Most people fall into one or more of the following traps. They spend a lot
of time with people they do not much like. They do jobs they are not
enthusiastic about. They use up most of their ‘free time’ (incidentally an
anti-hedonistic concept) on activities they do not greatly enjoy. The reverse
is also true. They do not spend most time with the people they like most;
they do not pursue the career they would most like; and they do not use
most of their free time on the activities they enjoy most. They are not
optimists, and even those who are optimists do not plan carefully to make
their future lives better.
80/20 insights for individuals
The rest of Part Three will explore 80/20 insights for your personal life,
some of which can be sampled here as a taster. It only takes action on a few
insights to improve greatly the quality of your life.
! 80 per cent of achievement and happiness takes place in 20 per cent of
our time—and these peaks can be expanded greatly.
! Our lives are profoundly affected, for good and ill, by a few events and
a few decisions. The few decisions are often taken by default rather than
conscious choice: we let life happen to us rather than shaping our own lives.
We can improve our lives dramatically by recognizing the turning points
and making the decisions that will make us happy and productive. There are
always a few key inputs to what happens and they are often not the obvious
ones. If the key causes can be identified and isolated, we can very often
exert more influence on them than we think possible.
! Everyone can achieve something significant. The key is not effort, but
finding the right thing to achieve. You are hugely more productive at some
things than at others, but dilute the effectiveness of this by doing too many
things where your comparative skill is nowhere near as great.
! There are always winners and losers—and always more of the latter.
You can be a winner by choosing the right competition, the right team and
the right methods to win. You are more likely to win by rigging the odds in
your favour (legitimately and fairly) than by striving to improve your
performance. You are more likely to win again where you have won before.
You are more likely to win when you are selective about the races you
! Most of our failures are in races for which others enter us. Most of our
successes come from races we ourselves want to enter. We fail to win most
races because we enter too many of the wrong ones: their ones, not our
! Few people take objectives really seriously. They put average effort into
too many things, rather than superior thought and effort into a few
important things. People who achieve the most are selective as well as
! Most people spend most of their time on activities that are of low value
to themselves and others. The 80/20 thinker escapes this trap and can
achieve much more of the few higher-value objectives without noticeably
! One of the most important decisions someone can make in life is their
choice of allies. Almost nothing can be achieved without allies. Most people
do not choose their allies carefully or even at all. The allies somehow arrive.
This is a serious case of letting life happen to you. Most people have the
wrong allies. Most also have too many and do not use them properly. 80/20
thinkers choose a few allies carefully and build the alliances carefully to
achieve their specific objectives.
! An extreme case of carelessness with allies is picking the wrong
‘significant other’ or life partner. Most people have too many friends and do
not enjoy an appropriately selected and reinforced inner circle. Many people
have the wrong life partners—and even more do not nurture the right life
! Money used rightly can be a source of opportunity to shift to a better
lifestyle. Few people know how to multiply money, but 80/20 thinkers
should be able to do so. As long as money is subordinated to lifestyle and
happiness, there is no harm in this ability
! Few people spend enough time and thought cultivating their own
happiness. They seek indirect goals, like money and promotion, that may be
difficult to attain and will prove when they are attained to be extremely
inefficient sources of happiness. Not only is happiness not money, it is not
even Eke money. Money not spent can be saved and invested and, through
the magic of compound interest, multiplied. But happiness not spent today
does not lead to happiness tomorrow. Happiness, like the mind, will atrophy
if not exercised. 80/20 thinkers know what generates their happiness and
pursue it consciously, cheerfully and intelligently, using happiness today to
build and multiply happiness tomorrow.