Apply Pareto’s Law to Your Diabetes Management


Things which matter most should never be at the mercy of things which matter least.


There are things we all do for our health and things we undeniably don’t do for our health-that we know we should.  Many of us are aware of a number of things we should do and in order to compromise with ourselves, we pick and choose a few things to focus on instead of do them all.

But don’t you want the most bang for your buck?  What I mean is, don’t you want the efforts you make, to provide the greatest positive impact on your health possible?  Sure you do!  I know I do!

This is where Pareto’s Law or the 80/20 rule comes in to possibly help.  Here is a little bit of history.  Vilfredo Pareto was an Italian economist.  In 1906 he noticed that 20% of the pea pods in his garden gave him 80% of the peas.  He applied this observation to many other places.  For example, he found that 20% of people in Italy owned 80% of the land/wealth.  Even today, it has been observed that (according to Wiki) “In health care in the United States, it has been found that 20% of patients use 80% of health care resources”.  (I wonder if a good chunk of those 20% are diabetics and I wonder if the government placed more importance on helping us diabetics manage our health better, would we all save and benefit? Hmmm…)

So what if 20% of your actions created 80% of your overall state of health?  Are you doing the right 20%?

For example, you could drink plenty of water, exercise, eat healthy, and control stress, but if your blood sugars are always high, you’ll be dehydrated, unable to get much out of exercise, have difficulty controlling stress, and your healthy eating won’t save you.  That is because managing blood sugars is very key to your overall health.  In fact, it’s crucial. 

Let’s say we have five goals right now. (For the purpose of this example)

1.  To make more money

2.  To spend more quality time with friends/family

3.  To exercise more

4.  To improve blood sugar management

5.  To lose weight

A lot of people have these goals.  They are relatively common.  Realistically though, if we try to tackle all five of these goals at once, we’ll quickly either become overwhelmed or unmotivated. 

How about we just focus on blood sugar management.  Years ago, these were my five goals at some point.  And after ongoing failure to achieve any of the five goals I decided to tackle the biggest one-blood sugar management. 

To my surprise, I started losing weight, which helped me exercise more.  My mood, focus, and energy levels improved and I became more productive at work.  Eventually I started making more money. 

I just needed to take care of that which yielded the highest results.  And since I only had one goal-blood sugar management, all of my focus and energy went full blast, enabling me to succeed.  Not to mention, having great blood sugars impacts all areas of one’s life.

I could have focused instead on trying to make more money or losing weight, but, with blood sugars still out of whack, I might have never really become more productive at work or lost any weight. 

We don’t have to necessarily think about 80/20.  In some cases it’s 90/10 or 60/40.  The point is however, to place your focus and energy on that which will yield the greatest impact. 

Pareto’s law is mostly used in business.  Remember, Pareto’s law means that 80% of consequences or results come from 20% of causes.  Business students are taught (or should be taught) that 20% of customers provide 80% of sales.  And 20% of customers also provide 80% of business complaints and hassles.

From the above last two sentences, which 20% of customers would you focus on?  And that’s the point.  There are only a few things which are really important.  If you spend your time and energy on those few things, you’ll profit, in business and in life.

So back to our diabetes…let’s say we want to break down things we need to do in order to improve our blood sugars.  Make a list of 10 things you know you need to do better in order to improve blood sugars.  Put a percentage next to each.  The higher the percentage, the more positive impact on your blood sugars you foresee that one item providing you.  For example, I’d personally rate “testing blood sugar more frequently” as a much higher percentage than I would “eating healthier”.  This is because if I don’t test, eating healthy may still mean I’ve got unmanaged blood sugars since without testing I don’t even know where they are.  Get my drift?

Anyway, when you’re done with your percentage values, take a step back and pick out the one or two highest percentages.  Those are the one or two things you need to focus on.  Those one or two things will greatly impact your blood sugar management.  Once you’ve got that down as a habit, you can move on to tweaking your blood sugar management by addressing the other items on your list which hold lower percentage values.

Few things really matter…the rest, not so much.  I know we can think of all sorts of ways to apply this.

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