Sweating the 80%

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I’m a big fan of Joe Rogan’s podcast for a number of reasons. Sure, he’s funny and inspiring, but I always find myself coming back because the guests that he invites on the show typically share some serious gold nuggets of truth that stay in my head for days at a time, ultimately changing my life in some way or another. That’s what lead me to believing that we should all sweat the 80%:

Jordan Peterson is a Canadian clinical psychologist, cultural critic and professor of psychology at the University of Toronto, and I heard him say something that made me stop what I was doing and listen intently for about 5 minutes. Then I hit the rewind button and listened again. And I think I even did it one more time as well. If you’d like to know what caught my attention then here’s the gist what was said:

“People have a tendency devalue what they have right in front of them.”

Let’s unpack that for a second. Think about the mundane things you do every day – brushing your teeth, saying hello/goodbye to your spouse each day, making the bed… These seemingly meaningless tasks actually make up a HUGE percentage of our lives when you really add up the hours. Here’s an example that Jordan shared with Joe, and although I don’t have children myself, I can still see the lesson that he’s trying to point out here.

Imagine a simple scenario that would repeat itself every day – a parent who has a hard time putting the kids to bed. A seemingly mundane task, right? Just picture it for a second: they’re fighting each other for 45 minutes each night, and perhaps if you have children yourself then you know what he’s talking about here. That 45 minutes per day adds up to roughly 5 hours per week, which is nearly 20 hours per month and 11 complete days per year. Both of you, on a consistent basis, end the day upset, which can lead to you spending less time with your wife, which leads to you blaming your kids for the frustration, it’s the school’s fault, it’s your wife’s fault for feeding them all of that sugar, it’s the TV and the video games and . . .

You can see how this cycle goes on and on whilst spinning out of control. But no big deal. It’s not actually harming anyone, right? Jordan suggests otherwise. Instead of allowing this mundane task to get out of control, Jordan suggests that we spend some real effort and time figuring out the BEST way to put the kids to bed. Get it down to a science. Knock it out of the park each time. The best way. Don’t just get the kids to bed; get them to bed the right way and make it peaceful rather than stressful. Perhaps read to them for 20 minutes instead? Listen to their worries and help them to calm down? Talk to them instead of yelling at them?

As shown above, the time adds up. It’s important to fix these types of scenarios and knock them out of the park each time you do them because you’ll be doing them for a very long time. You need to do the small things that you repeat every day in the most effective and efficient way possible, as they really do make up about 80% of your life. How you talk to each other at the dinner table, how you great each other when you walk in the door, doing the dishes or keeping the house clean; if you get the mundane things right and pristine then you really do have about 80% of your life put together. And then what happens when you have a terrible day, for whatever reason? You more than likely didn’t actually have a terrible day; only about 20% of your day was awful. You absolutely killed the other 80%. See where this is going here? Not only will you be more productive in thinking this way, but the end result truly leads to you living a much happier, more productive and fulfilling life.

So take this with you; the things right in front of us may seem little, but they most certainly are not. Set them right and you’ll see a fast rippling effect in every other aspect of your life. I know I’m going to give this a shot. Are you?

  1. Greetings Jayme
    In all honesty, the past several YouTube posts you’ve sent out, I’ve simply deleted without checking them out. I decided to take a look at this one for a change, and I’m glad I did as it truly resonated within me. The point that hit home on sweating the 80% was a saying I heard quit a few years ago now, and that is some of us can get so busy with our “stuff” that we can become human doings, not human beings. But back to how this post resonates with me.
    I’ve been married to my wife for just over 39 years. We have a common faith in Jesus Christ which has kept our bond strong and forgiving. Within the last ten years she has had two bouts with breast cancer, the last one resulting in a mastectomy of one of her breasts. Then in July of last year she had a hemorrhagic stroke which almost took her life. I’m grateful to say that these days she is back to 90-95 % of where she was pre-stroke.
    How your post resonated with me is that I have been her primary care giver here at home through all of these tough times. I have learned to be in the present, and embrace that role to the best of my ability. And I must say that it has been a tough go at times, because I can be a self-centered, hard headed rationalizer and justifier. I’ve had to practice what 1 Corinthians chapter 13 says daily – even when I don’t want to.
    The thing that seems to be the real point for me in all of this is that whatever God-given creativity I may possess is ameliorated by taking time and loving my wife through her difficulties. Basically my care-giving becomes sort of a sacrifice of praise, as the Word says.
    Please don’t get me wrong: this is not about me, but how God enables me to do the things I am able to do. Very much like He enables us to be good parents, good neighbors, good people in general. With my wife and me, the foundation stones of faith are interwoven through the core of our relationship. I guess that encompasses the 80%.
    Okay – I’ll get off my soapbox now.
    Thanks for the post. I’ll be ruminating on this one for a while.
    Cheers for now

    • That’s amazing Chris! I remember being there a few years ago when my wife was going through cancer. I dropped everything – I didn’t work for 6 months, I didn’t practice for 2 years, I didn’t write or do anything. No videos, no podcasts… Nothing. And I didn’t miss it, not one bit. When we got over all of that and realized we could move on, I had almost forgotten who I was before, or what I did. It’s funny how drastically the directions of our lives can change (and how quickly, too), but I’m grateful to have gone through it and made it to the other side. The biggest thing I truly learned during that time was that nothing is really as important as you think it is. “This report is due tomorrow!” Not really, it can wait if it needs to. “But what if I lose my job?” You’ll find another one. “What if we lose the house?” There’s plenty of other ones. “What if we lose everything?” As long as you’re still breathing, you didn’t lose everything. I think too often we place massive amounts of importance on things that actually aren’t – you can get ALL of those things back. You can’t always get your health or your loved ones back. Thanks for reminding me of that today Chris!

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