The power of Essentialism

Photo by Andy Beales on Unsplash

In the world overloaded with information and bombarded with news feeds from our social media account. Aren’t you drowning yet?

We are in this generation that everything seems so important that we slowly forget what really matters to us. We keep on running the treadmill not knowing when to stop, and as every time you tried to slow down, you felt like you are being left out.

I know this is common for everyone, that’s why I come across this idea of doing less but having more. We always have this sense of feeling that we have to do everything and we don’t have time, but the reality is contrary to this.

As I go through this, I come across the word “Priorities”,

I discovered that the plural term “Priorities” was only founded in 1900. This word came from the singular form “Priority”, which means the main thing or the very first thing. This was founded in 1400, but during the height of the industrial revolution the plural form for the “priorities” was made up to outline the multiple important task to the workers that they have to do each day.

It was just ironic that we have the word “priorities” but have to focus on which is really important to us. Which lead me to ask this question.

“Why everything seems so important to me?”

And that’s where Essentialism comes in.

WHAT IS ESSENTIALISM?

As I deep dive into this idea, I realized essentialism is an art of discerning the main thing from all the noises around you. This is stepping back from all the noises and discerning which one really matters to you.

In this world that everything seems so easy to find, read, and understand we often forgot how to filter all of this and just focus on what’s really important to us. We often forgot that all the things that we are doing are not really important to us.

Essentialism has three core truths that can significantly change your life:

  • From saying “I have to” to “I choose to”

The reality is most of the things doesn’t really matter and we are all gonna die in the end. Most of these things, doesn’t really matter at all when you are lying in your coffin. It will always be our responsibility to protect our finite time from other people as our time is only limited

At the end of the day, it will always be your decision if you will focus on the few things that really matters to you or those things that was set by other people for you. Essentialism is being responsible to all your decisions, to your time and to what you wanted to focus on. You can never let other people dictate what you have to do with your decisions.

  • From saying “it’s so important” to “only a few things really matter”

We have the most advanced technology of all generations and yet we felt like we haven’t done much of our tasks. The reason is that we set everything as important and forget what it truly means to ourselves. Essentialism is knowing what is the main thing for us. Eliminating other tasks means focus on what is meaningful for us.

  • And from saying “I can do everything” to “I can do anything but not everything”

The harsh truth is that we can’t just do everything and if you wanted to make a meaningful contribution, you have to be good at one thing. Knowing a little about something is okay but trying to master everything is impossible. Essentialism is about understanding that we can do better if we focus only on what really matters, that’s makes your life more meaningful.

As quoted from Forbes’ article The Art of Essentialism;

“Life is not an all you can eat buffet. It’s amazingly great food. Essentialism is about finding the right food. More and more are 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.”

HOW TO APPLY IT IN YOUR LIFE

As quoted from Tim Denning’s post in Medium,

“This life-changing moment comes from the realization that we are all going to die and after we’re gone there’s not much that really matters other than our family and our legacy. So, if nothing really matters, then why not do less so that you can spend time on what matters: your legacy.”

1. Say “No” more often

Learn to say “No” more often, you don’t have to feel like you are missing out something. Understand that you have to protect your time. You have to understand that saying “No” to other things mean you are saying “Yes” to your priorities. One way to do this is to say “Let me get back to you”, this phrase gives you time and removes you from impulsively saying “Yes”.

“You have to decide what your highest priorities are and have the courage—pleasantly, smilingly, unapologetically, to say “no” to other things. And the way you do that is by having a bigger “yes” burning inside” – Stephen Covey

(I guess like everyone this is really a difficult one for me. I often struggle on saying “No” but this also takes a lot of practice until we’ve manage to do it better. The more we say “No” the more we become better at one thing.)

2. Define your purpose

Not everyone is certain as to their purpose in their life that they often go everywhere without any exact plan. There’s nothing really bad about trying to discover your passion but what made essentialism critical to our life is if we start deciding based on what truly matters to us.

Defining our purpose gives us clarity in our life, this is also the reason why almost all of the big companies have their mission statement. This makes everyone in the company aware of why the business exists.

3. Make the main thing the main thing

Often time the problem is that we keep on making even the smallest thing as important. Essentialism is about focusing on what is the most important thing and focusing on it. We are often too busy with other things that we often neglect or forgot what truly matters to you.

Best example for this is, how many times have you heard about people chasing success and neglecting their relationships only to find out in the end that they traded success over what truly matters to them.

I am not saying that success is not important but what I am saying is that we have to keep on reminding ourselves what are the things that truly matters to us.

4. Step back and look at the bigger picture

“Wisdom is simply subtracting things from your life. It’s dead simple, profound and worth thinking about. What if having less, doing less, actually equal more? More of what you want that is.”

Knowing what is important does not happen in just one sitting, it often requires time for you to process your thoughts and see the bigger perspective. Learn to step back and decide on what aligns to your priorities and what you value the most. Never let your shortsightedness nor your emotions block you from seeing the bigger picture. Always step back and see what is essential for you.

Final Thoughts

To be honest, there is more to essentialism that this, but I hope I was able to give you a glimpse of what essentialism is. We must reconsider if all the things that we wanted really matters to us.

Explore and discover what are those things that is truly important to you.

Have your quiet time and think through this.

Remember that there is nothing better than knowing that you are doing something that significantly contributes to what you really wanted in the future and what truly matters to you.

The following are the articles and readings I got as I deep dive into this amazing idea:

  1. Essentialism for a Stress-free Life: 5 Book Takeaways
  2. Essentialism: A Complete Guide to Get You Started
  3. The 3 Steps Of Essentialism: How To Achieve More By Doing Less, According To Author Greg McKeown
  4. The Art Of Essentialism
  5. Why self-compassion matters?
  6. How to upgrade your mindset?

 

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