Monday, June 9, 2014

Aspiring to Essentialism #1


How to describe the state of desperation that led me to Greg McKeown's book, Essentialism, The Disciplined Pursuit of Less?

From the outside, I look like a hyper-organized, hyper-busy person who gets a lot done.  But inside I feel a continuous and near overwhelming pair of feelings: 
  • fear of failure -- I can't accomplish what truly matters because there isn't enough time.
  • self doubt -- I've chosen the wrong thing to work on and invested myself in what didn't matter.
Through a near obsession with self help books to manage time and improve productivity, I've mastered many useful techniques and explored many good ideas, but those two feelings never abated. For years, I have expressed the desire to "focus on the few things that mattered" but always find myself spread too thin, pursuing too many options, and feeling afraid and doubtful as I tried to cram ever more into my day.

I picked up McKeown's Essentialism seeking insights to identify and change the habits that kept me overworked, overwhelmed and under-satisfied. I hoped for techniques to apply to that oft expressed and never realized goal: to build a satisfying life focused on the few things that truly mattered.

Having finished the book, I have this to say about it:
  • McKeown's distinction of "Essentialist" vs. "Non-essentialist" spoke to me profoundly.
  • My personal evolution led me to habits directly opposed to finding "the few things that mattered."
  • McKeown's structure for defining, embracing and maintaining Essentialism looks workable.
  • I will have to change a little bit about everything I do.
  • Weighing in at 275 pages, the book wasn't long enough.

This Aspiring to Essentialism blog series is my personal attempt to address those last two points.  I need daily practice at picking up the one most important obstacle and working to remove it.  The book has various stories that are helpful to understanding, but I feel the need for more.  So with the short term goal of, "Experiment with McKeown's directive to write in a journal daily" and the long term goal of "Live the life of the few things that matter", I hope to write stories here.

Perhaps others will find them useful.

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