We expect to reach a defining moment in our lives – where all of our hard work is rewarded at this magnificent apex. A moment where we will be filled with a sense of having arrived. It is from this vantage point that the chase towards material wealth lies. A belief that the next thing is the milestone we should be striving towards.
Some companies would like us to believe that products alone, not human ingenuity, solve problems. Between this black and white worldview lies a gray patch – it is here that both products and human ingenuity coincide. Where products are no longer just mere things but instead tools – extensions of the human mind.
These are the tools that allow us to get more done with less effort. We can apply the same logic to our lives when it comes to what we do and how we do it.
The Pareto Principle
The Pareto Principle is the concept that 80% of effects come from 20% of the causes. That 20% of an exercise regimen yields 80% of the results – or 80% of revenue comes from 20% of a product line. We can apply this principle to our lives in a variety of ways: reading one book that contains the wisdom of five, or buying products with multiple capabilities instead of dozens of single-use ones.
When applied correctly it can reduce the amount of time that is wasted on unnecessary tasks; tasks that aren’t the most efficient means of reaching a desired outcome. As a result, more time is freed up – allowing for us to focus on what is essential.
In his book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, Greg McKeown highlights the importance of bringing our attention to the most essential tasks in our day to day lives. That we need to separate the “vital few from the trivial many.” He goes on to point out that “If you don’t prioritize your life, someone else will.”
Because in a world with too many choices we are overwhelmed, not sure what to do, and we’re waiting for someone to tell us – leading us to make choices that are impulsive and result in regret.
To avoid this we must take inventory of what our needs are. Only when we have done this can we hope to reclaim control of our decision-making. In the case of work or home related tasks: start with what’s of highest priority – then continue onto the less immediate ones.
The products we buy are an exchange of life hours – keep this in mind next time you are out shopping. Hours of our lives are traded for a medium of exchange (i.e. money) – we then use this medium to purchase goods and services. When you look at money in this way, it should push you to select purchases more mindfully. What you buy should be a reflection of what your time is worth – a moment to be completely honest with yourself.
The objective isn’t to avoid buying anything at all. But to dramatically reduce the amount that we buy to the bare essentials of what we need and want.
Instead of buying dozens of records that we “kind of” like – we opt for the few we like the most. When we go to the store to buy a new plate to replace a broken one, we don’t allow ourselves to be blindsided into buying a whole new dish set. We start making purchases based on certainty – not gullibility.
The relationship between customer and producer appears so harmonious that few of us stop to give it much thought. Why bother? The producer gets the money, I get the goodies – win-win. Fair enough. But what about those times when the purchase you made was not a part of your plan? When the window of time between noticing a product, to the transaction was so small that you were full of regret the moment you gave yourself a chance to think it over?
When you feel the pull – when you are overwhelmed with that rush of sweet, sweet dopamine – stop. You’re being snared by those whose aim is to get you to act outside of your better judgment – opt out, understand the why.
Copyright © 2017 Sky Patterson
Have something you’d like to add? Please leave a comment below – I’d love to hear from you!