Have you ever heard of the Pareto Principle? Maybe you’ve heard it called the 80/20 rule. I heard about it years ago but it wasn’t until I applied it to my weight loss journey that it really transformed my life. I’m not kidding. This one principle has changed the way I look at just about EVERYTHING! This simple truth allows you to DO LESS yet YIELD MORE.
So this guy named Vilfredo Pareto once observed that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by only 20% of the people. It was quickly realized that most things in life roughly mimic this ratio:
- 20% of the people generate 80% of the wealth
- 20% of the plants in a garden produce 80% of the bounty
- 20% of employees are responsible for 80% of the workload
Essentially, it boils down to this: 80% of your results come from only 20% of your actions. A powerful 20% of your inputs will generate 80% of your outputs. Read: We are wasting much of our time doing frivolous crap that doesn’t produce the results we’re after!!!
Think about the 80/20 rule in your own life:
- 20% of your household chores make 80% of the difference. Vacuuming the floors + cleaning the bathrooms + wiping down the kitchen counters = 80% clean. Sure, you can spend your time doing the other 80% of stuff but you won’t feel like it is clean unless you’ve tackled that omnipotent 20%.
- 20% of your problems account for 80% of your stress. Its the big rocks that keep us stressed out, right? Job, money, etc. Yes, there are lots of little stressors but its those couple biggies that cause the problems.
- 20% of your projects take up 80% of your time. At home or at work, there are most often a few key things that seem to take up the majority of our day.absolute
Here’s where the powerful part comes in. When you identify, in any area of your life, which activities fall into that 20%, you can focus on those things, de-emphasize the time you’re spending dealing with the rest of the stuff, and see DRAMATIC improvements.
I have applied this to my fat loss journey and I’ll tell you, it has been transformative. You can read fat loss tips all damn day long. Everyone has an opinion and you can create a huge list of all the things that will help you burn fat:
- Eat more vegetables
- Eat less sugar
- Focus on protein
- Watch your fat intake
- Avoid gluten
- Count calories
- Measure portions
- Don’t eat out
- Prepare your food ahead of time
- Do lots of cardio
- Lift weights
- Get enough sleep
- Limit your stress levels
- Avoid chemicals
- Take leisure walks
- Balance your hormones
- Take specific supplements
- Drink protein shakes
- Blah blah blah
It can quickly become overwhelming. It can make you feel like its completely impossible to keep all those balls in the air. Oftentimes, the 100% view can keep us from acting AT ALL because it seems so impossible. But there is good news!! 80% of your results will come from only 20% of your activities! You can pick the most impactful 20% and those big rocks will generate the majority of the success you are after!!!
Now, keep in mind that those 20% activities won’t be the same for everyone! You need to figure this out for yourself. Don’t waste your time and energy watching what other people eat, how often they exercise, what type of exercise they do, what supplements they take, etc etc. Invest your time and energy monitoring what works for YOU and then focus on those activities. Identify which activities have the most pay off for YOUR body.
Though I don’t want you to assume that they are YOUR 20% activities, I’ll tell you what I’ve found mine to be. These are the big rocks I focus on. Sure, I might throw in other stuff from time to time, but I know that my results are going to come from these things, so they become my non-negotiables. Anything else is gravy.
- Documentation. I write down my goals and I write down everything I eat. If it goes in my mouth, I write it down. This not only helps keep me accountable, but it allows me to go back and troubleshoot. Keeping my goals in front of me helps me stay focused and motivated.
- Lifting heavy weights. Sure, I do cardio. But I know that my results come much more from challenging my body and the hormonal response generated when I lift heavy weights. I lift a minimum of three times each week. Sometimes 4.
- Emphasizing non-starchy vegetables, healthy fats and protein at every meal and limiting my carbohydrates to my evening meal. Its not complicated. I don’t count calories. I don’t measure portions. I don’t have a strict eating pattern. I eat when I’m hungry. I eat foods I love. Before dinner I enjoy non-starchy veggies, fats and proteins. At dinner, I do the same, but I’ll often include a clean carbohydrate like sweet potato or apple.
I could generate a long list of other things that support my fat loss like sleep, walking, interval training and a million other things. Sure, they’re great. But they also take time and effort. If they happen, awesome. That’s fantastic. But I invest my energy into my 20% because I know that’s where my results come from.
Your 20% will probably be different from mine! Do you know that you’re much more likely to stay on track when you plan out a weekly menu? Maybe that’s one of your big rocks! Are you someone who really notices a MAJOR difference when you prep your food a few times a week? Make that one of you 20% items. Maybe you know your success relies heavily on getting enough sleep. That should be on your list. At the end of the day it comes down to this: become a student of your own behavior and motivations. There is more learning that can come from knowing yourself than from any blog or expert out there.
What’s your 20%? Find it. Focus on it. That’s where your energy should be spent.