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My 80/20 Rule

Let me clarify upfront it is not my intention to give any business lecture on the 80/20 rule (The Pareto Principle). I just want to share what my 80/20 rule for life which I try to practice and I believe it can be useful for people in their lives. It has for me. If you have studied business or economics, you will be familiar with the Pareto Principle which state that 80% of outcomes come from 20% of causes. Some examples of the Pareto Principle are 80% of sales are generated by 20% of clients or 80% of corporate results are caused by 20% of employees and on and on. This principle helps companies to stop trying to do everything for everybody every time. Using this principle companies analyze those 20% and then focus more of their resources on them. And some examples in life are: 80% of crimes are committed by 20% of criminals or 80% of accidents are caused by 20% of drivers etc. One can certainly use the Pareto Principle in business or life to focus on that 20% to achieve the most effective and efficient results.

I do have a different take – I have my own 80/20 rule which I try to live by, and which works for me. That rule is, for anything in my personal or professional life if things are 80% fine and 20% not fine then it is ok. No matter what things I am doing or experiencing, this is the prism through I look at things. If anything is 80% ok, then I should be fine. I didn’t arrive at this conclusion just like that. It took several life changing adversities which changed my outlook on life. Most of us dwell on that 20% which are not fine and ignore the 80% which are fine. This results in upsetting us, alters our mood and increases our anxieties and stress. We want everything 100% fine. Life can never be 100% perfect no matter what we are looking at. Before like many, I also used to get stressed out by wanting everything in my life 100% fine all the time.

So slowly and consciously I started applying this rule to everything I dealt with in personal or professional life. Although I still get irritated sometimes with the 20% which are not fine, it no longer rattles me to the core and upsets me as it used to before. Using this rule no matter what I am facing makes life much easier. As a very realistic and logical individual, this rule appeals to me as it is very pragmatic in approaching life.

I believe in the New Year if folks can apply this rule, it will be high beneficial for them to face their life situations without the unnecessary stress and angst. However, having this mindset is not easy, it takes some work. It does not happen overnight. There are still days when I get troubled or disturbed due to that 20% which are not fine. But those days are less frequent than when I started applying this rule. Just stay with it!

In the end, follow the 80-20 rule as you apply the 80-20 rule for your life i.e., if 80% of the time you follow this rule you will be fine. Don’t go for that 100% perfection in following this rule.


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