Welcome to Day 4 of the 5-day Focus Challenge.
If you haven’t yet, make sure to complete Day 3 before attempting today’s challenge. Today’s challenge is all about identifying the ONE thing that will provide the most momentum towards creating the future you’ve always dreamed of and focusing on that.
Let’s get started.
We’re all busy. We’ve all got too much to do, and not enough time to do it in. So how in the world are we supposed to find time to focus on and consistently do the things that will create the future that we’ve always dream of?
It’s not as difficult as you think. But it does take a mindset shift. Once you understand that not all tasks are created equal, you can find the time to take significant action on your goals – even amidst the business of everyday life.
The Pareto Principle
The Pareto principle (or law of the vital few) states that for many events, roughly 80% of the results come from 20% of the efforts. For example:
- 80% of sales come from 20% of customers
- 80% of the errors come from 20% of the code
- 80% of the world’s wealth is owned by 20% of the population
In fact, according to Wikipedia, the Pareto principle was actually named after the Italian economist Vilfred Pareto, who observed that roughly 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the population. The story has it that he recognized this after noticing that about 20% of the pea pods in his garden contained about 80% of the peas.
The Pareto principle teaches us that roughly 80% of the value is achieved from only 20% of the effort. The same is true when deciding what to work on that will help you create your ideal future. You don’t need 40 extra hours per week in order to create the future you’ve always dreamed of. You just need to work smart by picking the things that will provide you biggest return on your time, attention, energy, and focus investment. So if you can identify the 20% of things you could be doing that provide 80% of the value and focus only on those things, you can maximize your results and create your ideal future faster than you ever thought possible. You just have to make it a priority.
Finding your one thing
In the book Essentialism, Greg McKeown talks about how the word “priority” came into the English language in the 1400s as a singular noun. It literally meant the very first or prior thing. It stayed singular for about the next 500 years or so.
It actually wasn’t until the 1900s that people started pluralizing the word and talking about multiple priorities. Illogically, we reasoned that by changing the word we could bend reality and somehow we would be able to have multiple “first” things.
Even though this makes absolutely no sense, people and companies routinely try to do just that. In the book, Greg talks about how one business leader in a company that talked about “Priority 1, Priority 2, Priority 3, Priority 4, and Priority 5, etc.” This gave the impression that many things were the priority, but in reality, it actually meant that nothing was.
Your goal today is to identify and prioritize the ONE thing you can do tomorrow that will provide the greatest movement towards creating your ideal future. It doesn’t have to be big or important, it just has to be significant. Leverage the Pareto principle and apply the 80/20 rule to creating your ideal future.
80/20 the 80/20
While many people have never even thought about their life in terms of the Pareto principle, where things get interesting is when you apply the 80/20 rule to the 80/20. If you apply the 80/20 rule to the 20% of things that are providing you 80% of value, you end up with only 4% of actions creating 64% of the value!
This is important because it means that no matter how much time you have to devote towards creating your ideal future, you can still make significant progress by choosing the right things to work on.
Look back at the five things you identified yesterday which will help you achieve your ideal future. Which one will provide the biggest impact? This is not the same as how big the task is – the smallest task might actually be the one that makes the biggest impact.
Make sure that you select the thing that will provide the greatest return on your time investment if you could only do 1 of them. This is the 80/20 for your ideal future, and what you are going to work on tomorrow during your focus block.
Once you’re done, let us know what your one thing is in the comments below. Then get ready to take action tomorrow!