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do-more-by-doing-less

What if I told you that you could drastically improve your life by doing 80% less than you do right now? Statistically, 80% of your results are likely going to come from only 20% of your work. So why not just focus on the 20% right now and spend the rest of the day fishing? That’s a completely serious question.

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 as long as it takes. You’ll probably find that the first 5-10 action items come quickly (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 because the most useful ideas often come last.

Once you have a list of the “important things I need to do to get the best results out of life” completed and you have at least 50 things you feel you need to do to make your life better (think of it as a bucket list if you need to) you can begin to pare down this list. The first thing you’re going to do next is throw the list away. It’s useless.

Now take a piece of paper and write down the ten items from that list where, if you lost all other opportunities, those ten would put your life back on track to where you could be happiest. This is your new bucket list.

Next, rank these items in order of difficulty – which ones are the easiest for you to achieve in the shortest amount of time? Which ones require a bit more momentum to get going? Now take the easiest thing and do it this week.

Implement the first idea and make your way down your list. Now, your list only has 9 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.

Accomplishing these 10 things is likely to have a measurable impact on the quality 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.

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. Easy goals are never exciting.

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 And before you know it, you’ll be living your best life.

I am a doctoral student, certified behavior specialist and ordained minister from Houston.

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