualities, emotions and abilities?
• Do you want to commit to a life partner?
• Do you want to raise children?
• Do you want to make a name for yourself? For what?
• Do you want to work for yourself or on your own terms? At what?
• Do you want to create something that other people will notice and enjoy?
• Do you want to have a ‘cottage small by a waterfall’?
• What are you putting energy into that isn’t essential for your happiness?

Focus and individuality make our life easy and happy.

Focus on your 80/20 destination – where you want to be.

• Your goals, dreams, objectives throughout life – what you want to achieve.

• The kind of place you want to be- the people you want to be with, the kind of person you want to become, the experiences you want to have, the quality of your life

• Where you care about arriving- the life that suits you and expresses you.

To do this, define your 20% spikes for skills, interests, emotions and attributes.

Find the 80/20 route

• The route that offers you more with less, better and easier.

Take 80/20 action- the first key steps

• The very few actions that are proven to give you the majority of happiness and fulfilment.
• Less total action and greater total results.

Enjoy Work And Success
Make a great mental leap: dissociate effort from reward. First, think results. Then get them with least energy. Cultivate lazy intelligence. The six common characteristics of successful people are-

• Ambition
• Loving what they do
• Lopsidedness
• Know a lot about a little
• Think and communicate clearly
• Evolve their own success formula

Unmask The Mystery Of Money

The greatest force in the world? Compound interest. To have no future financial worries, all you need to do is to save and invest 10% of your income for long term growth. If we never save money, we will always be poor, no matter how much money we earn. Money can buy happiness if you’re poor. But beyond a certain point- a surprisingly low point – more money doesn’t deliver more happiness. The problem is we don’t want to be rich; we just want to be richer than other people. Money is something we trade our life energy for. Through saving and accumulating money, we avoid trading our life energy for money. Save and invest in the easiest possible way.

Save and invest 10% of your income before you receive it by having it automatically channelled into a savings account. Do this as early as you can in your life- which means now.

• Pay off your credit card debt.

• Retire all your debts.

• Cut up your credit cards.

• Be more selective in buying things. Only spend money on the few items that really make you happy.

• Go for cheaper items that deliver most of the benefit.

• With spare cash buy assets that promise income or an increase in value.

• Save half any pay raise.

• Spring clean each year – get rid of the clutter. Give away the small items, sell the valuable ones and invest the proceeds.

• Draw a wall chart of your monthly income, expenses and investment income with a projection of when investment income will meet your monthly expenses.

• Cut one item of spending. Give the money away. Not only is this likely to give you greater pleasure, but also mysteriously, it often increases your income.

Relationships The 80/20 Way

There is only one happiness in life- to love and be loved. We need other people to be truly ourselves.

Create more with less in your work life and by saving. Focus on less is more: what is important for your happiness – satisfying work, a sense of personal purpose, and above all a few high-quality relationships- which require, and will amply repay, unstinting time and emotional commitment.

To be happy over the long haul with someone consider wider qualities-

• Being able to get close to other people, depend on them and have them depend on you
• Being optimistic
• Ability to avoid harsh argument and criticism of partner
• Agreement on basic values
• Don’t do for others what you would like yourself. Do what they want

There is a formula for happy families that we can copy-

• Practise love spirals- demonstrating your love all the time.
• Using more positive than negative feedback.
• Having parents who are always available and generous with their time
• Having united and loving parents
• Coping with disaster or difficult children
• Imposing discipline but never withdrawing love
• Sharing bedtime stories and “best moments”

Spend time with your friends.

The Simple Good Life

The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary, so that the necessary may speak. Epicurus said that all we need for happiness is-

• Food, shelter, clothes.
• Friends
• Freedom
• Thought

We must make a deliberate decision to step off the more with more treadmill. We find this difficult because-

• Our desires are infinite and contradictory. We are restless, ambitious and conditioned to think that more is better.

• We compare ourselves to other people.

• Many of us feel that ambition, effort and striving are good, that we must develop our abilities and reach for the stars. We feel guilty if we are not competing, struggling to go further.

But we can leave the treadmill with a light heart, however, since:

• The vast majority of our desires don’t lead to more than fleeting happiness. To be happy we need to focus our demands, boiling them down to the few that are most important to us and result in our happiness. When other desires come along we exclude them, not because they are the work of the devil, but because we know they won’t make us happy. We stop worrying. We simplify.

• If you should compare yourselves to others compare happiness. More possessions do not lead to more happiness.

• Stretching and cultivating ourselves is good: we become happier, more individual, and more use to other people. But striving to the point that we’re stressed out, time poor, snappy, and unhappy is stupid. We do more good when we are relaxed and focused. We add most to the happiness of those we love when we are happy ourselves. We are happiest when we simplify our lives down to the essentials that work best for us.

To simplify,

• Eliminate the things in your life that cause worry or unnecessary aggravation, and give very little benefit relative to the energy or time you spend on them.

• Eliminate the worry of too much choice or too many ambitions- its just as possible to be over focused as under focused on goals and destinations.

• Get rid of things that don’t matter.

The Power Of Parsimonious Positive Action

Do a few right actions and the rest will take care of itself. The 80/20 way is harder to start but the benefits are enormous.

(These are notes from the book Living The 80/20 Way: Work Less, Worry Less, Succeed More, Enjoy More)


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