The 80-20 Rule

The 80-20 rule, otherwise known as Pareto’s Principle. This principle is based on the “rule of thumb” that 80% of your results are generated and come from 20% of the inputs. It was originally based around business, where 80% of a business’ income comes from 20% of their customers/clients. I feel that this will also apply to others areas of life.

I suspect that 80% of my weight-loss results (or lack thereof) comes from 20% of my diet, and that 80% of my unhappiness comes from 20% of the things that I worry about, as well as 80% of my output at work comes from 20% of my time in the office. Sometimes the percentages are not necessarily 80% and 20%, but may be 90% and 10% instead, but the principle still applies.

This is something that I would like to work on. I would like to learn how to cut the 20% of causes for 80% of my unhappiness. If I could do that, I could certainly be happier person overall.

I would like to learn which 20% of my time leads to the 80% of my output so that I can focus on that area of my work and improve my productivity and output. Then I would be able to do some other tasks that would lead to happiness, such as physical exercise, mindfulness exercise, writing, photography, spending time with family. Just using my time in ways that make me happy. That would be my final goal.

So I now need to look at how I spend my time, not only at work in the office, but also at home so that I can find that 20% or so of my time that leads to the 80% of my output. Once I work that out, I will be a productivity king (or so I hope)!

Worries

One thing that I am reminded of recently is that no matter how much I worry about I have no control over the outcome, and that is the Federal Election of Australia. I am one person out of millions registered to vote, and while I am privileged to have a say in who runs the country, I am a tiny percentage and my solitary vote will not decide the final outcome. So it feels safe to say that I will have next to no control over the outcome, although the outcome will affect my future.

So when it comes to me worrying about the outcome of the federal election in Australia, there is really no point in me worrying because I have next to no control over how it will affect me. Whether the party I want to run the country gets in or not, I am still bound by the ruling party and have no say in what they choose to do with their power. All I can do is sit back and take a ride while the politicians sort themselves out and rule the country in the way that they see fit.

The reasoning behind it comes from my reading of F*ck Feelings by Michael & Sarah Bennett. They share that it is not necessarily worth worrying about things you can not control. I certainly do not have any control over the outcome of a nationwide election, so why should I waste energy worrying about it?

Sure I can worry about the outcome, but is it worth my time? Probably not. I would just be wasting time and energy on something that I have little impact over, when I could be using that energy into doing something good for myself, my family or the people around me. No point wasting energy on “spilt milk” so to say.

So while I may talk about the outcome with friends, I am not worried by it because it is what it is and I have no control over what happens next. I will be focusing my efforts and energy into things I can control and that is doing a good job at work to make the clients happy with the products we deliver. Provided I can do that satisfactorily, I will make sure that I have a job, and that is something I do have control over.

Why?

Some people may see this blog a joining in the minimalism movement that is happening across the world. While it is to a degree, this is my journey, and what matters to some people may not matter to other people. The journey to minimalism is a unique journey for each and every one of us.

So I wish to write my story about why I am joining the minimalism train and learning to unravel my life. To remind myself why I am doing this even though it is embedded in my life history.

Why?

I grew up in a fairly typical Sydney family (at least I felt it was typical). I am the eldest of two boys and we were each allowed two hobbies in life, a sport (I was a swimmer even though my body shows none of the signs) and a musical instrument (it is the piano if you would like to know). We were each brought up with only being provided the things that we asked for that were deemed necessary by our parents. We always felt this was unfair given our friends at school had items we wanted but were not allowed to own.

We were always taught that money didn’t grow on trees and that we needed to work to earn it. Now as much as that sounds unfair to a teenager who wanted to look cool, it did teach me a valuable lesson. Although I now come to realise why this is such a valuable lesson and one that I will teach to my daughter and future children.

Going to uni, I had a job at the pool that lasted through the three months of summer, and I had to stretch out that money across the remaining nine months. I learned when I could spend money and what I could spend it on. Sometimes I would spend it on things that I didn’t need, and they piled up in my bedroom. Some of these things I still keep with me today even though I have used them a handful of times if that. These are items I can make do without yet I keep them because I purchased them with hard-earned cash at the time.

So I have items that add little meaning to my life, that I carry through life without using them to warrant owning them at the moment. I would like to pare down these items, but I just can’t seem to let go of them because I might need them “just in case” although I will not likely use them again.

All these items burden me without physically burdening me, hence why I am looking to join the minimalism train and unravel my life. The Minimalists write about how removing the items from your life that do not add value helps to create a meaningful life.

This is something that I am struggling with at the moment, working out what is important to me and purging everything else from my life. My biggest challenge is changing. I am hanging on to my old ways because that is what I know and understand even though I could be living a more meaningful and less burdensome life purging items that do not add value. I need to change my way of thinking and learning to value the important and not the unimportant.

Conclusion?

So what is the lesson from my life to date? We think that we need everything that money can buy, however, it does not necessarily lead to happiness. The number of possessions, and the amount of money that we have does not equal happiness.

Relationships are what matter most, and I value the relationship I have with my gorgeous wife and beautiful daughter. I want to spend my time with them and not unhappy with possessions that add no value to my life. People add value to our lives, not possessions.

I will end this post with a quote from the Minimalists podcast that reminds me of my realisation about happiness, people and possessions.

Love people, and use things, because the opposite never works.

The Minimalists

Converting to Gratitude

We all have times where we are down and would rather been on an emotional high. That is where I am at the moment.

I am just not in a pleasant head-space when it comes to work or life. There are aspects that I enjoy, in particular spending quality time with my daughter, however there are many more aspects that I am not happy with.

One thing that has probably led my head-space to the way that it is, most likely comes from a lack of gratitude for the things that are in my life. A lack of gratitude for the possessions and money that we have, which is greater than the majority of people in the world. This is something that I would like to change. A lot of change I would like to make is mental.

This idea has come from the current introspection that I am working through in my life. I would like to improve the quality of my life in many ways, one of which is mentally.

There is one method I have realised that came about from reading on how to improve the quality of our thoughts comes from adopting a mental attitude of thankfulness. Adopting an attitude of gratitude will help you realise what matters to you most.

I feel that for the last few years, I am focusing on the wrong aspects of life, aspects that are negative and lead me into a negative downward spiral. I know that I need to change my way of thinking, but it is very difficult to change a certain way of thinking. The difficulty in making these changes is that the negative thinking is well ingrained into my psyche.

I am trying a new thing of writing down one thing in my journal that I am thankful for at that very moment. If the wish to write more thankful thoughts come from writing down just one item, I am not allowed to stop myself from writing unless I hit my allocated journalling time.

I would also like to attempt to share my gratitude list here once a month as a summary of my journal gratitude list.

How do you go about changing your thoughts from negative to positive? Have you tried something different from what I am doing? I would love to hear your responses, leave me an email or message via Twitter.