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YOU CAN’T DO IT ALL – THE ART OF ESSENTIALISM

Don’t you love it when someone takes all your brilliant, disorganized thoughts and puts them in together in a way that makes sense, so you can stop trying to explain it to people and tell them to just go get the book? I do!

I just recently read a book that resonated very deeply with me, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, by Greg McKeown.

While I could pick apart some little things about it that annoyed me, I won’t bother, because the core of the book is so RIGHT ON.

They are wise words for anyone who feels unfocused, burnt out, spread thin, overworked, scattered, unsuccessful, or like they say yes to too many things. 

In the Bay Area, we have this phrase, FOMO: Fear of Missing Out. It’s a bit of a disease, and it stems from this idea that if we don’t say yes to everything, we’ll be missing out on some amazing opportunity (and there are a lot of them here!). After the fun wears off, the symptoms of FOMO are described in the previous paragraph. Blah.

Essentialism is basically the opposite of FOMO.

I shall paraphrase some key points from the book:

  • When you try and do everything, you end up doing most of it poorly. Your energy gets dispersed, and things start feeling frantic, and your work (or life) projects don’t seem to get the traction you desire. Your work improves and you have more impact when it has a clear strategy, priority, and aligned purpose (aligned with what you want!).

 

  • The best way to be “productive” and efficient is simply to get uber-clear on what is MOST important to you/your business and focus on that, to the exclusion of other less important things (even if those are things are still technically “good” things to do).

 

  • Saying no gracefully is as important as saying yes. In fact, saying no gives you the opportunity to say YES to the important, meaningful stuff that you really want to do. Ultimately, people respect people who are honest about their capacity and say no upfront, rather than saying yes out of guilt or fear, stringing people along and then bailing, doing a so-so or crappy job at whatever you agreed to do, and/or completely stressing yourself out in the process.

McKeown gives example after example of business and spiritual leaders who are singular in their focus and incredibly successful, as well as a lot of specific strategies to Explore what’s important, Eliminatewhat’s not, and Execute what’s most important effortlessly.

The list of lessons is endless, but if you walk away with one thing:

You can actually live a happier, more productive, more fulfilling, more impactful life… 

DOING LESS. 

What’s essential in your life? What needs to go?