smart goals

Pareto principle (important/non-important)

Pareto Principle: Get rid of the less important, using the 80-20 rule!

Pareto Principle: Get rid of the less important, using the 80-20 rule!25601389Manolis Stratakis

The Pareto Principle (80-20 rule)

Vilfredo Pareto, an Italian economist realized that 80% of his country’s wealth was held by 20% of the Italian population. It didn’t take long for him to understand that this was true, not only for Italy but also for the rest of the world. On top of that, it was not only true regarding the distribution of wealth but it was valid in a much wider context. All that, led to the Pareto principle.

Let’s see this principle under the prism of personal development. We can say that 20% of our effort is responsible for about 80% of the desired outcome. The rest 80%, accounts only for the 20% of the outcome. The more we apply this principle in our everyday life, the more we realize that it is an invaluable tool for clarity and self-awareness. After all, it helps us distinguish between the vital few and the trivial many. In other words, between the few important and the many unimportant.

Pareto principle (important/non-important)

Some examples of the Pareto Principle

  • 20% of our clients bring 80% of our revenues
  • 20% of advertisement accounts for 80% of sales
  • We wear 20% of our clothes in the 80% of the time
  • From 20% of our friends we get 80% of support and satisfaction
  • In 20% of our home we spend 80% of our time
  • 20% of emails contain 80% of the important information
  • 20% of a meal contributes to the 80% of calories we take
  • Also the 20% of a dinner gives us the 80% of enjoyment (those eating their dinner indifferently, while eagerly waiting for the desert to arrive, are probably resonating with this example)
  • A 20% of illnesses is responsible for the 80% of deaths in the world
  • 20% of our experiences provides the 80% of our satisfaction
  • The 20% of a book contains 80% of most important knowledge and also 20% of the books we have read, contribute to 80% of our present education
  • 20% of the code running on a computer takes 80% of the CPU time

Of course, the ratio 20-80 is only approximate, it could be 30-70, 10-90 or anything similar. However the principle is valid in many different occasions. You can surely come up with your own examples from your personal experience.

What matters most, is the exact composition of the 20% and 80%. In other words, what falls under the 20% and what falls under the 80%.


  • Which part is the 20% of your Garde robe that you use 80% of the time?
  • From which 20% of your activities 20% you receive the 80% of your satisfaction?
  • In what do you spend 80% of your money which only contributes a 20% to your happiness?
  • Which 20% of your work brings the 80% of your results?
  • What 80% of the time you spend on the phone is not important?
  • Which 80% of your luggage contents is really necessary?

Pareto’s principle can be applied again and again in an iterative manner. After we have decluttered our wardrobe by throwing away or giving out the 1/5th of our clothes which we rarely use, we can then apply the same principle again achieving an even finer result. The same can happen with our clients, our diet, our appointments and generally the management of all our critical resources.

The Pareto Principle in time management

Applying Pareto’s principle in everyday life can free up a lot of time, which was – until recently – spent in not important activities. For each activity filling up your day, ask yourself how useful it is. Then, use Pareto analysis in order to identify whether they belong in the important 20% or in the unimportant 80%.

Do more by doing less!

Finally, think how much time and energy you would free up after you stopped worrying about the last 20% (the least important), i.e. all those activities which return almost zero results. By doing less you end up doing much more! The trick is knowing which part to get rid of.


See also our article “Eisenhower’s Matrix: An essential time management tool

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SMART goal setting

SMART goals: do you set Goals or exercise your Wishful Thinking?

SMART goals: do you set Goals or exercise your Wishful Thinking?25601784Manolis Stratakis

Set your goals SMART

Sometimes we believe we have placed goals in our life, while if they are not SMART, we are only doing some wishful thinking.

The SMART goal setting methodology can help ensure that our goals are actually… goals! It states that every goal, should have all the following characteristics:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound

Therefore, setting a SMART goal involves thorough thinking of each of the above five factors. This is done by identifying the key questions and finding the right answers. We need to be clear about what we want to achieve, by when and how we will know if we have succeeded.

SMART goal setting

Ask powerful questions

In order to pass successfully through the SMART filter, we will have to answer questions like the following:


  • What is the objective that needs to be accomplished?
  • Who are involved and who is responsible?
  • What intermediate steps need to be made?
  • Are there any prerequisites?


  • How much?
  • How many?
  • What % improvement do we expect?
  • In what quantitative ways shall we know that we have succeeded?


  • Is it attainable?
  • Is it realistic?
  • Are we aiming too high or too low?
  • In what qualitative ways shall we know that we have succeeded?


  • In what ways is the goal significant or meaningful?
  • Is it worthwhile?
  • How important is it?
  • Is it backed up by enough resources?
  • Are we motivated enough to pursue this goal?
  • Is the timing favorable?


  • Have we set a deadline?
  • Can we set any intermediate checkpoints to help us monitor our progress?

Why not set your goals SMARTER?

Our place in life changes daily, the same is true with our needs and wishes. Consequently, every so often it is good to evaluate and review our goals.

Therefore, our goals will be even more attainable if they become SMARTER:

  • Evaluated
  • Reviewed

SMARTER goal setting

Ask a few more powerful questions


  • What will need to be evaluated?
  • How shall we evaluate our progress?


  • What phases are suitable to perform a review?
  • How do we review our goal if we are over or under?

In conclusion, if you think you have set some goals without having applied the SMART filter, think again. Most probably they are not goals. They are simply wishes!


See also our article: Eisenhower’s Matrix: An essential time management tool


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life quality

Improve your Life Quality using the Cantril Ladder!

Improve your Life Quality using the Cantril Ladder!16141125Manolis Stratakis

Cantril Ladder: the Ladder of Life

A first step towards improving drastically your life quality

The quality of our life and therefore our happiness level, can actually be measured! One simple way to do this is the Cantril Ladder. It allows us to understand where we stand now and where we want to be in the future.

Remember that to make any change happen, we first need to realize clearly what we are changing. That is, what we have now and what we want to have in the future. In order to create anything new, we first need to imagine it.

A first awakening

Imagine a ladder with its steps numbered from zero at the bottom to 10 at the top. The top of the ladder represents the best possible life for you. The bottom of the ladder represents the worst possible life for you. On which step of the ladder do you feel you stand right now? Check the respective colored disk on the left column on the diagram (Present).

Cantril Ladder

It is important to understand that our life is dynamic, it is always changing. It may change faster or slower, but it is changing. The question is: which direction will it take next? Will it change to better or to worse? Here, our active commitment comes into play!

Believing in change is the first prerequisite to trigger the actual change. The second is setting up a goal. A right goal should be specific, meaningful and feasible.

So, let’s try to place a realistic life-changing goal for the near future.

On which step do you want to stand in, five years from now? (Please take into account how feasible your choice is). Check the respective colored disk on the right column on the diagram (In 5 years).

Congratulations! You have just made a good step towards realizing you present situation and set up a realistic goal for improving it. Just by placing your goal in the radar, you increase the odds for achieving it. Now, hold on to your seat while you are getting there!

In more detail

The characteristics for each group (as set by the Gallup Organization, with some modifications by us) are described below:

Thriving (7-10)

Strong, consistent, and progressing wellbeing

People in this zone have positive views of their present life situation and of the next five years. They report significantly fewer health problems and sick days. They feel less negative emotions like worry, stress, sadness, anger. At the same time, they feel more positive ones like happiness, enjoyment, interest, and self-respect.

Struggling (4-6)

Moderate or inconsistent wellbeing

Those who live in this zone, have moderate views of their present life situation. They also have moderate or negative views of their future. In other words, they are either struggling in the present, or expect to struggle in the future. Usually, they report more daily stress and worry about money than the “thriving” respondents, and more than double the amount of sick days. They are more likely to smoke and are less likely to eat healthy.

Suffering (1-3)

Wellbeing that is at high risk

People in the suffering zone, have poor ratings of their current life situation and negative views of the next five years. They are more likely to report lacking the basics of food and shelter. Additionally, they are more likely to feel physical pain, a lot of stress, worry, sadness, and anger. They have less access to health insurance and care, and more than double the disease burden, in comparison to the thriving category.

The above characteristics are useful just to give you a more clear idea of the three zones. They can help you see if you have made a good guess. Sharpening our awareness is critical in understanding where we stand and where we want to go!


Now, move on to see the areas of your life in more detail: Wheel of Life: The big picture of your life


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