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Using the Pareto Principle to Get More of What You Want Out of Life

A great way to get started on a better life takes nothing more than a piece of paper and a pen or a word processing program. Write at the top, “Ways to Improve” and start brainstorming. Consider every aspect of your life and don’t leave anything out. There are no wrong answers.

Your body and health, finances, relationships, house and home environment, and career are all fair game. Write down all the things that would make your life better, no matter how crazy they may seem. This isn’t the time to judge the value of an idea. Just record it and move on to the next one.

Give yourself the time you need. Work on your list off and on over several days if you need to. You’ll probably find that the first 5-10 come quickly, since these are the things you already know you should be doing, but aren’t. The others may take some time. While there’s no maximum, shoot for a minimum of 50. Often, the best ideas come later in the process.

Remember, you’re just brainstorming at this point. You would never want a to-do list that long, so follow these three steps to pare it down and get the absolute best results:

1. Pick the 10 best ideas on your list. Several items on your list will probably be unusable. That’s normal. Many others will be possible, but not as important to you.

• Focus on the things that would have the biggest impact on your life if you were to accomplish them. Take some time to really consider your options. Sometimes simple and easy changes can create significant effects. Get the ten best but be sure to save the rest of the list for another day.

2. Rank those ten. Rank them from easiest to accomplish to most difficult. You might as well start with the easier items and get some momentum before you tackle the big stuff. You’ll have more faith in your ability to accomplish things if you have some recent successes under your belt.

• Before you start, though, imagine getting them all done. How much would your life improve?

3. Begin with the first item. Implement the first idea and make your way down your list. Now, your list only has 10 items on it. If you’re not familiar with Pareto’s Principle, it basically states that 20% of the actions available to you will give you 80% of your results. So, accomplishing these 10 things is likely to have a huge impact on your life.

If you know that a specific area of your life really needs improvement, your list could be focused on just that topic. For example, you might want to make a list specific to getting healthy or becoming wealthy. After all, it’s your life and you can apply your focus as you choose.

If you need help choosing a specific area of your life, try this: Rate all aspects of your life on a 1-10 scale, with the areas that are most important to you at the top of the scale. Then, fill your list with ways you can make these most important areas more fulfilling. Set reasonable, but challenging, goals.

Focusing on the most important items is one of the fastest ways to make real progress in your life. No matter how well you’re doing, making this list is a worthwhile exercise. You can take control of your life each day by keeping your ideas for improvement in mind. Before you know it, you’ll have your best life ever!

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