Today I want to consider the Pareto Principle, aka the 80/20 rule: the simple idea that 80% of outcomes come from 20% of causes. It is an idea used in business, economics, safety, mathematics and more, and something I want to borrow and talk about as a model in a general sense for responsibility and decision making.
Safety management offices regularly use this model to assess risk: assuming that 80% of accidents, for example, can be attributed to 20% of risk factors. We can turn this on it’s head and consider in terms of effort and productivity: what if 80% of our successes could largely be attributed to 20% of our efforts? What if there was a key 20% of things we would do that would snowball exponentially into an 80% gain in our lives?
Oftentimes I hear from the creative artists that sit on my couch themes such as high levels of time commitments, extreme standards levels of perfection in their work, constant negative comparisons of themselves with other artists and so on. Essentially, the creative drive is in overdrive and escalate to paralyzing levels, preventing artists from doing creative work. Unfortunately what has happened is innate energy to create has turned inward into disabling pressure: we feel like no matter what we do, how hard we work, how many events we attend, how much we commit to, we will never be enough.
I think you can see where I am going with this. Twenty percent of your efforts can be responsible for 80% of your outcomes. In other words, 20% effort can be sufficient, whereas 200% effort can be disabling. It is a matter of applying the effort in the most beneficial way for your mental and creative health.
What is true is taking care of your mental health is fundamentally important to the creative flow which ultimately sets you apart as an artist. This is an important part of your 20% and not nurturing and caring for self is a nonstarter for creative success. What is also true is by not creating you are also severing yourself from your mental wellness. I hope what you are beginning to see is a creative person’s 20% looks like a balance of quality self care and regular creative practice.
The specifics of what your 20% self care and regular creative practice looks like will be specific to you. This is the work that we do at Creatively! My job is to sit across from you in a room and listen to you describe your challenges and successes in your life to help you sort out this very path to success. When you have your 20% formula in practice, you will begin to experiment the magic of your 80% success and happiness. This is the “creating well” that I am always talking about at Creatively. Get that flourishing and watch yourself begin to live your happiest life!
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is a Creativity Coach, Creativity Counselor and Professional Artist in Sykesville, Maryland. She provides Online Creativity Counseling in Maryland and Virginia, and Online Creativity Coaching throughout the USA, Canada and the UK.
The information provided in this blog is from my own clinical experiences and training. It is intended to supplement your clinical care. Never make major life changes before consulting with your treatment team. If you are unsure of your safety or wellbeing, do not hesitate to get help immediately.