The Way of The Essentialist
Three truths, two questions, and one "Hell ya!"
The ideas in Essentialism by Greg McKeown have lingered in my head like a goodbye kiss since I first read it.
Although I’ve read the book in its entirety twice and replay its core messages in my head on a daily basis, I still stray from The Way of the Essentialist every day.
It’s a lopsided battle.
We live in a society that prioritizes speed and size and incentivizes more. We say “yes” more than we should and are fooled into thinking more is always better even though it rarely is.
When I succeed in living out the Essentialist motto — less, but better — my life is improved with near impunity and I regret all the times I sacrificed speed for quality while trying to do more, faster.
This article is devoted to The Way of The Essentialist. To help you and me root out and eliminate that which is not essential so we can double down on that which is.
Three Core Truths
In guiding your decisions, remember the three core truths of an Essentialist.
“I choose to.”
In life, there is no such thing as not choosing.
You are either choosing or failing to choose and, by doing so, allowing someone else — your partner, kid, friend, boss, customers, etc. — to choose for you. Allowing others to choose for you, especially for the big things in life, is a surefire path to regret and resentment.
Your choices, your responsibility.
And as the Suits character Harvey Specter said, “You always have a choice.”
“Only a few things really matter.”
Sometimes, everything feels important. It’s not.
If you’re having trouble identifying that which is important, I suggest prioritizing your health and relationships. Those are the only two things that really matter in the end.
For an analytical approach, perform an 80/20 analysis on paper to discern the important few from the trivial many by asking:
What are the few things that I must do to attain my desired outcome?
“I can do anything but not everything.”
Deceived into thinking everything matters, the next trap we fall into is thinking we can do it all.
We add to our lives endlessly without removing something else first. I’m notoriously bad at this, especially when it comes to exercise. To counteract our impulse to take on too much, I suggest experimenting with the following rule:
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