Med One to One Fall / Winter TWENTY TWENTY ISSUE 65

Focus On The 20%

Written By: Madeline Cheney

Focus On The 20%

The Pareto principle or 80/20 principle is often referenced in business settings. The concept is that 80% of rewards come from 20% of effort. When trained on the subject, business leaders are encouraged to prioritize their efforts so that they focus on the most important 20% of tasks rather than wasting time on the unimportant 80% that yields little reward.

This 80/20 principle also has great application in achieving goals. Often, people have an "all or nothing" attitude when it comes to reaching goals; however, that attitude is often their biggest stumbling block and the reason success is not achieved. By attempting to accomplish 100% of one's goal all at once, the chances of failure increase exponentially. If the goal cannot be achieved 100%, it is often given up on, resulting in 0% reward. Though it may seem counter-intuitive at first, applying the 80/20 principle allows for a focused effort on the most important things.


For example, everyone has likely had a night when sleep didn't come easily, and as the minutes and hours ticked by, it seemed more and more urgent yet unachievable. The urgency that is created when one cannot fall asleep creates a 100% effort mindset that sleep must be achieved immediately and mires people down with unhelpful thoughts about the consequences of not falling asleep (these worries belong in the 80% category that should be avoided). This mindset is understandable because there is no middle ground – sleep is either achieved, or it is not. However, the stress created by a 100% mindset circumvents one's efforts. Conversely, if the goal becomes simply to not worry about falling asleep immediately, but to try to be 20% more comfortable, stress is reduced, and the goal of falling asleep is more likely to be reached as the most important 20% is tackled.

This time of year provides countless examples of how not to achieve goals as we see New Year's resolutions made with the best of intentions go by the wayside. This is because people make unsustainable, wholesale changes with an "all or nothing" attitude. People try to become the most toned, diet-conscious, organized, relationship-oriented versions of themselves overnight, which sets them up for failure.

So whether you are trying to lose weight, save money, improve your relationships, or accomplish any other goal, try to focus on improving 20% to start and see how much you can accomplish. You may find that making those small but sustainable changes that amount to 20% actually allows you to meet your goal 100%.

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