Essentialism: ‘Can’ does not equal a ‘Should’
The word priority came into the English language in the 1400’s…
It was singular. It meant the very first or prior thing. It stayed singular for the next five hundred years. Only in the 1900’s did we pluralise the term and start talking about priorities. Illogically, we reasoned that by changing the word we could bend reality. Somehow we would now be able to have multiple “first” things.
I’ve been focusing a lot on the whole ‘what’s important, what’s essential, what’s not?’ self-chat lately, but more so when it comes to work. Being an entrepreneur, running my own business (businesses) and brand for over a decade now means never having a set finish/switch off work time. I essentially get to decide and create my days, my week, my hours. I’ve essentially not had a holiday where I could completely walk away from the job since 2009.
Now, this is in NO WAY me having some sort of pity party for myself! Working for myself comes with LOTS of perks, for sure. I have been able to up and go without needing permission or holiday approval times and also be inspired by my travels as I work, and keep my business running. But it also comes with its challenges. It means never being able to completely switch off, always being reachable, carving out ‘work time’ while being in some of the most amazing places and locations in the world and ultimately, sacrificing some holiday time for work time.
The good news? I’ve gotten better at it over the past couple of years. Not just because my travel died down a lot in 2019 before being forced to a halt in 2020, but by getting better at letting go of control, prioritising and working out what’s essential, and what’s not.
**Essentialism: only once you give yourself permission to stop trying to do it all, to stop saying yes to everyone, can you make your highest contribution towards the things that really matter….
This recent trip to Alice Springs for the past week has probably seen me do the least amount of work on the daily, while being the busiest I’ve been all year in all aspects of my businesses.
I had a choice, I made it.
I knew I NEEDED this mid-year break and week away to do as little as possible on all aspects of life, to rest, relax and recharge the juicy batteries! If I didn’t, I’d return home like a resentful flickering flame instead of an energetic ball of fire, ready to get back into all the exciting things that await me 🙂
“Take a deep breath. Get present in the moment and ask yourself what is important this very second.” – Greg McKeown
Whether you run your own business or not, every day you are faced with choices. You are faced with multiple ‘to do’ lists, multiple decisions, multiple options and ultimately YOU have to decide what’s essential, what matters most, what can wait and what shouldn’t even come into consideration.
I’m writing this over a cuppa on my last day at Alice Springs after making sure I got time in for what I wanted to do for ME! I made myself the priority, and because I did that, choosing to do this after didn’t feel so bad, like a sacrifice. It let me ENJOY it, instead of resent it. I also chose to not do or reply to or start on a bunch of other things I could have.
Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.
Being a striver, an achiever, a ‘doer’, it’s not easy or natural for me to not do as much as I could/can. To ignore emails and messages and ‘getting on top/ahead” as things pop up, but it’s become essential to my work/life success and happiness. And like anything, it’s just a matter of forming new ways, new habits, seeing and feeling the results and then sticking with it.
If this whole topic of essentialism is speaking your language, I highly suggest getting onto Greg McKeown’s episode about The Secret to Effortless Productivity & Overcoming Overwhelm on Lewis Howe’s podcast The School of Greatness and checking some episodes on Greg’s own What’s Essential podcast (I really dug his episode #40 chat with Michael Hyatt on Winning at Work and Succeeding at Life).
Many things are good, many things are important, but only a few things are essential.