We touched on Essentialism in our Recommended Reading article earlier this month, but we thought it was such an interesting perspective that it warranted its own article.
Essentialism, as a movement, is a direct response to the hecticness of modern life. The essentialist argues that too many of us have made the mistake of trying to do everything. The interconnected world that we now live in has made us all aware of the vast opportunities that are available to us. And we want to do it all.
The core tenet of essentialism is “less, but better.”
The key to being successful isn’t doing everything, but only doing the right things, and doing them properly.
Essentialism requires “systematic discipline.” An essentialist determines what their agenda is, and removes absolutely everything that does not contribute to that agenda.
As a result of this, they have strict criteria for deciding what they will spend their time on. There is no such thing as a ‘maybe’ to an essentialist. If it’s not an instantaneous ‘yes’, then it’s a ‘no’. Because if you need to hesitate about whether or not something is important, it probably isn’t.
This means that essentialists have to get used to saying ‘no’. If a project is not important to them, they cannot afford to spend time and effort on that project. And sometimes this means disappointing other people.
By only focusing on the most important elements of their career, the essentialist is free to spend time out-of-work working on the other important aspects of their life.
The essentialist doesn’t need to stay late to get their work done because they spent the entire day in meetings. They just didn’t go to those meetings unless they absolutely had to.
The essentialist can spend time with friends and family, or just have a relaxed evening watching TV without feeling guilty because they know they’ve made progress on their major goals that day.