The Freedom Formula

By: Sarah Stokes

September 03, 2019

Are you ready to scale or grow in your career and life?

There’s a simple formula that seems to be the secret to success. But I’ll admit, after five years of practice, our company and myself are still a long way from mastery. Why? Because, humans.

After all, we have to factor in the default way our brains are wired and the people pleasing sides of ourselves. Because what I’m about to explain might feel “scary” to the achiever in you. I hope not. I hope you’ve evolved beyond wanting to do it all. I literally coach myself on this daily but am still a student of this concept.

What is it?

We call it 80/20.

The 80/20 or Pareto Principle shows that in life/work/everything, 80% of the effects come from 20% of the effort.

 For example, 80% of sales come from 20% of clients, 80% of headaches come from 20% of people, and the list goes on.

This is so true in our careers and lives.

80% of results likely come from 20% of what we’re doing. It’s why we call it the “Top 20” in our companies. When we are constantly in our bottom 80% of activities, that’s when we feel the full ripple of what we deem the “hamster wheel.” It’s a nasty place to be, and we can be on the road to burnout.

So what do we do about it when we need to (do we really?) or expect 100% of the activities will get done?

We still have to start with the top 20%.

Often the top 20% of activities that move the needle on our goals can be the tasks that we may build up as “hard” in our heads. The social media ads, the new video, or the ten-minute accountability talk we don’t want to have can all get put in that procrastination pile and then…

…it’s like a ticking time bomb of sorts.

You’re starting a small shame spiral in your head, yet because of the perceived “pain” of doing that top 20% thing, you fill your days with the bottom 80% to feel like you’re productive.

This was my subconscious story. Knowing the 80/20 principle is true (I’ve seen it in our companies time and time again), I know in my heart that if I could just do that thing first, it would make an impact. Yet, despite knowing what to do, we don’t do it. Sometimes days go by and it’s still on the to-do list.


Because human nature operates on two basic premises (Tony Robbins speaks to this beautifully in many of his trainings):

Will this cause me pain or create pleasure?

That’s it.

Two perceived feelings.

We run entire lifetimes chasing the easy button. As an achiever culture, it often feels more like pleasure to check off five things instead of that important one thing.

Yet, that important one thing will prevent pain in the end.

Back to the 80/20 principle.

What would it be like if this week you started with only Top 20?

What are the two things out of ten that would make the biggest difference for you? Start there. Dig in. Feel the awesomeness of knowing if you get the most important two things done first, you would be better off than if you did the other eight.

I know this all too well. I continue to live it. It’s why we continue to talk about the 80/20 principle in our businesses. It’s like working out. If we don’t use and push the muscle, it doesn’t get stronger.

If you need help determining your Top 20, look at analytics, look at where the customers are showing you they want more. Follow the signs of life on your social media. What lights it up? Those are your clues.

Cheers to the Top 20. It really is a formula for freedom.