Concentration on the most important – Essentialism
- What is better, to focus on one thing or to spread the efforts?
- The ups and downs of essentialism
Concentration on the most important – Essentialism
What is Essentialism?
After reading the book “Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less”, I want to share with you some of my thoughts on the topic: what is better: to be everywhere and do everything or to concentrate on what is most important?
Essentialism is a lifestyle that focuses on achieving one or two long-term goals (5-10) while spending all your time and energy to succeed. If you again realized, that after planning to run a marathon, finishing a sales plan, and becoming father of the year, you didn’t succeed at anything, quite possibly that this is THE way for you.
The Principles of Essentialism
Essentialism crosses out whatever Gleb Archangelskiy and Jana Frank tell us constantly about getting everything done in time. Your personal efficiency has a limit and you simply do not have time for everything. Many people abuse “double strategy” when you move simultaneously in many directions, do not progress a lot, but at the same time do not regress. We learnt this approach in schools for decades when teachers put on us a burden of learning many controversial subjects. We have to take part-time jobs while studying in universities because no single employer needs a guy without work experience. At the same time, studying doesn’t put enough pressure on us to concentrate on it solely. Essentialism teaches us to do everything the other way around. Essentialism is an approach when you first decide what your life goals are and then focus only on things that are vital for success.
The main principles are to:
1) Know how to refuse favors for anyone or reject a job offer that doesn’t go along the chosen path; 2) Always find time to sleep and rest in order to maintain your productivity; 3) Make time for contemplation and expressing creativity; 4) Neglect all the unnecessary conferences, e-mails, calls, interviews, and part-time jobs – everything that doesn’t relate to your personal goals IF YOU WON’T MAKE A CHOICE, SOMEONE WILL MAKE IT FOR YOU: YOUR FAMILY, YOUR SUBORDINATES, YOUR BUSINESS PARTNERS, AND COLLEAGUES
The Path of Essentialism
Sometimes we can’t leave the dead horse because we pity the investments we spent on it. I didn’t leave my university during my first year because I was sorry for the money and effort spent on getting into the university. As a result, I’ve spent 5 years and studied to get an education that provides knowledge easily obtainable through 4 months of practice. We do not get rid of clothes we never wear because we spent money on it. We hope that our employers who bully us around are going to acknowledge our merits because we worked for them for such a long time… Sometimes it is simply impossible to insert more in the to-do list, so we don’t do things that were always on our mind such as more sleeping, exercising, sports, spending more time with children. We do not do it because we do not have enough time for that.
The Path of Essentialism consists of:
Understanding what it is you really desire. Throw away everything that goes against it. Making a plan of how to prevent obstacles on your way to your goals. Doing everything qualitative with a motto: less but better. Choosing 1 most useful invitation out of 5 or refusing all of them in order to get 8 more additional hours of work
When Essentialism Does not Work
Essentialism doesn’t work when you are still searching yourself, that is when you still wonder what you want to do with your life. This is when the opposite strategy kicks in: to do everything, to widen your social circle, and to learn new knowledge. Even such strategy allows concentration: 1) never accept the jobs you didn’t like after the trial period; 2) do not take responsibilities that you do not want to fulfil; 3) Do not succumb to other people’s will; 4) Throw away the books you do not like and walk out of the cinema when the movie is boring.
Why are we Afraid of Essentialism?
The “double strategy” has a lot of fans and it is not accidental. We are afraid to invest heavily in something that can fail horribly. We are betting on multiple horses with a hope that at least one of them is going to make it to the finish line. That is why we have such a small prize in the end. In a world full of uncertainty, concentration can lead to a wrong bet. In order to overcome such fears, I came up with a couple of principles: Invest in scalable skills and avoid being overly specialized in terms of instruments, approaches, and a character. Invest in family and health. These are the resources staying with you forever. Always ask yourself if anything changed in your estimation of the life goals after a long period of concentration. Get interesting experiences. These are easily transformed into money.
Do not be afraid of mistakes and failures. As Mr. Phelps once said: “A man who never makes a mistake will never make anything”.
Be concentrated and you will succeed.