80/20 Rule for a Balanced Life
What is the 80/20 rule?
To put it simply, it is a rule about balance. There are not many things in your life or your world that can be on 100% of the time. Too much of anything, even a good thing, makes it a bad thing. So, 80% of the time you are focused, you are making healthy and intelligent choices, you are managing, and being responsible. The other 20% is a little bit more fluid. This doesn’t mean ruin your life in the 20%, it means give yourself a break. Give your body a rest, give your brain a vacation, give yourself whatever it is you need. You can apply this to your nutrition and your exercise of course, but apply it to your whole life. Make sure you are taking the time to re-energize and the time to focus on you.
Sometimes more than 80, sometimes more than 20.
There may be times in your life that you find you have to push a little bit harder for something. This doesn’t happen all the time, but it is important to be prepared for when it does. This is your more than 80%. Understanding what circumstances deserve and require more effort and what circumstance do not, is important.
There will also be times that you need a bit more than 20%. To understand when to take a break, you need to recognize when you are run down, physically or mentally. In our culture, it’s harder and harder to turn off. Taking a break, or backing off isn’t something to apologize for.
Realistically, if we did everything 50/50, we wouldn’t actually go anywhere. While life is about balance, it is also about progress and growth.
What happens if I try to be 100% on 100% of the time?
You see it all the time, maybe it even happens to you… you try to go 100% without a break. Then the only break that happens is you. Maybe it was a strict new diet you decided to start, but quickly found it wasn’t sustainable so you had to quit it. Or you jumped on a workout challenge that had you exercising every day but you found you were waking up sore and felt terrible so you stopped. Maybe it was even giving too much of yourself at work without taking a breather.
Likewise, complete restriction of anything is a dangerous game - unsustainable and unrealistic. It can lead to binging behaviors and feeling out of control. Starting with huge ideas and making HUGE changes? They rarely stick. Choose small behaviours that you can slowly add into your normal life and routine. And don't beat yourself up over missteps - recognize your successes. Like a rubber band, if you go too hard one way - the only way you’re going is right back to where you started.
Work towards your end goals, but don't let that be the only focus. The true learning’s in the journey.
Leading a balanced life
Listen To Your Body: As always, our body knows best. If it feels good, keep it up. Look out for the physical and mental signs of being burnt out or being out of control. Establish the positive and negative causes for how you feel, and do your best to work them out.
Plan Ahead & Set Goals: Setting yourself specific goals will give you an idea of what amount of work you need to expect. Be specific: what you want to achieve and when you want to achieve it. This is the best way to stay motivated and on track. No matter what goals you set, make sure they are realistic and achievable for you. By planning ahead, when the time comes to put in more than 80%, you will know what you need to and what you need to expect.
Reflect & Adjust: Check in with yourself. Our lives are constantly changing and our priorities are evolving. This is totally normal. You never have to apologize for reprioritizing. Give some time to reflect on your approach and results, and adjust what worked and what didn’t to make positive changes going forward.