The 80/20 rule in my life

There is a basic principle of nature that almost always dictates that 80% of your yield comes from 20% of your labor. And to gain the other 20% will take 4 times the amount of work. For example, you can become 80% fluent in a language in 1 year, but it will take 4 more years to gain that additional 20%. This is called the Pareto principle or the 80/20 rule and while sometimes it works out in that ratio, often there is an even bigger disproportion.

This has been used in science that shows 80% of your pea crop comes from 20% of the plants, in bodybuilding (see tim ferriss’ 4 Hour Body) and in languages. It is the basis of a new outlook on life that I have reached.

For the longest time I have worked under the old adage “if you want something done right, do it yourself.” That characteristic of mine was addressed in my posts about trust. I don trust others to do it the way I want. But the other day I had an ephineny.

I was talking with MOving HOrizons about how our personalities and work styles really make us a pair of jacks of all trades. I am involved in Politics, Military, Fencing, the Blogging, IT, Social Media, Singing, Dancing, and Acting. I have a basic working knowledge in these areas and a handful of others that gives me enough skill to guide others as to what I am looking for because I can jump in myself. the problem with this is that I have been left with many choices of what to do with my life and I feel like I can/want to do all of them.

What I realized is that while it is nice, I don’t need to become an expert in most of those fields. I don’t need to jump in and spend 4 times the amount of time learning all of those. Instead I need to recognize the 80/20 principle and understand that I can only dedicate so much time and so I have to let some languish at only 80% while focusing my energies towards something I want to do for the rest of my life.

Now all I have to choose is which path is best to get me there. But now I have closure on letting some dreams die, and a narrowed scope to choose from. This year my life has become manageable. 2011 will be the beginning of my final preparations and decisions, but I am soon going to dedicate 80% in order to gain the last 20% needed to be a master and an expert in politics.