Saturday, January 29, 2011

80-20 Rule and The Seven Habits

I came across the Pareto principle while at work. It is more popularly known as the 80-20 rule such that 20% of the causes brings about 80% of the results. Though there are a variety of permutations that explains this principle, it just struck me hard enough to write a post about how I see it.

Lately, I am again falling into my old pattern of focusing too much on the 80% of stuff that only brings in 20% of the desired results I want. It should be the other way around. I should be able to focus my attention on the 20% of tasks that contribute to the 80% of my income. This means, more quality time at work, more quality time in my personal life, more quality time in every aspect of my life if possible, and less time doing the less important stuff.

This way, I can balance my time more, be able to do the other fulfilling things I want, while still earning my desired income. Thanks to the Pareto principle, this is another wake up call for me.

Coming across the 80-20 rule also brings to mind the 8 habits I learned from Stephen Covey:

1. Be Proactive
There was a time during the holidays when I found myself blaming my parents and grandparents again for how I turned out, thinking that I could've been a much better person if they only let me be. This habit must stop. I don't want to be reactive anymore to the external forces around me, be it my family, friends, workplace, etc. Being proactive means taking responsibility for my own life and my own choices. I've done that for several years and I hope to keep at it forever. I believe, taking charge over my health and my life (I'm now almost 1 month free of cigarettes, I've been biking and doing taebo exercises, I still eat fruits and veggies, I only watch movies and shows that make me happy, I make the time to do the things I love, I've let go of toxic jobs) plus the mere fact that I am recognizing this need for me to change my bad habits... all these things are example of being proactive about my life. After all, being proactive means doing something about things I can control and letting go of things that I can't. I think I'm doing a good job so far. ^_^

2. Begin with the End in Mind
This habit is as simple as knowing what you want to be when you grow up and I think I've already reached that childhood dream of mine. When I was a kid, all I wanted was to finish school, live in my own house, and earn my own money so I can do whatever I want. As general as it sounds, it was what I really wanted when I was young and now I'm living it. In fact, my all-time favorite mantra is just an expansion of that vision. It goes: "I am beautiful, happy, healthy, gorgeous, smart, sexy and wealthy. I have financial and time freedom. I am enjoying wonderful new horizons of opportunities and I love my life." And since I've already achieved that and I know I will keep living this mantra , perhaps, it's time for me to create a new personal mission statement or goal. It can be as broad as I want, as specific as I want, long-term or short-term. Honestly, this year, I just have three things major I want to accomplish that already encompass all my other mini goals:

- finish all my personal projects
- live on an island for one month
- and save as much money as I can (through biz and other investments)

Next year, going back to school and taking a masteral course in guidance counseling seems to be popping in my head again since I've always wanted to take a career in the field of psychology.

Having my goals in writing helps me begin each day with the end in mind. This way, my mission statement makes me the leader of my own life and helps create my own destiny and secure the future that I envision.

3. Put First Things First
Putting first things first is actually the combination of Habits 1 and 2 and the Pareto principle. Because I am now taking charge over my own destiny and I already have an end I want to achieve, it is easier to let go of other unimportant things. This awareness of putting first things first is a moment-by-moment decision, that in time, must come naturally for me. Though I love to explore all sorts of various opportunities, I have to sift through each one and let go of those that do not contribute to my end goal. This way, I am also able to follow the 80-20 rule, which means that by doing only 20% of tasks (the most important and essential ones), then I can achieve 80% of the results I want.

4. Think Win-Win
This is one of Stephen Covey's 7 habits that I am still struggling with. It's a code based on character, of which I have a lot of flaws that I am constantly trying to overcome. Thinking win-win is not a quick-fix solution to a problem. It's applying the abundance mentality which I've learned from The Secret and it involves human interaction and collaboration without being competitive and without the negative comparisons that come from interacting with other people. This habit is not about who's the best and who's a loser. Life is a cooperative arena and not a competitive one. This habit also brings to mind one of the things I learned from Jack Canfield's Success Principles, that people around me are there to help bring/give me what I want. Thinking win-win is a practice of inverse paranoia which I should always apply in my life.

5. Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood
I've had years of practice just seeking to understand other people. I've listened (and I still do) without judgment, without telling them any advice unless they ask me for one, without criticizing their decisions. Maybe this is why, after 3 decades, I am seeking to be understood as well. Nevertheless, I shouldn't stop trying to understand people and seeing things from their own perspective. After all, there are a billion or so people on this planet and all of them have a right to their own thoughts, feelings and eccentricities just like me.

6. Synergize
This habit is like the amalgamation of habits 4 and 5. Through human interaction, we learn that people are different and despite the differences, we accept and understand them. More so, through creative cooperation despite our eccentricities and differences, we can all come together as a better force whether in a company, in a team, in the family, etc.

By synergizing our positive attributes, we can create a better quality of life. This habit is definitely something that I should work on since I work alone most of the time.

7. Sharpen the Saw
Sharpening the saw is all about continuous self-enhancement. It's what I am actually trying do all these years, which is, to live a balanced life. I know I am nowhere near there and I can do much better. Sharpening the saw means taking care of myself physically, socially/emotionally, mentally and spiritually. Here are some steps I am taking to achieve the balance that I need:

Physical - right diet, proper exercise, right amount of rest ( I eat well and do regular exercise. I am now letting go of some jobs so I can take a rest.)

Social/Emotional - to make meaningful connections with others (I've recently bonded with a close friend who I haven't seen for a long time, I am currently bonding with my father-in-law, I am starting to seek out friends once again, I will try to find more time for my family)

Mental - this involves reading, writing, teaching and continuous learning (I believe I am able to enhance this aspect through my personal blogs where I share what I know including books I've read, places I've been, things I've learned along the way, etc.)

Spiritual - being able to meditate, spend time with nature, listen to music, appreciate art, pray (I think I am able to do this through my daily meditation and tarot card readings, I spend time with nature through my travels and even in my everyday bike ride here in our village with its many trees, I listen to my favorite music every so often and I am now making my own art through my crafts).

Stephen Covey has an 8th habit that I'd also like to dissect a bit --> Find your voice and inspire others to find theirs. I've bought a copy of the book and its workbook back in 2007 but I haven't finished reading it yet. So far, from what I understood, it's knowing who you are, knowing what you want and going for it, while in the process, inspiring others to find their own true selves too.

I think I already know who I am. I am not most people, I have my own set of eccentricities which are hard to swallow sometimes and I share them with all of you through my various personal blogs. I appreciate it so much when readers email me and tell me how much I've inspired or helped them. Half the time, I just do what I do because it makes me happy and I am glad when it inspires others to go for what they want too. Still, I know I have so many flaws and I'm not perfect. I do try to be better every day. With the help of Stephen Covey's 8 habits and the 80-20 rule, I hope to be more efficient and more productive, and be the best version of me. ^_^

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