Greg McKeown knew he was meant to be a messenger, but it was not until 10 years later that he found out this message was essentialism. "Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less" is not about remembering another thing to do, but is the very work of life. If you set your sights on becoming an essentialist, it goes without being said that you will remove the inessential out of your life. What is key in this is that by removing what is inessential you are able to only focus your energy on what is truly important. By making this transition, you will be doing less, but achieving more. But, it takes dedication to become essentialist to transform your life.
“[Essentialism] hasn’t changed what I do but the way I do it. I feel things are more pulled together, ” said Michael Cwynar, Vice President of Customer Service at Mitchell International.
McKeown theory contains depth and a way for people to achieve their best version of themselves. We live in a society today where we idolize being busy and associate it with being successful, but essentialism defies that notion. It shows that by being selective with how and where you spend your energy can have more benefits than saying yes to everything. This will only spread your efforts thin rather than spend all your energy on what actually matters.
To start the path of an essentialist is to first find out what is essential in your life, and what is not. This process will create you to deeply think about what it is you truly want out of life and what you actually need to get there. This will remove the unnecessary from your life and to only put focus on the things that truly matter.
But, finding out what actually is and is not essential can be a tough process to discern. In his book, McKeown compares essentialism with cleaning out your closet. He says how it takes a conscious effort to keep your closet clean and organized. The same way that our closets get cluttered, our lives do too. When you are figuring out whether to get rid of something in your closet you ask yourself, Do I love this? or Do I wear it often? If you say no, you should most likely get rid of it. This is the same concept that essentialism is doing with your life, through the four step process of explore and evaluate, eliminate and execute.
Though, McKeown personally said, “I first wrote it (cleaning out your closet) as a metaphor, but then I told people to start here. Start with something that is in your control, like your closet.”
He explained that cleaning out your closet is a great way to start adapting essentialism into your life slowly. That building essentialism in your life is like building muscles. It is something that you constantly are building up so that you can then more easily make essentialist decisions. And starting with something small, such as cleaning out your closet or belongings, is a way to start the essentialist practice.
As you start to build the essential muscles stronger, you can control and tackle more. But, at the same time it does not get easier, it still takes effort, even when you become successful. If anything, major success can make essentialism more challenging to maintain. Success creates essentialist to be even more selective and to constantly refine. Because when you do become successful, there are more opportunities, which creates even more selectivity.
“You have to be more selective as you go up the ladder of success. It is like ‘lifting weights” and their essentialism muscles are stronger. You have to have courage, you are out of your comfort zone, but you move into the space and get stronger in that space,” said McKewon.
By going on this journey of essentialism, it puts people on the path to live a life of purpose. It brings people to what they truly value rather than being distracted by societal standards or rules, essentialism gives people the knowledge they need in order to live a life that is on their own terms. Through this book has brought the realization that through essentialism and staying true to yourself, you can live a life without regret. Essentialism is something; if you invest the time and energy into it then each person will live a life that is true to them.
Being an essentialist is about making the most of the one life you have to life and to make sure that during that time you are able to achieve what is meaningful to you. For anyone who pursues this type of lifestyle is sure to run into themselves, their values and their meaning. And through any crossroad, the only question you need to ask yourself is, What is essential? Then, eliminate everything else.
“If you are ready to look inside yourself for the answer to this question, then you are ready to commit to the way of the Essentialist,” said McKeown.