The 20/80 phenom: Get rid of the 20% that causes 80% of your problems

Mar 25, 2010 by

I'd never really thought about it, but when you really put things down on a list that cause you stress, at least in my case, I have found that there are about 20 percent of the things in my life that have been causing about 80 percent of the stress.  It's a disproportional relationship, and truth to tell, that number probably had gotten higher than 20 percent.  Maybe as high as 35 percent.  4 hour work week

At this writing, I'm on a course to cut that 35 or so percent way down, if not out completely.  Sure, there will be other things that have the potential to come along and jump back in there, but I think finally, at 44 years of age, I've come to recognize what those things are.

If you've never picked up Tim Ferriss' book, The Four-Hour Workweek, I strongly suggest you make your way to a bookstore today and do so.  Set up a list of the top two life priorities you have for today.  These are important tasks that if you don't do them, you will not have done something to advance the progress of your life today.  For today, make going and getting this book one of those two top priorities. The other part of that is start reading the book. 

I'm half way through right now and I can see all kinds of ways I can make my life better.  And already I can feel the weight of the stress I've been enduring lifting.  It's not all gone, but I'm making a plan.  (Remember the blog post from a couple of days ago when I said I was formulating three-month and six-month plans?)  And just having this plan, whether it's over the top or not, is giving me a new lease on life. It's giving me optimism and something to shoot for.  It includes things that will make me happier in life.  It includes things that will pare away that 20 percent that's causing me 80 percent of the grief in my life. 

Please.   Stop reading this now.  Go get dressed.  Leave the house.  Leave work at lunch.  Go to your bookstore.  Buy this book.  Come back to some where quiet.  Sit down. Open the book.  Start reading.  Start thinking about what's causing you 80 percent of your stress, grief, discomfort, frustration, boredom, you name it.  If it's not good, write it down.  If it's good, write that down, too.  Then start thinking about what you can do to put those 20 or so percent of things aside.   And keep reading the book because it gets even more helpful the longer you read. 

Okay, here's your top things list for today:

1.  Go get The Four-Hour Workweek and start reading it.

2. Something else that will make a profound impact on your life.



Essential work projects that bring in income

Reduce, eliminate my distractions

Find what routines I can eliminate, reduce or get someone else to do

On my list, I've begun including the dotted line above and putting everything else I want to get done in a day below that.  These are still important activities, but they're not the top two things that if I don't do them today, it will not have been a day where I made some essential progress.

I really enjoy these sorts of books.  The other important one to pick up is Gary Vaynerchuk's Crush It! and the next one I've got and I'm going to read is Bob Burg and John David Mann's Go-Givers Sell More, their follow up to The Go-Giver.

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Giving Myself Permission To Be Me; What makes you happy?

Oct 29, 2009 by

I've been in research mode, reflection mode and healing mode the past few weeks (well, months.)  It's time for some changes in my life and I've been sorting through what they might be and what they might become. 

The forces of evil have been whipping about me and my family for the duration of the summer of 2009 with the force of a Katrina wind.  Others have sought to bring ruin upon me and my household and I'm sure they're feeling very good about themselves and their worthless greed.  May God have mercy on you.  You'll need it. 

When I was younger, I wanted to be a novelist.  But the problem I had was the issue with the classic "Narrative Arc," where a story begins with a complication, it then becomes something of a crisis and then at the very end, we begin to see solutions developing that leave our cast of characters riding off into the sunset. You see, I like people too much and it pains me to see them cast about into a tempest of wickedness.  That's why I typically will only watch films like, It's A Wonderful Life at the beginning and skip the whole part of where George Bailey gets to the crisis section.  I then pick back up when he wants to live again.  That's just who I am.  I don't seek confrontation, I don't like confrontation, but if you bring it to my door, threaten me, or try to deprive me of what I've come by honestly, well, then I have a problem with you. 

My summer-long self analysis has given me pause to refocus on the things in life that make me the happiest.  The sad part is I'm still tied to people who would rather see only the negative, who think that it's someone else's job to provide them an easy ride, and they are entitled.  

Life is too short for all that drama.  We're only given so much time here in this life.  I don't understand why others choose to focus on what's wrong with life, rather than how to change it for the better. Maybe I never will. 

Yesterday I began reading "Crush It!" by Gary Vaynerchuk.  I bought the book using my Barnes & Noble eReader and I've been going through it here on my Mac.  (This is a great way to read a book like this because I can go through it and highlight it as I read.)  Gary's primary advice is to find what you like doing in life and begin doing it. 

"In this book I’ll explain step by step how to use all the social networking tools on the Internet to take whatever it is that rocks your world—the activity that you would do every minute if you could, the topic that you just can’t shut up about, the product that you would like to put in everyone’s hands—and build it into not just a business but a powerful personal brand that makes you all the money and, more important, brings you all the happiness you could ever want.", [Gary Vaynerchuk, Crush It!]

 He encourages readers to find their passion in life and then find a way to make that become your job.  Because of if it is your job, something you can support yourself with, then it won't feel like work and you'll be having the time of your life. 

I'm on that course of development.  I have been for the past couple of months in hours and hours of reflection, praying and taking long walks with myself.  It didn't take beginning to read this book yesterday to tell me to do this.  It was something I came to on my own.  

Throughout my life, I've had some great friends.  Through Facebook, I've been able to find some of my childhood friends, and I'm so thankful I've found them.  But when it comes down to it, friends, family, etc. the only thing that's going to make me happy is being who I am.  Me.  I can't be a person someone else wishes me to be.  I can't let external forces beyond my control ruin my life.  I must be quick to adapt, modify course, and keep on plugging.  (After all these years, it appears Marlo Thomas was right!)

I don't know where my life journey of today is going to take me.  In some ways, that's a good thing.  In others, I wish I knew so I could plan a little better.  

But no matter what happens today, no matter who tries to push mountains in front of my progress, no matter who makes up lies about me, no matter who tries to take things from me that I earned through hard work and dedication, I have a God in Heaven who loves me, who is going to protect me from the forces of that evil no matter what, and in the end, it is that same God who is going to smile upon me at the end of my long day's work, and tell me well done. 

My blessings in this life have been plenty.  My hardships have seemed to mount the past few months, but the evil of Satan, the greed and dishonesty of others, isn't enough to get me down, because no matter how hard they try, the one thing they can't deprive me of, is my freedom to be me.  

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