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Applying the 80/20 Principle to Health

Pareto's 80/20 rule

The ‘80/20 rule’ or ‘Pareto’s principle’ is described as: ‘for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes’.

The principle was named after Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto who in 1896 worked out that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the population.

Since then the principle has been verified as a ‘natural law’ and used in countless studies and books as reference. 3 interesting ones are: Sporting teams (20% of the playing roster affect 80% of the result), in healthcare 20% of patients use 80% of the resources and even in crime- 80% of the crimes are committed by 20% of the criminals.

If you are looking for significant change in any area of your life: health, personal finances, career, relationships etc it is extremely beneficial to identify the ‘20%’ which controls the 80% of the result. This may make sense but actually identifying it can be challenging and ultimately very confronting. Its also common that when someone is stuck not getting the results that they desire that they naturally fixate on the ‘80%’ which really doesn’t have an impact on the result. 

The above pattern shows up consistently around people managing their body composition and what they focus on particularly with regards to nutrition and training. 

Typically, people who are stuck every Sunday night will be thinking about what new diet they are going to try this week, what new training method they are going to attempt next or what new coach they can seek out for a new plan. 

Doing this makes up 80% of your time but still you are left with not reaching your objective  and not seeing any long term change in their results. Instead doing this on a Sunday night it would be better if we could first  identify and then put strategies into place on how to change the 20% that is driving the result we could move towards to so that you get a more positive outcome. 

This could mean a number of things: addressing over eating and drinking, focusing more on what happens sat/sun then Mon-Fri, sleeping patterns, increasing training volume and intensity. It could mean changing friend groups or even partners. Like mentioned earlier, identlfying your 20% can be intimidating, but if you don’t want the same result, then stop doing the same thing and having the same patterns of behavior. 

As a wise man once said to me “If nuthin changes, nuthin changes”.

In my experience a good coach is always trying to help you find your 20% and then work with you to create strategies on how to implement change. Be brave and identify your 20%, that’s the first step in progressing to long term success in health and fitness.

Do you need help getting your 20% and support in achieving your fitness goals?  

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