The 80/20 Rule for Families

The first week of the New Year always offers us a period of great promise. It’s like the afterglow of Christmas. As a child growing up, I was always in awe of Christmas. It wasn’t just the presents but more the mystical sense of God’s closeness or presence.

I can always remember when I was about ten years of age, a rough and tumble farmer talking about how he sensed the farm animals behaved differently (for the better) at Christmas time. It was a mysterious conversation to say the least, but it has stayed with me all these years.

From my memory, as a child this feeling of new opportunity mixed with love, hope and joy extended into the New Year period. I believe that whatever we feel about the Christmas/New Year holiday period, it is a time where we can take stock of ourselves and our future.

The beginning of the New Year is a time to recalibrate the compass and set goals and evaluate our life and if necessary set new directions. It is time to seek help from the ‘Bigfella’ as Tony Miller, the founder of Dads in Distress would say.

Over the years I have shared the ‘80 x 20 principle’ with our readers and the importance of ‘happiness islands’. I would like to share some of these thoughts again so that you can use them to recalibrate your compass and set the goals that you want in order to bring joy to both your heart and those of your family.

In his own words Richard Koch, author of numerous books on the ’80 X 20 Principle’  shares the following:

There is a scientific law, proven in business and economics, saying that the great majority of results come from a small minority of causes or effort.

You’ve probably heard of the law the pesky Pareto principle. It’s also called the 80/20 principle, because about 80 percent of results flow from 20 percent of causes. For example, we send 80 percent of our emails to 20 percent of the people in our address book, and we wear 20 percent of our clothes — our favourite outfits more than 80 percent of the time.

Police investigations reveal that 80 percent of accidents are down to 20 percent of drivers, and that 80 percent of crime is committed by 20 percent of criminals. In business, 80 percent of profits come from 20 percent of customers and 20 percent of products.

So what? Well, one day I had a sudden thought. Businesses have known for a long time that they can improve their position enormously by concentrating on the key 20 percent of activities. But why can’t people do the same? It turns out that we can. We can make our lives enormously better by doing less.

The secret is not to do less of everything, but to do less of the great majority of things we do that don’t work very well for us. And to do more of the very few things that do deliver what we want.

The answer is focus. In every area of our life, we can work out the few things that are really important to us, and the few methods that give us what we want. We can divide everything around us, and everything we do, into two piles. There is the big pile, the 80 percent pile, that takes a lot of energy but delivers pitiful results, sometimes even making things worse. That is the mass of trivia that surrounds us and normally engulfs our life.

We can call this big chunk of our lives the trivial many. Then, there is the small but vital 20 percent pile, which comprises the few things that work brilliantly. The vital few, that bring happiness to you.

Once we know what is in each pile the things we do, the thoughts we have, the people we meet, the techniques and methods we use we can do something terribly simple and wonderfully effective. That is to do much less of most things, the things in the big trivial pile. And more of the vital few things. Overall, we make much less effort, but we get much more reward.

The modern delusion is more with more. Nearly everyone thinks that to get more out of life, and succeed in what we want, we have to labor harder, devote more time to our work, and make sacrifices and trade-offs. I say No. In all aspects of life, we can find, to our astonishment and delight, that less is more. We can only live life fully by subtraction.

We make progress by stripping our activities and concerns back to a small authentic core. Success and relaxation, far from being enemies, are really twin cherries on a single stalk. Achievement and happiness flow from self-expression, from cutting out the parts of lives that we don’t like. If we have the courage to go against conventional wisdom, and live our lives differently, we can work less, worry less, succeed more, enjoy more, and make the people who matter in our lives hugely happier.


The above has massive implications if our goal is to make our children, our wives and even ourselves hugely happier. I call it the 80/20 Law for Families because, if you improve, your family does too. Use some of Richard’s ideas to help you recalibrate your compass. Use the first few weeks of the New Year as a time to renew your goals and let this season of renewal, hope and joy extend into the New Year. I encourage you to check out Richard Koch’s ‘Happiness Islands’ in our Special Feature before you put pen to paper.

Why not begin to put this into practice.

I can feel the renewal and love in my life already. I am sure you will too!

Yours for the New Year
Warwick Marsh


By |2019-01-16T06:29:32+10:00January 14th, 2019|Dads, Families|0 Comments

About the Author:

Warwick Marsh has been married to Alison Marsh since 1975; they have five children and nine grandchildren, and he and his wife live in Wollongong in NSW, Australia. He is a family and faith advocate, social reformer, musician, TV producer, writer and public speaker.

Warwick is a leader in the Men’s and Family Movement, and he is well-known in Australia for his advocacy for children, marriage, manhood, family, fatherhood and faith. Warwick is passionate to encourage men to be great fathers and to know the greatest Father of all. The Father in Whom “there is no shadow of turning.”

Leave A Comment