You Can Always Get What You Want
By: Hubert Crowell
"Things that matter most, must never be at the mercy of things that matter least." Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Most of us don't work out what we want. And most of us end up with lopsided lives as a result. We may get work right and relationships wrong or the other way around. The 80/20 Principle records this sorry state. Twenty percent of what we do leads to 80 percent of the results. But 80 percent of what we do leads to only 20 percent. We are wasting 80 percent of out effort on low-value outcomes.
If we follow the 80/20 Principle, we can work less, earn more, enjoy more, and achieve more. To do this we must start with a rounded view of everything we want.
Do you enjoy life?
What about work?
Almost everyone needs to work, whether it is paid or not. We should not allow work to take over our lives, however much we claim to enjoy it. The 80/20 Principle can provide a good measure and a good way to see whether you should work more of less. If you are happier outside of work than at work, you should work less and/or change your job. If you are happier at work than outside of work, you should work more and/or change your social life. You haven't got it right until you are equally happy at work and not at work, and until you are happy at least 80 percent of the time at work and 80 percent of the time not at work.
There does not have to be any conflict between your work life and the things you enjoy outside of work. You may be able to work in an area that is your hobby or even turn your hobby into a business. Enthusiasm can lead to success, it is often easier to make an enthusiasm into a career than to become enthusiastic about a career dictated by others.
Whatever you do, be clear about the optimum point you are trying to reach and view it within your life's total context. This is easier said than done: old habits are hard to break and the importance of a lifestyle is easily set aside for career.
Which type of career will make you happiest?
Draw 6 boxes, three on top and three on the bottom, label the upper three High and the lower three Low. From left to right label the left two, "Prefer working in organizations," middle two, "Prefer being a self-employed sole trader," right two, "Prefer employing or organizing others." Number the boxes 1 through 3 on the top and 4 through 6 on the bottom. Try to select the box that describes you best.
Box 1 people are highly ambitious but prefer to work in a context organized and provided by others. These jobs are with large organizations and the need for these jobs may be falling. If you want this type of role, you should recognize this and pursue your ambition, however unfashionable it may become. Large organizations still provide structure and status even if they can no longer provide security. I retired from this type of organization at a time when they did provide security in the form of a retirement plan. Few companies now offer retirement plans other than the 401K type plans.
Box 2 people are typically professionals who have a drive for recognition by their peers or who want to be the best in their field. They want to be independent and do not fit well into organizations. If you are like this, you should become self-employed as quickly as possible. You should also resist the temptation to employ other people as they want to avoid professional dependence on others as far as possible.
Box 3 people have high drive and ambition, hate being employed but do not want the lonely life of the sole trader. They may be unconventional, but they are builders: they want to build a web or a structure around themselves. They are tomorrow's entrepreneurs. If you want to work with other people, but not for them, you are a Box 3 person.
Box 4 people do not give a high drive for career achievement but do enjoy working with others. They would ensure that they spend many hours a week doing so, either in a conventional job or in a voluntary role.
Box 5 people are not ambitious but do have a strong desire for autonomy in their work. Rather than set up their own firm, the best role for Box 5 people is as freelancers, working on particular projects for other firms to suit their own convenience.
Box 6 people are individuals whose need for career achievement is low but who enjoy the process of organizing and developing others. Many teachers, social workers, and charity workers are Box 6 people and are well suited to their roles. For Box 6 people the journey is everything; there is no need to arrive.
Many people gravitate toward their "right" box, but where alienation at work exists it is often because the person is in the wrong box.
What about money?
What indeed! Most people think it's more important than it is and more difficult to get than it is. How do you obtain money in the first place? The best answer, one that works surprisingly often, is to do something that you enjoy.
If you enjoy something, you are likely to be good at it. If you are good at something, you can create something that will satisfy others and they will generally pay you well for it.
Once you have a little spare cash, it can be easily multiplied. Save and invest.
I have a friend, Dave that does quite well pumping stocks. Dave has found some stocks that are cyclic and he has set guide lines for buying and selling. When a stock reaches his high goal, he sells and then places a buy order at the low goal. When the stock reaches his low goal, he buys and then places a sell order again at the high goal. He does not have to work hard or keep track of the stocks, only waits for the orders to execute.
If this sounds complicated, then just buy a index fund and hold it for the long haul.
What about achievement?
There are people who want to achieve and then there are sane people. All motivational writers fall into the trap of telling you that you need direction and purpose in life. Then they tell you that you don't have it. Then they put you through the agony of deciding what it should be. Finally, they tell you what they think you ought to do.
So if you don't want to achieve anything specific and are happy enough going through life having it all (minus achievement), count yourself lucky and read no further.
But if you want achievement and want to increase it, the 80/20 Principle can help you.
Achievement should be easy. It shouldn't be "99 percent perspiration and 1 percent inspiration." Instead, see if it's true that 80 percent of your achievement to date, measured by what you yourself value, has come from 20 percent of your inputs. If true or nearly true, then think carefully about this top 20 percent. Could you simply repeat the achievements? Upgrade them? Reproduce similar ones on a grander scale? Combine two previous achievements to compound the satisfaction?
What about relationships?
We've dealt with work, with lifestyle, with money, and with achievement. To have it all, you also need a few satisfying relationships. This will require another article.
This is just a few of the insights covered in the book, The 80/20 Principle by Richard Koch.
Assignment: Read Chapter 11 of The 80/20 Principle, By Richard Koch, ISBN 0-385-49174-3
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What Box describes you best? Explain if you think that you are in the right box or the wrong box.
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