Getting to 40%

Applying the 80/20 Rule to Purpose & Happiness

Most of us have heard the Pareto Principle or “the 80/20 rule”. Essentially it states that 80% of results are yielded from 20% of efforts. This is used to describe the key efforts driving the majority of results in fields such as economics, business, technology and health. What’s important is not the actual numbers, rather the extreme imbalance they represent.

What if we applied these principles to our own purpose and happiness? I often consider and discuss integrating purpose and happiness into life because there never seems to be enough time to live and be happy and be fulfilled. But, what happens when we use the 80/20 rule for both?

First, I think it’s important to realize that we will never be 100% happy or 100% fulfilled. Our human nature is always on the lookout for more. So let’s work for 80% - 90% and learn to better appreciate the feeling of mostly happy and mostly fulfilled.

Now that you’re expectations are managed, let’s apply the 80/20 rule to our own purpose and happiness, 20% of our time is spent on each – 40% of our time total. Assuming we get 8 hours of sleep each night (don’t laugh. It’s important – do it!), that’s 6.4 hours a day spent on feeling fulfilled and happy.

As someone who constantly thinks about the constant struggle between life, purpose and happiness, I find that fascinating. Not only do I have time to be fulfilled and happy, but I also have 9.6 hours left over! What could I do with that 9.6 hours a day? Pay the bills, take care of those lame, responsible adult chores, binge on Game of Thrones. And House of Cards. And Mad Men. I’m really behind.

Like I mentioned before, the actual numbers are less important. What’s crazy to think about is that maybe purpose and happiness don’t need to be integrated into every aspect of our lives in order for us to feel them both. If we’re more intentional about doing the things that bring us the most happiness and purpose, can’t we get most of the way there and still leave enough room for the not-so-exciting parts of life?

Sounds reasonable to me, but what do you think?