For years I’ve been focused on the power of “no,” trimming the fat in my schedule, cutting losses with unhealthy relationships and truly trying to focus on what is important, but I didn’t know how to sum up the practice into one simple word until I began reading ‘Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown.’
Essentialism is about getting only the right things done. It’s about challenging the core assumption of ‘we can have it all’ and ‘I have to do everything’ and replacing it with the pursuit of ‘the right thing, in the right way, at the right time’. It’s about regaining control of our own choices about where to spend our time and energies instead of giving others implicit permission to choose for us.
The first principle of Essentialism is figuring out what is essential: What are those few things that you really want to say yes to? This gives you clarity and the wisdom to start negotiating the non-essentials in your life. We start with the question of what is essential, which sounds obvious, but sometimes we are so used to saying “yes,” that it’s the idea of saying “no” that grabs people’s attention and alarms them, obscuring the key of Essentialism. It isn’t about simply saying no; the point is really to find out what is essential.
This involves trade-offs. Because as McKeown puts it, “If you pursue doing everything, perfectly, right now, that’s truly the undisciplined pursuit of more.”
We’re faced with trade-off’s all day long, and applying the essentialism lens is a great filter towards truly making the most out of your life. This doesn’t mean saying no to everything or most things, as I’m also a big advocate in the power of yes. Yes is where a lot of life and fun happens – spontaneity if you will. But who you say yes to and spend your time with or where and when – that’s the important choice. Those are the essentials.
Has anyone else read this and do you practice this?
p.s. if you’re interested, here is a great video with the author.