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If I Am Living a Good Life, Why Should I Bother Learning New Stuff?

If I Am Living a Good Life, Why Should I Bother Learning New Stuff?

A person might have a great job, a nice house, and a great group of friends. They might feel they have everything they need, and so, they just settle, stop moving and pushing themselves. After all, their life seems to be going fine. You might have seen this with friends or acquaintances.

This is fine for a time; but the problem is, while a person stops moving or stops pushing themselves, the world keeps spinning. Time moves forward. Staying in the same place and not seeking self-improvement has the exact same effect as moving backwards.

We are living in a period of technological and social advancement never before seen. Technology has moved and developed more over the past one hundred years, than it had in the previous thousand. With this speed of advancement, it is easy to fall behind. Even if a person’s life seems to be going well now, and they don’t seek improvement, several years down the line, they may find that their lack of advancement, the lack of development in important skills may cause big problems in their lives.

From Evolving to Settling

Human beings, homo sapiens have been on this planet for roughly one million years. At the beginning, humans had nothing to protect themselves in order to survive in the world.

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    So humans started to invent basic tools and formed basic languages in order to survive.

      After some time, humans were satisfied with the things they developed because that was enough for basic survival. They could simply stop learning and creating new stuff.

        It was okay to stop learning new stuff in order to survive until the 19th century, where the rate of technological advancement increased at a rapid pace. In just over sixty years, we went from the first flight by the Wright Brothers to men walking on the moon.

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        A few years later, with the widespread popularity of personal computers, the rate of human progress exploded. This is of course, an over simplification. But think about it, for the first time in history, not seeking self improvement, not moving forward with the rate of human progress, can be extremely dangerous. It’s perfectly possible for someone to fall behind the rate of technological and human progress.

        This isn’t just a vague possibility either. In the UK, it has been estimated that one in five is under threat of being automatized.[1] A person today who is comfortable in their job may find themselves replaced by a machine tomorrow. Many, many people might soon find themselves out of a job.

        Even outside of the job market, technology has changed our lives in countless ways. The average, most basic smartphone is a camera, a diary, a computer, a gaming device, a store, a library, a web browser, a clock, a telephone, a TV…and can be far more with extra apps.

        Not long at all ago, each of these things would have been a separate (and potentially very expensive) device, some would be impossible to carry around with you. It’s easy to take for granted. But imagine if you never got a smartphone and was happy with what you had before. You’d have missed out on a great deal of convenience.

        How to Stay Ahead

        Ultimately, no matter how hard you try, it’s impossible to predict how things will change over the next few years. We don’t know what skills will or won’t be needed. Nor do we know how our lives may change over the next few years. Something as simple as a new piece of technology can have an incredible impact on our lives (just think about the smartphone example from before). Because of this, you need to be ready to adapt and not fall into the trap of brief contentment.

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        Keep testing what you know

        We all know how important it is to learn new skills, but again, it is easy to become quickly content with what you have, and with it, stop seeking improvement.  This is illogical. If you stop trying to improve your skills, you’ll find that your skill level doesn’t stay on the same level, but instead decreases. In addition, the market for that skill is ever changing.

        It’s like when you test a tool or device you have, to examine its functionality. Is it wind-proof or water-proof? There is no point keeping a tool that can’t do its job after all.

          It can be useful to pick one of your skills or an area of your life, then critically evaluate it. Ask yourself, how useful is it going to remain? How is it going to adapt or change to changing circumstances?

          Lets relate this example to writing skill. The standards and styles expected of a writer are constantly changing. The internet has had a big impact on the way people read and interact with a piece of text. A writer today needs to be aware of this. Were a writer to stop paying attention to the changing marketplace, and the things expected of them, then they’ll be less useful as a writer.

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          Ditch the outdated and equip with the better

          After reviewing your skills and knowledge, you’ll be able to decide which should be ditched and which should be improved. It’s like throwing away old tools and devices that don’t work or are no longer useful, and replacing them with new, better ones.

            A careful evaluation of things in your life and your skills can be extremely useful. With it, you’ll be better able to see what might need changing or adapting, and what might be worth forgetting about.

            So although it is impossible to predict exactly how the world will change, with consideration of your skills and a desire to adapt, you’ll be able to find that you’re able to stay ahead of a changing world.

            I know it can be easy to become content, at the same time, pushing yourself and seeking change can be tough. But ultimately, this is something that can’t be sustained.

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            More by this author

            Brian Lee

            Chief of Product Management at Lifehack

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            Last Updated on September 24, 2020

            How to Take Advantage of the 80 20 Rule to Succeed in Life

            How to Take Advantage of the 80 20 Rule to Succeed in Life

            The world of productivity has several hacks or tricks to help you manage your time: to-do lists, the Pomodoro Technique, Parkinson’s Law… All of these strategies are great strategies in their own way, but one strategy stands above all the others: the 80 20 rule.

            This particular strategy has been used the most and is regarded as the most helpful in developing time management and other concepts in life.

            But what’s so special about this rule? How does it give you success and how do you use it? Let’s explore the specifics.

            What Is the 80 20 Rule?

            Many people regard this rule as the 80 20 rule, but it has a proper name: the Pareto Principle[1]. The principle was named after its founder,  the Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, in 1895. Pareto noticed that people in society were divided into two categories:

            • The “vital few,” which consisted of the top 20 percent with respect to money and influence.
            • The “trivial many,” otherwise known as the bottom 80 percent.

            As he researched this further, he came to discover that this divide didn’t apply only to money and influence, but other areas, too. Virtually all economic activity was subject to his previous observation.

            He observed that 80% of Italy’s wealth at the time was controlled by only 20% of the population.

            Since the development of this rule, humankind has used this particular ratio in all kinds of situations. Even if the ratio isn’t always exact, we see this rule applied in many industries and in life. Examples are:

            • 20% of sales reps will generate 80% of your total sales.
            • 20% of customers account for 80% of total profits.
            • 80% of the revenue will stem from 20% of the workers.

            Either way, I’m sure you can piece together why people call this rule the 80 20 rule over Pareto’s Principle[2].

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            Make Your Life and Your Business More Efficient with the 80-20 Rule - Salesforce Canada Blog

              In terms of how this particular rule will be able to work for you, it’s a matter of applying this rule to how you spend your time. For us to see success, the goal is simple.

              We need to set it up in such a way that 20% of our input is responsible for 80% of our results.

              Another way to think about it is we use 20% of our time on activities that give us 80% of our results in a given area of life.

              How Does the 80 20 Rule Work?

              To best explain this, let’s visualize a bit.

              In an ideal world:

              • Every employee would contribute the same amount of effort to work.
              • Every feature that’s released for an app or product would be equally loved by users.
              • Each business idea you come up with would be a hit.

              In that scenario, planning would be a breeze. There wouldn’t be any need to analyze anything so long as you put in the effort.

              But that’s not reality.

              Yes, the effort is certainly an element, but what the 80 20 principle states is that everything is unequal. Invest in 10 start-up companies, and you’ll find only a few will pass year two and make it big. You’re in a team of five, and there’ll be one person doing more work than others.

              We wish our lives were always one-for-one in terms of input and output, but that’s simply not true. Understanding this is key to understanding how the 80 20 rule really works.

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              So how does it really work?

              It’s a matter of focusing on what’s giving you the most in your life for little of your time.

              Going back to the few examples I’ve presented above, consider this:

              • If two start-ups you invested in are making it big, focus on having a more direct hand, and see if you can help them prosper more.
              • If 20% of sales reps are giving you 80% of your sales, focus on rewarding those and keeping their spirits high and motivated.

              These scenarios can go on and on, but the idea is to place your efforts on the 20% that is actually making the difference in your life. Another term that’s good to know is the diminishing marginal utility[3].

              Pareto didn’t come up with this one, but the law goes as follows: each extra hour of effort or worker will add less “oomph” to your finished results.

              Eventually, you’ll hit a point where you will spend a lot of time on small and unimportant details, similar to perfectionism.

              So before hitting that point, you want to have a laser focus on the most important details, from family and relationships to your work or business. Prioritize the activities that are going to move you forward the most, and be wary of adding extra time, effort, or more hands into those particular tasks moving forward.

              How to Take Advantage of the 80 20 Rule

              So now that you have an understanding of the 80 20 rule and how it works, what is the best way to take advantage of it?

              Depending on where you are applying this rule, this can be used in all kinds of fashions.

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              For example, you can apply this rule to goal setting, as demonstrated by Brian Tracy in this video:

              Or you can apply it in terms of general productivity as explained in this article: What Is the 80 20 Rule (And How to Use It to Boost Productivity)

              The core of this rule is that it forces us to ask ourselves the questions we wouldn’t consider otherwise. It helps us to place our focus in the right places with regards to all things in life.

              In short, the 80 20 rule places us in charge of our lives and helps us set out on our goals and dreams. With this in mind, here are some things you can consider concerning this rule.

              1. Focus on Your Big Tasks First

              While this is the essence of the 80 20 rule, it’s still worth mentioning. Why? Because so many of us feel intimidated by the biggest task. We instinctively avoid it and opt for smaller tasks first.

              We think that if we complete enough small tasks that we will feel motivated to finish that really big one later. But that’s really false hope at work.

              Once we finish off a lot of small tasks, we either feel drained, or we tell ourselves we’ll do this the next day.

              Instead of doing all that, bite the bullet and tackle the largest task first.

              If you need help with prioritization, check out this article.

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              I argue this by challenging you to ask yourself this one question:

              “Is the task I’m about to do the top 20 percent of my activities or the bottom 80 percent?”

              I’m sure you’ve seen time and again you or other workers spending a lot of time on one task for most of the day. In those kinds of grinds, you’re barely getting ahead and have next to nothing to show for it. That’s because they’re putting all their attention on work that’s in the 80 percent.

              It’s normally the big tasks that are part of the 20 percent.

              Another way to think about this is that everything we do starts a habit. If every day we spend our energy on low-value tasks, we will always prioritize those.

              2. Stretch This Into Personal Life

              While I’ve been talking about business and setting goals, remember you can use this in other areas of your life, too.

              Take your personal life and ask yourself some of these questions:

              • How much TV do you watch on a regular basis? What sort of shows are you legitimately into? These questions can help you in recognizing what shows you are watching purely for consumption. By applying the 80 20 rule, you can cut back on Netflix, TV, or YouTube video consumption and prioritize other areas of your life.
              • What does your wardrobe look like in terms of colors? Are there specific colors that you like? Knowing what you wear most times will help you in sorting out your wardrobe significantly. It also saves you time to come up with what to wear every morning.
              • How many newsletters do you actually read? This question can help you in figuring out which newsletters to unsubscribe to and can clear up a lot of space in your inbox. It can also relieve pressure from having to check your emails constantly.
              • How much time do you spend on your phone every day? How much of that time is actually doing something meaningful? These questions can help you in clearing out various apps that aren’t helping you with your goals. In fact, this can curb the need to check your phone constantly.

              Final Thoughts

              The 80 20 rule is the productivity hack that many of us need, and for good reason. As you can tell, it’ll help you to focus and prioritize the more important aspects of your life.

              Not only that, but it’ll maximize those outputs at the same time and ensure you’re not spending too much time working on them. All you need to do is start asking questions and taking action.

              More Techniques to Help You Succeed in Life

              Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

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