The 80/20 Rule

I’m sure most of you have heard at least somewhere about the 80/20 rule.  It is applied in many circumstances and a lot of the time in relation to wealth than 20% of the people have 80% of the money.  Well the 80/20 rule also applies to personal development and our issues as well.
Sometimes when someone starts to look at what they want to change about themselves they are flooded with information.  What starts as something small like wanting to have more self esteem ends up in this huge list of habits and traits that you find annoying until it gets overwhelming and you give up altogether.  And I’d give up too if the reality really was you had to address each one of those issues directly.
So I have good news for you.  The 80/20 rule is also applied to you, meaning that if you concentrate on tackling the 20% then the 80% will take care of itself.  The reality is the ‘symptoms’ that you think are your issues are not really your core issues, they are just the 80% fluff that are buffering your issues.  Which is why it’s hard to get rid of them even though you’ve probably tried at numerous times to feel more positive, not binge drink or know you are deserving.  But strangely what I hear from people is that they always revert back to how they were originally.
Psychology actually has a term for it, it’s called the hedonic treadmill, meaning no matter how hard we try we’ll always end up back at the same place.  But not only is that depressing it’s not true either.  If you tackle the core of your issues, why you are that way to begin with, then you will not always revert back to the same old you as you’ll be changing yourself deep within.
The 20% of issues are the biggies and when we look at those head on, like a ripple effect in a pond the 80% of issues tend to get sorted out indirectly.  It’s a decision about whether you just want to put a band aid on your scraped knee or if you want to figure out how you hurt it in the first place.
Here’s an example of the 20% so you know what I mean by our core issues:

  • Feeling abandoned/rejected/betrayed by people especially your partner.
  • Feeling that you are not good enough in your own eyes or other people’s eyes (which is really what low self esteem is).
  • Having control issues, trouble letting go and being vulnerable.
  • Trusting in life and others (including yourself).
  • Feeling you have to be a good boy/girl and get the approval of others.
  • Feeling criticized and put down by others close to you and then putting that on yourself.

I find most people have between 2-5 core issues in their 20% and then the rest are just symptoms of their core issues.    So don’t go crazy thinking of everything under the sun, think of the issues that really effect you on a deep level, the ones you know you have carried for a long time.
All the other elements are symptoms, feelings generated from this 20% such as feeling angry or resentful, feeling needy or wanting to withdraw, feeling depressed and anxious.  On top of that personality traits then build on these symptoms so they can feel very fixed and permanent like that is who we are, not just part of our personality that got the wrong message somewhere along the line.
If you really want to change your life and make a difference, you need to find your 20%.  What is really going on for you under the anger, anxiety, depression or low self esteem and what made you that way.  When you address things from this level the changes you make are permanent and ripple out effecting every area of your life.




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