Intentional Leader

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Can 80/20 be a good system? Part 2

How was your experience looking for 80/20 relationships around you?

Are you ready to explore the concept more and take the first steps to apply it? Let’s do it! But first, let’s watch this video. (Don’t be distracted by the amazing couture, okay?)

How do you apply 80/20?

Step 1: Know yourself – The Scientist

All journeys have a beginning so let’s start by bringing out your inner scientist. As you review your goal, think about what your biggest challenge is to accomplish it. Generally, it will be time but it could also be income, space, relying on someone else, a piece of equipment etc. It could be more than one thing but keep it simple and start with one dimension. So, let’s say your goal is to run a 5K race this year and your biggest challenge is that you only have 30 minutes available for a workout, start by understanding how you use those 30 minutes and what to prepare for from a motivation standpoint as well.

Tactical: This is an assessment on how you manage the time/other challenge today. For example: What exercises do you do, how many are running related, outdoors or indoors, is there a fixed time of day or are you flexible, what do you do before and after the workout, with or without a group or partner?

Motivational: This is a measure of your motivations, that inner voice that keeps you going. For example: how do you motivate yourself on regular days and tough days (mine are cold, windy days), how did you reward yourself when you achieved a milestone, what distractions hold you back or have held you back in the past, how have you overcome them, what triggers your strongest habits (time, place, people)?

Dig deep and don’t be hard on yourself. You definitely have a lot within that’s untapped and unexplored. Write what you learn in a journal if you’re comfortable. I highly recommend it.

80/20 question – What do I spend 80% of my time on today?

Step 2: Know your goal – The Futurist

Now, bring out your inner futurist to imagine what your routine would look like if you achieved your goal. As a futurist, you can conduct exciting research into similar goals from your past or other’s achievements to imagine a future you. Taking our current goal for example, you will be running more or less 5K distances a few days every week, perhaps different types of runs mixed with rest or recovery days. This is a very exciting step because you’re discovering and imagining who future you is.

80/20 question – What should I spend 80% of that time on?

Step 3: Design your path – The Engineer

This is a pretty cool step because you now get to reverse engineer from future you to current you. Thus you will begin to shape what needs to change, what needs to stay, what needs to be strengthened, what needs to stop. You were limitless before, now you are pragmatic and narrowing down to a few or one option that will get you going and identifying anything you are doing today that stands between current you and future you. Three things to keep in mind here:

  • You are not setting targets yet, instead you are working backwards from your goal to determine what you’ll need. For example: You’ll need to dedicate Monday, Wednesday and Friday to running but 30 minutes may not be enough because you need to warm up, so you’ll need to take time from something else or find a safe running path close to home. Also, you may want something that conveniently tracks your miles while you run so you can track progress.
  • Dig deep into your motivations too to look for things that motivate you, you want to pull these ahead so they bolster your big motivation. Similarly, eliminate or increase the friction to do the things that cause you to slow down. For example: Get a running app like Nike Run Club to motivate you (like me)
  • Don’t look for perfection in your plan. You simply need enough to get started and one to five things you will measure. The plan and measurement will change over time so it’s good to not get too attached to it. For example: Initially, you might only measure number of running days. Later, perhaps miles or smiles per day (remember to smile). The objective is to give yourself something to focus on that diminishes the value of the distractions.

80/20 Question: What do I need to do to focus on my 80?

Step 4: Execute – Be like Mario

Have you ever played Donkey Kong? The premise of the legendary (or classic for the younger generation) Nintendo game is simple – Mario (you) needs to get to Pauline (your goal) to rescue her from Donkey Kong (challenges, distractions). It’s a nice analogy for this step, which is:

  • You won’t get closer to your goal without moving forward so you need to start. The game has started and Kong has already started throwing things at you.
  • You need to move up one level at a time. Without a hack, you cannot instantly get to the top of the construction site and to Pauline.
  • Just because you have a plan doesn’t mean you’ll get to your goal. Kong will make sure of it by randomly throwing things at you so you need to adapt.
  • The more you play, the better you get
Just watch the first few minutes to get the general idea

That’s what this step is about. Start on your goal; break it up into smaller goals; be present – be aware of your progress and your surroundings and be ready to adjust as life comes at you.

Tip: Set your initial target to between 5-20% of your goal and adapt your plan for the present

So, for our original 5K goal and you’ve never run before, you can set your initial target to run 250 meters and walk the rest. As you advance, if your target is to run 3 days of the week, start with 1 day of the week running and walking the rest. The power is yours; the target is yours. You just need to make a little challenging.

5-20% is not just an arbitrary number. Remember Pareto’s logic of the critical 20% that consume 80% of your time and the trivial 80% that consume 20% of your time. The idea is to first try to rationalize the 20% of time that is spent doing trivial things because they would be the easiest things to let go off, while the critical ones will be harder to let go of.

Learn, Improve, Grow – The Virtuoso

If you’ve ever watched a virtuoso play an instrument, they make it look so effortless but behind all of that incredible talent is hours of consistent practice aimed at improvement and an unrelenting excitement for their intention.

Steve Vai on motivation and focus

So now, you can build and sustain your own 80/20 system:

  • LEARN: (Step 1 and 2)
    • Review the few metrics that matter, see what’s working and not working.
    • Check your motivation – which rewards are working, which distractions are getting harder to overcome. It’s not just about the numbers, it’s about you becoming a better you
    • Get excited by learning new things about your goal and find new ways to enjoy it so it doesn’t get stale e.g. join a group that shares a similar goal, talk to your friends and family about it, write to me about it!
  • IMPROVE: (Step 3)
    • Aim to get a little bit better every day or every week. A best practice for motivation is to try to get 1-5% better than before
    • Adapt your plan based on what you’re learning from the present about yourself and your goal
    • Reduce friction for the habits that matter and increase friction for the habits that distract
  • GROW: (Step 4)
    • Remind yourself of your intention every day. Get a poster, make a note/a mark, send a message #WillRunAgain
    • Don’t wait for perfection – take a step forward and be in the present when you’re working on your goal
    • Celebrate the little wins (even starting is a win). Know that we all win when you win.
    • Don’t be afraid of setbacks or of asking for help. Setbacks are only a problem when you don’t come back to the starting line. Give yourself time to recover and know that asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness

Now, try out some of the steps with your goal. Start simple. It’s okay to be stuck and to feel stuck – send me a message. I am confident you will get around it. I look forward to hearing from you!

If you liked this and would like more, subscribe and comment to let me know what was most helpful for you.

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