Most of us are quite familiar with the basic Pareto Principle. Essentially it sets out the idea that 80% of your results will derive from 20% of the effort you put in.

So bearing this in mind wouldn’t it be just great if you could identify which of your activities fall into the 20% bracket so you could do more of these and less of the activities that don’t really add so much? So you can try to figure this out I offer you a 4-part exercise to help you establish what the 20% looks like.

So get yourself into a quiet place with a pen, some paper and an open mind. Give yourself around an hour to do the exercise.

Thinking and Remembering

With your pen in hand think back over the last 12-months and scribble down everything you’ve done in an effort to progress your career or business. Nothing is too small to record, if you think it, write it, if you thought it, it’s important (for now at least). Things you might include could be; taking a class, reading a book, writing a blog post, going to a conference, getting new promo-head shots done, quitting your job, learning a new language… As you can see a lot of things could make the list.

If you find the things you’ve done fall into broad categories then start to group them so for example writing a blog post; you may have written many so which were business and career focused and which were you just talking to the universe? This’ll help later on with getting through the hard part of reflecting on what you’ve listed.

This isn’t supposed to be massively detailed and you don’t have to agonize over process, give yourself around 20 minutes or so to do it, that should be plenty of time.

List your Wins for the Year just gone

Honestly this should be no more than 10 minutes to do. Anything that you see as a win, a positive move on your part goes on the list.

So you might have started to learn a new language but you struggled with a particular phrase or setting and then you nailed it one day – now that’s a win! and that goes on the list.

Cause and Effect

Okay so now you have to link the two lists to start making some sense.

What you’re looking for is actions from list one, the things you’ve done in the last 12-months list that caused or contributed to events that happened on list two, the wins list. Again 10 minutes max for this bit.

The what are you going to do moment

Right so now you know what works, what your 20% looks like.

It should seem fairly clear by now what sort of things you can do to increase the likelihood of a win, the question is what are you going to do now you have the knowledge?

This bit requires you to honestly reflect on what you’ve just uncovered. It’s never as simple as saying you’ll stop doing the 80% stuff, you might enjoy doing it after all even if it’s not so effective. The key is the importance you place on self-improvement or career improvement or business growth. You might just be happy as you are. But you will be in a position of knowledge so at any time you feel you can cut out some of the 80% stuff and add a bit more of the 20% stuff.

What you’re looking for is balance and happiness and career and business stuff, although important – its how you earn your living and get the cash to pay your bills after all so you can’t just overlook them – well they are not always the things that bring you the most joy in life.

So don’t over do it!

Do you need help?

Of course the above seems like a simple process of making list’s and reflecting on them. But it’s more than that, if done properly it should go deep. You may find you want a coach to help you discover the truth and if you do get in touch at for information about how Philip Dawson can help you.

Philip Dawson MBA – Organisational Consultant & Executive Coach and Mentor

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