Pace and I have made several trips to Dallas recently. On one of them, we listened to a podcast wherein Alex Shalman interviews Steve Pavlina. Steve is one of the biggest influences in our lives right now, so we’re always interested in what he says.
During the interview, Steve offers this as a valuable tool for growth: connect with what we do want and disconnect from what we don’t want.
This is important. Disconnecting from what we don’t want is a major part of self-work – one that often gets overlooked. We spend a lot of time and effort focusing on what we do want, connecting with it, and bringing it to us. But if we don’t spend time and effort getting rid of what we don’t want, we’re unbalanced.
In The 4-Hour Work Week, Tim Ferriss talks about the 80/20 rule: 80% of your stress comes from 20% of your life. This is amazingly true! I’ve found that 80% of my stress came from 20% of my work, 80% of my fears came from 20% of my experiences, 80% of my unhappiness was coming from 20% of the relationships in my life (and vice versa – 80% of my happiness comes from 20% of my relationships), and so on. So, what do you do with this?
You 80/20 your life. Find those 20% things – the highest stressors, the most frustrating clients, the friends with the highest drama factors – and see if you can do without them. With friends, it’s good to see if you can improve things first, but if that fails, what is it bringing you? Would you be better off without those friendships? Odds are, if they’re causing you all that stress and bringing you little happiness, yes. You would be better off, even if it’s difficult and painful to end things.
We tend toward sticking with relationships, especially friendships, even after they grow toxic or unimportant to us. I’ve become something of an 80/20 juggernaut, and I’ve found that cutting out those relationships opens me up for healthier, happier, more equal relationships. But if I keep those toxic ones, I’m full up and can’t make room for more.
This works for material objects, too. It’s not just about relationships, business or personal. Look around your living space – what there is bringing you joy and what’s bringing you stress? Do you have too many pens? Too many cats? Too much clutter? Is your kitchen full of useless pots and pans and spoons, leaving you no room for the blender you really want? Is that fish tank still making you feel peaceful, or do you get tense every time you have to clean it? If you 80/20 your stuff, you have lots of room for new stuff – or no stuff, which is awesome in a different way. (You can also make a little money if you sell the old stuff!)
Disconnecting from what you don’t want is just as important as connecting to what you do want. In fact, every time you disconnect from something negative, you make room for something positive. You create a little space in your life where you can put something that brings you joy, that makes you happy, that in some way furthers your connection to those things you do want. It’s empowering and a critical part of the path of self-growth and happiness in life.