the 80/20 rule to change your life


Some of you may have heard of the 80/20 rule somewhere before, it’s also known as Pareto principle or the law of the vital few. It is basically a principle based on the assumption that most of the results in any situation are determined by a small number of causes, ie. 80% of your outcome is determined by 20% of your input.

Let me give you an example:

In a business scenario, a company can identify the top 20% of its clients that are generating the most revenue for them and focus on that 20% to generate the 80% of their revenue.

The 80/20 rule teaches you to focus on the right things and has changed the way I live my life a whole lot.

1. Productivity

So how can we apply this 80/20 rule even when we’re not involved in business? Well, the 80/20 rule can be applied in our lives to firstly help us to be more productive as a whole.

Let’s say we have a stack of things that we need to do lined up ahead of us. We could maximize our productivity by analyzing which ones of the pile are the most important 20%, and focus those first. By completing those important tasks first, we would be able to achieve a major part of our end result even when it’s only completing 20% of the stack.

This way, you could be more efficient and effective in generating the results you desire.

2. Happiness

When we start to examine our lives, we may be able to identify components within it that we can breakdown into 80/20 ratios. We only have one life, and ensuring we are filling it with as much happiness as we can is SO important. To maximize happiness, it is extremely useful to identify the 20% things that truly make YOU happy as a person. Whatever that sparks joy in you, something that you’re passionate about  –  focus on it and do more of it. Try to avoid wasting time on the 80% things that provides little satisfaction for you. This way, the key 20% input of doing more things that make you happy is able to help you generate 80% of the output which is the value you bring to people around you. When you are happier as a person, you are able to contribute more to your own life as well as the people around you.

3. Living Healthier

When it comes to living healthier, the 80/20 rule can come into play as well!


Applying the 80/20 rule can help you to achieve the results you want from your exercise routine more effectively and efficiently!

Here's how:

1. Identify 20% of the exercises among your routine that can contribute the most to the results you desire

2. Implement them more often

It's as simple as that.


When it comes to eating healthier using the 80/20 rule, there is a slightly different concept as compared to the original. The 80/20 rule for eating healthy is basically a principle of eating exactly the way you planned 80% of the time and allowing some slip-ups 20% of the time.

This makes the whole process of eating healthier more realistic and sustainable in the long-run. Restricted goals and plans only makes us feel the lack of freedom, like it’s some sort of punishment. Thus we tend to drop the whole idea of eating healthier all together after a while.

I like the idea of using the 80/20 rule for eating healthy because it emphasizes that we are not 100% perfect and we can and should allow slip-ups sometimes. After all, it’s all about living a balanced lifestyle, right?

What to use that 20% allowance for can vary differently for different people. Some people may use it to treat themselves to something they would not allow themselves to eat on a strict plan, it all depends on what standards you set for yourself that you are comfortable with.

It essentially reiterates the fact that we do not have to be 100% perfect in everything we do and it is okay to let loose and slip-up sometimes, if conditions allow.

Of course, you have to be disciplined and not allow yourself to indulge too much to allow the 20% to grow into 40% and consequently 80%!

4.  Relationships

Other than leading a healthier lifestyle, there is also a very useful way we could use the 80/20 rule to better manage our relationships with people

In this case, I’m going to use the relationship with your significant other as an example!

Our partners have both good and bad sides to them. While they may not be the most punctual person or the most good-looking person, they do also possess good qualities such as being caring and attentive to areas which you might not notice, or putting in the effort to get along well with your family. Those bad qualities make up 20%, but the rest of the 80% are actually really good.

We humans often find it difficult to be contented with what we have now, and tend to always be on the look-out for something better. The 80/20 rule for relationships essentially teaches us that we should be contented with the 80% that we have, instead of constantly venturing out to find that 20% that our partners lack. Yes, we always want what we can’t have, but is it worth it?

Let’s say one day, you really meet someone with that 20% that your partner lacks, and you eventually get together with him or her because you think – wow, he/she’s everything I’m looking for. But is that 20% really everything?

Do you really gain anything at all, when you sacrificed that 80% you already had, just to get that 20% that was probably something insignificant? It’s not worth it, is it?

So by keeping this rule in mind, it reminds us to be contented with what we have now, because in fact, nobody can ever reach the 100% mark of being perfect for someone else. There is always that 20% that we are not contented with. But why focus on that 20%, when we are blessed with the 80% that is amazing?

Focus on the 80%, and be contented with the now. Forget about the insignificant 20% and don’t let it entice you to give up something amazing and hard to find.

I hope you found this helpful for improving these different aspects of your life, because I definitely have! The 80/20 rule changed my perspective on so many things and I hope it would have the same impact on you.

Vinita Tang