Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Doing Less

Summary

Is your life consumed by work? And more work? We live in a world where there’s so much to do, so we try to do it all. In Greg McKeown’s book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Doing Less, he explains how our society has become consumed by the undisciplined pursuit of more and the only way to overcome this problem is to change the way we think by adopting the Essentialism mindset of only doing the things that are essential.

THINK Review

Is this your life? Work. Work more. Having to say yes to everything. We live in a world where there’s so much to do, so we try to do it all. Or, as Greg McKeown, the author of Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Doing Less, explains: “There’s a word for trying to do everything all the time. Madness! I truly feel like it’s this perverse disease of thinking and it has an absolute monopoly right now. Do more. Do more. Get more. Fit in more. More more more.”

Before we change our behavior, we have to learn how we ended up in this place. Greg McKeown believes that the desire of our society to want more is based on an “unholy alliance between social media, smart phones, and consumerism. It’s not all bad, but certain forces that have come together are producing an unintended result for all of us. Our whole society has become consumed by the undisciplined pursuit of more. The only way to overcome this problem is to change the way we think – adopt the mindset of only doing the things that are essential – and do it now.”

Essentialism is a mindset – not a tactic or tip to do more

Essentialists are eager to explore new opportunities but are very selective when it comes to tasks they are willing to take on. They paid a heavy price before when they tried to do it all. They understand the tradeoff, are highly discerning and live by the philosophy that less means more and more equals mediocre. And, they live by these rules:

  • Live by the delayed yes: Make a decision based not on external pressure. Make it based on your internal sense of purpose.
  • Know the Joy of Missing Out (JOMO) vs. Fear of Missing Out (FOMO): Place value on making the decision to pass on another calendar-filling event and live the idea that missing out can spawn its own opportunities.
  • Be an anti-endowmentalist: The Endowment Effect is the idea that we value objects and also opportunities higher we own them versus if we don’t. The idea that you must own something to find value needs to be questioned.
  • Lose the popularity contest: Do not attend meetings that are not integral. You will lose short-term in popularity but gain long-term respect for real work, real contributions and real value.
  • Priority vs. priorities: “Essentialism is about the right food. More and more is valueless. Staying true to my purpose and being selective in what I take on results in a more meaningful, richer, and sweeter quality of life. “

Achieving what you really want

Not becoming an essentialist may detract from achieving what you really want. You might get a little piece of the pie but you’re too busy to focus on the rest of it. Because, in the end we are all limited by time. “There’s no wiggle room – just enough to complete the essential purposes in our life, so what are yours? What are you here to do? Essentialism will give you richer, sweeter results and put you in real control, giving greater precision to the pursuit of what truly matters.”

Buy the book at Amazon.com

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