Do you ever feel overwhelmed by expectations—at work, school, or in life in general? You’re not alone. Everyone can use a helping hand to break through barriers and reach their true potential.
When this happens, why not try using the Pareto Principle? It’s an invaluable framework for achieving maximum success with minimal effort.
Background of the Pareto Principle
The Pareto Principle was named after Vilfredo Pareto, an Italian economist. He noticed that people in society seemed to divide naturally into what he called the “vital few,” or the top 20 percent in terms of money and influence, and the “trivial many,” the other 80 percent at the bottom.
Many people have found this to work in nearly every area of life. You can use it to unlock the possibilities of increased productivity, enhanced creativity, and greater fulfillment.
Let’s explore how using the Pareto Principle can help.
Using the Pareto Principle to Improve Your Life
The first thing to do to get started on a better life is to take a piece of paper and a pen or a word processing program and write at the top, “Ways to Improve. ” Next, start brainstorming ideas. While you’re writing, consider every aspect of your life. Don’t leave anything out.
Remember, you’re brainstorming so there are no wrong answers.
Your health, finances, career, relationships, and home environment are all fair game. Write down everything you feel that would make your life better, no matter how outlandish they may seem. This isn’t the time to judge the value of an idea. Just write it down and move on to your next idea.
Make sure you give yourself the time you need. Take as much time as needed, even days are okay for this exercise.
If you’re like most people, you’ll probably find that the first 5-10 ideas come quickly, since these are the things you already know you should be doing but haven’t started yet. The others may take a little more time. While there’s no maximum, a good goal to shoot for a minimum of 50. What you might find is the best ideas come later in the process.
Remember, you’re simply brainstorming at this point. You don’t want to create a to-do list this long.
Now that you have your list, follow these three steps to use the Pareto Principle to pare it down and get the absolute best results:
1. Pick your top 10 best ideas.
After your brainstorming session, you’ll find that several items on your list will probably be unusable. This is to be expected. Many others will be possible, but not as important.
The idea here is to focus on the things that would have the biggest impact on your life if you were to accomplish them. Take some time to really think about your options. As you know, sometimes the simplest and easiest changes can create significant results. Reduce your list to the ten best ideas but be sure to save the rest of for another day.
2. Rank your top ten.
Now, rank your ideas from easiest to accomplish to most difficult. This will help you build some momentum before you take on the big stuff. As you succeed, you’ll have more faith in your ability to accomplish even more difficult tasks.
Now, use visualization to imagine getting them all done. How different would your life be? How much will it improve?
- Start with #1 on your list.
Here’s where the rubber meets the road. To make anything happen you need to take action. Implement the first idea and make your way down your list.
Now, your list only has 10 items on it. Remember the premise of the Pareto’s Principle which basically states that 20% of the actions available to you will give you 80% of your results. So, accomplishing these 10 things is very likely to have an immediate and large impact on your life.
Some Last Thoughts About Using the Pareto Principle
Let’s say you know that you want to improve a specific area of your life, your list can focus on just that one thing. For example, you might want to make a list specific to getting healthy, improving your relationships, or becoming wealthy. You can choose one and go after it. After all, it’s your life and you can apply your focus as you choose.
Here’s a pro tip if you need help choosing a specific area of your life.
Rate all aspects of your life on a 1-10 scale, with the areas that are most important to you at the top of the scale. Next, fill your list up with ways to make these most important areas feel more fulfilling. As you do this, remember to set reasonable goals that stretch your abilities.
Using the Pareto Principle and intentionally focusing on your most important items is one of the fastest ways to make real progress in your life. No matter how well you might be doing already, developing this list is a worthwhile investment. It will allow you to take control of your life by keeping your ideas for improvement on the top of your mind for taking action daily. In a short while, you’ll have created your best life ever!