Essentialism – Like You, But Better

Had lunch with a buddy a while back, and like most conversations on January 2nd go, we got to talking about our New Year’s resolutions. I proceeded to tell him of some of my musings on work / life balance, time management, and the biggest one, intentionality.

He offered me only this, “Have you read Essentialism? It’ll change your life”.

Well, here we are, end of April and I just finished up Essentialism (he would throw some shade at me over this, dude reads like 100 books a year, I’m going on two and two halves).

This book hits home. It formalizes so many concepts I’ve been toying with for the last couple of years, but even more so over the last few months. If you haven’t kept up, check out You’re time on the chopping block and Happy New Week.

To quickly summarize, a few years ago, my wife and I were living in a town and house that we weren’t really getting much out of, but we felt silly selling the house and moving, because we didn’t really have any reason to, so we just stayed put. Kind of like a romantic relationship that you’ve put a lot of time into, but has lost it’s snap… you probably should have cut your losses a long time ago, “It’s for the best”.

I finally had a flash of clarity and just told my wife, “We’re selling this house, we’re moving out of this town, and we’re getting rid of anything that isn’t bringing us joy”. Now, keep in mind, I’ve always been a bit of a minimalist and a utilitarian, but it was at that exact moment that I turned a page, and started down a path to what I have now come to know as “Essentialism”.

Fast-forward eighteen months to December 31st, 2016, New Year’s Eve and you’ll find me on my patio, armed with a pen, paper, and a mint julep, exercising my brain on my resolutions to becoming a better human. More efficient. More caring and thoughtful. More intentional at work and at home. More purposeful.

That day, I set myself up on a recurring schedule of self-inflection. I decided to start tracking pretty much everything I put my time and effort into, with the promise I’d review myself, to make sure I was progressing.

Essentialism is about learning to stop doing, just for the sake of doing, but instead taking time to decide what’s actually worth doing, and doing just that.

I’m SO guilty of this, in fact, I don’t know many people who aren’t. When I had the house from the story above, I had a garage FILLED with tools. I worked on my Bronco, I had a few woodworking projects, fixed everything in my house myself, took care of my own lawn, built a mantle for our fireplace, painted our whole house, and on and on. I lived under the ruse of having enough time to do all these things, I’d just prioritize what needed to be done immediately and chip away, bit my bit, at all the other projects I had going on. What actually happened was more like me guilting myself for not making progress on one of the many projects I had going (usually because I ended up doing something I actually wanted to do).

This has gone on for years, and I’m sure it has for you too, but there’s a better way…

To coin a friend, check out Essentialism, “It’ll change your life”.