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Essentialism 2.0

July 23, 2018

In 2014, after stumbling upon Essentialism by Greg McKeown, I was grabbed by definition of Essentialism - really it's the subtitle on the book: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less.  It has impacted me both professionally and personally, and I’ve re-read and re-visited it many times as I journey towards becoming an Essentialist.

Don’t Trade Time For Money

The reality is that 98 percent of the noise we hear and activities that we engage are truly non-essential.  These “non-essentials” constantly distract us and steal our time.  We’ve all heard the saying “time is money” but we believe that time is more valuable than money.  The path of the Essentialist provides many benefits, but maybe the most important aspect to me is taking back this precious commodity: TIME.

Essentialism vs. Minimalism

We’re often asked to compare Essentialism to Minimalism. They're easily confused. I think they take root from a similar perspective, but Minimalism is about owning less and Essentialism is about doing less.  Not just doing less so that you can say “I'm not busy”, but it's choosing to go big on the things that really matter: the essentials.

Think about this: You could get the tiny house and get rid of most everything you own and you'd be a minimalist.  Now I know that’s easier said than done, but in essence, it’s a means to an end.  By contrast, Essentialism, as the book says, is The Disciplined Pursuit of Less. Key word - PURSUIT. It's a continual, daily choice and something you will continue to grow in. It’s much like discipleship, not an instant an event, but a process.


We all get pulled in multiple directions. How do you decide which is the highest point of contribution and which task you should focus on. Lets start with the word priority.  It is very common to hear people talk about their priorities.  It’s actually very conflicting (dare I say impossible) to have multiple “first things” or priorities. The word priority actually came to the English language in the 1400s and it was singular all the way until the 1800s. We then pluralized the word right around the time the industrial revolution.

Make Space To Focus

Today, we applaud one’s ability to multi-task.  Truth is, you may be able to multi-task, but you cannot multi-focus.  We must tune out the noise to focus on the priority, our highest point of contribution  Don’t just react to the things in life that are the loudest, fighting hardest for your attention. Say "no" often and celebrate it. You’ll be protecting what is truly essential, and by saying "no" to something really really good, you’ll leave the opportunity to say "yes" to something really great.

Final Thoughts

The book early on mentions an Australian nurse who cared for people during the last few weeks of their lives. She would record their most often discussed regrets.  At the top of the list, those at the end of life have said "I wish I had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me."  When we're saying yes to things that aren't essential, we may be allowing others to rob us of the opportunity to focus on what is truly essential.

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