80/20 vision

The hammock from where I used to freelance in Costa Rica

The hammock from where I used to freelance in Costa Rica

As you know I love to share my recipes with you, and I usually blog about food that I have recently been eating. Since my last blog, however, I have been eating – or rather drinking and slurping – mostly green smoothies and green raw soups. I am not going to share those with you today as I have done so on a few occasions and I do rather believe there is more to life than smoothies and soups, even if they do make me feel satisfied, energetic, zingy and balanced.

I would like to share, however, a little of what I have been feeding my mind the past week or so. Christoffer has recently bought and devoured the book ‘The 4-hour work week’ by Timothy Ferriss. On his recommendation, I too gobbled it up as quickly as I could and found it most helpful and inspiring.

As the title suggests, the book provides helpful, and often humorous, tips and case studies of how to make your work days more efficient to advance towards the ultimate goal of working just four hours a week, but with at least the same – if not higher- relative income and preferably from remote locations, to enable you to travel the world (if you so wish), or do other fun things while still either working as an employee or as an entrepreneur.

What struck me while reading the book are the similarities between this approach to working-life and Life-Loving food. The initial similarity is the goal. For the 4-hour work week (4HWW) it is to free your self from spending most of your days having to earn money to have instead the time, energy and love to do things that bring you and others joy, such as traveling, learning languages or a new sport, helping others, spending time with your family, or spending your days doing what you are really passionate about e.g making music, art or gardening. To love life.

I have had the pleasure of briefly enjoying the life Ferriss describes while we were in Costa Rica. For a few weeks, Chris and I worked remotely/freelance. We spent a few hours a week working from the hammock in the above photo and the rest of the time learning Spanish, snorkeling, chilling, drinking from fresh coconuts, and planning our lives. I can certainly recommend this as a life-goal!

(If you want a great place to stay in Costa Rica, go to Cashew Hill Jungle Cottages in Puerto Viejo. This is where we stayed for 5 weeks, and had the best time thanks to great owners of this establishment.)

The goal of bringing more Life-Loving Food into your life – apart from the obvious fact that it tastes amazing – is to bring you health, energy and joy. If you spend less time (or preferably, no time) feeling tired, ill, depressed, moody, bloated and blurgh, then you will have time, energy and love to do the things that are actually fun, like the examples in the above paragraph.

Ferriss introduces/reminds us of Pareto’s law. Vilfredo Pareto (1843-1923), a ‘wily and controversial economist-cum-sociologist’, demonstrated the highly uneven distribution of wealth in society where 80% of the wealth and income was possessed by 20% of the population. This 80/20 principle, as it is also known, can be found almost everywhere and in business and even our lives the ratio of output to input is (roughly) 80/20.

Therefore, Ferriss encourages us to look at our businesses to see where the majority of the income comes from. Some may find, for example, that 80% of revenue comes from 20% of their customers. The remaining 80% of customers can be high maintenance and un-profitable and so Ferriss encourages us to spend as little time as possible on these customers, and to certainly not spend money and effort marketing towards them.

It would be interesting to analyse our lives and our health with the same principle in mind. What foods bring me the most energy? (And by this I dont mean calories. I mean energy left over after digestion that can be expended doing other things.) I believe our health (and indeed our lives) reflect not just what we do or eat but what we don’t do or eat.

For example when it comes to physical ill-health (a negative output), someone may find that they are mostly eating healthy food e.g 80% but if they are still filling up on steak and chips, bread (gluten), booze, coffee and dairy products for the remaining 20% they may find that 80% of their discomfort stems from the 20% of the unhealthy foods they are eating. The solution? To cut out those 20% of foods that you may feel you ‘need’ but which don’t actually serve you. It’s amazing that even though we feel that ‘it’s only one cup of coffee, or one bacon sandwich’ how much of an effect it can have on our health; even it is just for one day. I know myself, I have done the same. One cup of coffee out of a whole day’s intake of food and drink (5%) can make me feel 95 % crap! Which is I why I will never drink more than the very occasional sip of coffee.

Similarly we may find that 20% of the people we spend time with (family, friends, partners, customers, bosses or colleagues) bring us 80% of our joy and well-being, while the remaining 80% may be high maintenance people who don’t bring anything positive to your relationship. Surely it is better then to avoid those 80% life-suckers and invest our time and love in the life-enrichening 20% and have time left over for other pursuits!

Something else that struck me as similar is other people’s reactions to both goals. Many people are suspicious of both the 4HWW and Life-Loving (vegan/raw) Foods. ‘Surely if it were that simple everyone would do it!’ I have come across more than my fair share of skeptics who refuse to consider the link between diet and life style with ill health. And not just that, many don’t believe that we can feel fantastic in our body and minds if we give ourselves the chance.

And I myself have been victim to the conditioning that the only option in our work lives it to trudge away putting in all your waking hours in a job you don’t much care for, with retirement as the final goal to bring joy and free time.

Both Life-Loving Foods and the 4HWW are long-term investments in your life, but both can produce immediate results which is both encouraging and motivating. By adding healthy foods to your life and cutting out unhealthy ones (even in small amounts to begin with) will bring some immediate positive results. Likewise, if you go on one of Ferriss’ proposed email diets and ensure you only check your mail twice a day, for example, you will immediately free up both time and mental energy.

In addition, even if you don’t feel you can incorporate 100% Life-Loving Foods in your life, or structure your business or working life as an employee according to the 4HWW, you can still benefit by adopting just a few healthy foods or tips from Ferriss.

So today, I encourage you to look at your life and see what brings you 80% of productivity, good health, love joy and laughter. Focus your energy and time on these things and see if you can make a start to cut out the offending 80% dead weight.

I for one will be dissecting my life to see how I can make it more efficient so that I can do more pleasurable things like writing e-books, and developing other fun things to help others love their lives. Speaking of which my e-book ‘Loving Life – Loving Desserts’ will be available for sale in the next few weeks’ I am super excited and will let you know when I have a little preview for you! In the meantime, have a great weekend!

Check out ‘The 4-hour work week’ by Timothy Ferriss here >> and here:

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