An 80/20 life is a good life to live. I’ve lived my 80/20 life mostly unconsciously through my 20s. Now in my 30s, I’ve consciously found solace through it.
What most people will not tell you throughout your life is that everybody has their own set of problems that they’re trying to solve on a day-to-day basis. As you age, you swap out certain problems for new ones. But the constant is that everyone is always working through their own set of problems.
You get older. You expose yourself to more stress. Your anxiety spikes whether you’re aware of it or not. How you lived in your teens and 20s starts to catch up to you. Your mental health may start to become a daily problem.
That challenge may then bring back pain. You may have sat on your ass too long in your 20s while proving your worth at work behind a desk. The stress compounds and may lead to challenges with fertility, chronic disease, and sleep problems.
Everyone has a different journey, but this message serves as a reminder for those younger than 30 to heed this message and for those older than 30 to seriously consider an 80/20 lifestyle.
What is an 80/20 lifestyle? It’s very simple really. Many of the things you do in your daily life are 80/20 by nature. The problem however is that the ratio may not be flipped in your favor and causing the same damage it caused me.
Through my 20s, I sat 80% of my day in front of a computer screen. I developed “tech neck” which is a strain and pain that develops in the neck, shoulders, and back due to prolonged use of smart devices.
I would place them on a flat surface or in my lap and look down at them. I became a hunchback and found this lead to immense pain, stiffness, and regular headaches. My posture really suffered and would accelerate carpal tunnel, eye strain, and fatigue.
I wasn’t aware of my horrible habit, nor could I escape from the computer due to my ambition. If I could go back in time, I would’ve took frequent breaks and maybe considered a more active career choice where I could be on my feet more often.
Now that I’m 31, I’m doing everything I can to reverse this. I try to be 80% active and only sitting for the periods I’m required to. When I’m sitting, I’m actively trying to correct my posture and use a standing desk while stretching regularly.
While this is one major example of an imbalance of the 80/20 rule, there are so many to live by that aren’t that obvious, but add up in one’s life when you become aware of.
Let’s talk about breathing. You may hear a stigma behind mouth breathing and you’d be right. That’s because we should only use our mouth for breathing 20% of the time. The mouth will get us much more oxygen than the nose can, but it risks hyperventilating. Most of your daily life, you’d want to be breathing through your nose. But when you’re doing strenuous activities or practicing breath work, you might want to use your mouth instead.
How about learning? 80% of your time should be spend passively learning through reading, watching, and listening. But to make the most progress, one may need to actively learn the other 20%. This is also known as being “hands-on” and experiencing. How often do you actually apply the learning? It should be 20%.
With exercising, we often find a level that is comfortable for us such as a light jog, run, or pace on the elliptical. That’s the 80%. But most people tend to only do the 80% of an aerobic workout. They forget about the 20% hard anaerobic work that actually leads to the results they desire.
When recovering from workouts or daily life, we tend to use the two extremes of hot and cold therapy. There’s a common rule to use 1 minute of cold therapy for every 4 minutes of hot therapy. But again, many people do not follow this 80/20 rule. They either overdo the cold or heat and neglect the other.
Spending our money tends to show 80% of our paycheck disappears into thin air. Retirement experts will generally say 10-15% of your income to be saved each year. However, many do not even save a penny and spend to live life in the now. Again, another example of forgetting to follow this simple principle.
Here’s a more nuanced example. Desire and satisfaction. Human brains are trained for satisfaction. After all, majority of our lives we are chasing small hits of dopamine through various types of transient satisfaction. We tend to completely ignore the 80% of the desire that leads to the 20% of satisfaction.
For it is the desire that makes anything so satisfying. The job promotion you desire for years only to celebrate it at a Red Lobster the day it’s announced. The desire however is so powerful that you tend to forget that it drove you to achieve in the first place.
Long term, the 80% of your wealth will come from the 20% of investments you make. Any successful investor will tell you one or two stories about their “big win” compared to all of their failures. You only have to win once or twice to see great wealth. You cannot possibly win consistently in such a chaotic machine known as the stock market.
You don’t need to read books specifying every scenario or detail about the 80/20 life. You just need to live it. You will soon enough come to the same conclusions as I did in which living it requires awareness that we are doing the right 20% majority of the time. That we are not ignoring the 20% that leads to our outcomes, that we are aware enough that we are living in it.