Last week I introduced a discussion about Vilfredo Pareto, the Italian economist that developed what is now widely known as The Pareto Principle. Many of you may know it as the “80-20 Rule.” If you missed last week’s post, you can catch up here.
Briefly put, the results in almost every achievable life aspect tend to fall roughly in an 80/20 split. For example:
- Most businesses recognize that 80% of their revenue comes from only 20% of their customer base
- On most sales teams, 20% of the sales people bring in 80% of the sales
- U.S. health care statistics have found that roughly 80% of all health care claims come from a mere 20% of the insured
- The top 20% of real estate agents sell 80% of the homes on the market
And so it goes. You’ve seen it at work in your own life. And we’ve seen it over and over again in personal development. Truth be told, only about 20% of those that seek real change in their lives make it happen. Maybe you have gone to a personal development workshop, or started a weight loss program, or vowed to change something in your life, only to find that a few weeks or months down the line you have “fallen off the wagon” – which is really just another way of saying that you’ve lost the fire for change and have slipped into the 80%. I feel your pain – I’ve done it in my lifetime as well.
It doesn’t have to be that way. You don’t have to settle. Last week I started a discussion of what the 20% group does to keep Mr. Pareto at bay. Remember – if you want what the 20% have, you need to find out what the 20% are doing and do what they do.
Last week, I discussed how important it is to share your intent with others and have someone hold you accountable. Again, you can find those thoughts here. Here are the rest of my recommendations for this week:
Clean house. No, I’m not talking about getting the dust bunnies and gremlins out from under your bed (although you might need to do that, too). I’m talking about making changes in your life by limiting or completely getting rid of something that stands as a roadblock to your success. This will be different for each one of us. If becoming more fit is your primary goal, you may need to sweep through your kitchen cupboards or pantry and toss everything unhealthy that could be a hindrance. Trust me – the Loving Mirrors in your home will be okay without the junk as well and most likely will support your desire for change. If your goal is to read more personal development material, you may need to put yourself on a television diet. You may need to take a hard look at who you are surrounding yourself with each day and the impact their negativity is having on your road to accomplishment. Whatever “it” is for you, don’t wait for the Spring to do your cleaning. If you choose to skip this step, Mr. Pareto may be knocking on your front door before you know it.
Take a bite every day. Ever heard the old adage, “How do you eat an elephant?” Answer: one bite at a time. Anything worth obtaining is worth putting in the effort needed. People who reach their goals do so because they are determined to, not because they wish to. And that determination needs to result in steady, consistent, measurable progress. I read a great article recently about Jerry Seinfeld. He was asked about his success and ability to consistently create new material. His response: write new jokes every day. He shared how he got himself a big wall calendar and started to mark each day that he wrote with a big red “X”. Soon he had a chain of several days’ worth of red marks on the calendar. His advice was simple: “Don’t break the chain.” I love this idea. As the chain gets longer and longer, we are much less likely to skip a day and “break the chain.” Compounded over time, an unbroken chain can have a major impact towards achieving the end result and keeping Mr. Pareto at bay. Remember, Leo Tolstoy’s massive life work War and Peace was written in longhand, page after page after page until it was completed.
Be patient. Do you have a gym membership? If you do, then you know that it’s virtually impossible to find an available piece of equipment on January 1st. Why? Because everyone and their mother have decided that THIS IS THE YEAR that they finally get in shape. Meanwhile, those with long-standing memberships just look at each other, nod and say, “Valentine’s Day.” They know that in a little over a month, they can have just about any piece of equipment in the house. We live in a microwave-mentality, “I want rock hard abs in 90 days!” society. It doesn’t matter that it may have taken someone 30, 40, or even 50 years to be in the shape they are in. They expect immediate results. Don’t fall for that form of lazy and undisciplined thinking. True change takes time, effort and hard, hard work. Plenty of it. If you practice the other disciplines listed above, you’ll begin to see real change in a very short amount of time. Stay the course. Don’t break the chain. Just remember – if change was easy, everyone on the planet would be skinny and wealthy. You’ve got to promise yourself that you’re in it for the long haul, or not at all.
2014 is right around the corner. What changes and adjustments will you be making over the next 12 months to have your best year ever? How will you end up on the winning side of the Pareto Principle? Please comment below and tell us!
Elephant artwork courtesy of Joe Havasy. You can check out his complete Cutesturbing gallery at www.joehavasyillustration.com.
I’ve heard of these concepts before, but find it hard to keep going after Valentine’s day. I think keeping your eye on the prize is key. When I commit to doing something regularly to better my life or business, I have to always keep in mind why I’m doing it or I start to falter. Writing it down is probably a good start! Well-written post. Thanks for sharing it.
Michelle – thanks for the response. Yes, we have to have a big enough “WHY” or else we have a tendency to give up too soon. If your “WHY” is big enough, the “HOW” starts to present itself.
I like your comments about keeping your eye on the prize. I heard it said recently that the most successful don’t think in terms of the next week, month, or even the next year. They are thinking and planning the next DECADE. I’m working myself on operating more and more from that mindset!
To Your Success,