Self-Care Challenge (Day 315): Evaluating Essentials

Cover of Essentialism by Greg McKeown

Yesterday, I read Greg McKeown’s book Essentialism (Amazon Associate link), which was quite the timely read (and act of self-care) for me.

If you find that you’re constantly trying to please others, and are experiencing high levels of stress as a result, then perhaps you are also realizing that it’s time to give yourself permission to stop trying to do it all–or at least, stop trying to do it all alone.

Essentialism is about the pursuit of less.

Contrary to our culture’s expectations of always striving to do a little more, and then a little more, and then a little more, this book focuses on doing the most important things.

Instead of getting more things done, we are encouraged to concentrate our efforts on getting the right things done.

I can certainly relate to the author’s assertion that most of us have multiple priorities, which is impossible if you actually consider the definition of priority. We can’t have multiple “most important” things, which is why prioritization is so difficult. Most of us care about more than just one thing, and it can feel impossible to rank our priorities because it means we have to admit that some things are less important than others.

But McKeown rightly reminds us of Stephen R. Covey’s famous quote: “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.”

The truth is, having clear priorities makes life easier. We can say ‘no’ to the things that aren’t a priority, and ‘yes’ to what is. It helps us make choices when we’re faced with two options that seem to be at odds.

Although I didn’t expect the author to reference self-care, I was pleasantly surprised that he did. Sleep was underscored as a vital component of essentialism, and “protecting the asset” (the way a corporation does) was referenced in these terms: “The best asset we have for making a contribution to the world is ourselves.”

Yes! Yes! Yessssssssssss!

So now I shall ponder what I consider the most compelling question McKeown asks in this book: “What is the obstacle that, if removed, would make the majority of other obstacles disappear?”

What is essential in your life?

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