Don’t “80/20” Your Dream

For true happiness, optimize daily to-dos but not your greatest pursuit

Niklas Göke
2 min readJul 1, 2020

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Photo by Ethan on Unsplash

If you use the 80/20 rule on everything, you’ll live an unsatisfying life.

Ironically, Vilfredo Pareto only discovered this seemingly universal principle — that 20% of the input usually account for 80% of the output — because he outright ignored it.

Pareto obsessively tracked the output of his vegetable garden. The man counted peas in spreadsheets — in 1896! He noticed a pattern in the distribution, which he applied to land ownership in Italy. When it held up, he became famous, and today, the principle named after him is everywhere.

Vilfredo Pareto put no less than 100% of his energy into a mundane, meaningless hobby and it led to a scientific breakthrough — his actual work.

Rather than “Settle for doing one fifth of the job,” the lesson here is this: If you don’t give your best somewhere, you’ll never get to the top of anything. Or the bottom, in Pareto’s case.

If you only do 20% of the work, you’ll only get 20% of the satisfaction, regardless of the outcome. Humans aren’t designed to half-ass every day. Some days, sure, but not every day. We max out at 100%, no less.

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Niklas Göke

I write for dreamers, doers, and unbroken optimists. Read my daily blog here: https://nik.art/