Essentialism: Balance What Matters and What Matters Most

It’s no surprise that we all have a different set of priorities. What’s important to me is likely not the same as what is important to you. But we all sometimes struggle with how to give our priorities the focus that they need. After all, there are so many other things in life grappling for our attention. How do we determine what matters most and give those things the energy they deserve? How do we, in other words, figure out what is essential to our success?

Essentialists learn that in order to pursue less for better results, they have to understand how three key areas affect their lives: explore, eliminate, and execute. In his book Essentialism, author Greg McKeown explains, “By investing in fewer things we have the satisfying experience of making significant progress in the things that matter most.”

There are a lot of things that matter. But as we like to say, everything doesn’t matter equally. It’s up to us to determine what these things are and give them the attention they deserve. Like Essentialists, we need to understand that how we can eliminate distractions, focus our efforts, and execute in a way that puts on the path to our desired outcome.

If this idea sounds familiar, it’s because in The ONE Thing, we say:

“Saying yes to your ONE Thing is your top priority. As long as you can keep this in perspective, saying no to anything that keeps you from keeping your time block should become something you can accept.”

So how do you explore which areas of your life are essential to your progress and where you should be prioritizing your energy?  Here’s how you can use both The ONE Thing and Essentialism as a one-two punch:

1. Determine Your ONE Thing (Explore)

When you take a look at your life from a wide-angle view, what is your vision for what you want to accomplish personally or professionally? What do you want to master? What do you want your legacy to be? Answering these questions can help to give you a clearer perspective on what your priorities are. Maybe you want to teach your professional craft to an audience, run a marathon, or meet your children at the school bus every day. Exploring what is important to you so that you can pinpoint where your priorities lay can show you what is essential in order for you to feel satisfied with your life.

When you know what will make you happy, the next step is determining what you need to do in order to achieve it. You can use your top essential priority to drill down even further. Accomplishing what matters most requires focus.  We don’t accomplish great things by doing a little bit of everything. Rather, when we focus on fewer things and emphasize our effort on them, we’re more likely to achieve better results.

2. Say No (Eliminate)

Saying no is hard. But it’s a necessary step on our path if we are to give our priorities the attention they deserve. After all, if we take on everything that comes our way, it gives us less time to focus on our goals. Maybe a new committee at work is forming and needs members, the PTA needs a volunteer to spearhead a new initiative at your child’s school, or your neighborhood really needs someone to plan the community garage sale. All of these things feel important and it can be hard to turn any of them down. But it’s important to recognize that saying “yes” to one thing means say “no” to time we could dedicate to something else. And, if we take on too many other tasks, we leave less time for our own priorities.

Plainly said, joining that work committee may make it less likely your job will be finished in time to greet your child at the bus stop and overseeing your neighborhood event comes at the expense of perfecting the presentation you were hoping to ace. When it comes down to it, we have to say “no” more than we ever expected to things that distract us from our top priorities. Doing so enables us to have more time to focus on what matters most in our lives.

3. Time Block (Execute)

When you know what you want to achieve and what you must do in order to reach it, it’s imperative that you dedicate time to it as well. This means making an appointment with yourself – and keeping it – to work on your priorities. It means creating an accountability plan and executing it.

Essentialists have to ask themselves what is essential, thoughtfully eliminate the non-essentials, and then reallocate their time and energy to only the things that they’ve determined matter. Like with The ONE Thing, Essentialism recognizes that taking the time to determine what truly matters in your world is the best way to achieve extraordinary results.

Have you taken the steps to become an Essentialist in pursuit of the ONE Thing that matters most to you? Let us know what you did to break through to the next level in your success journey by leaving a comment for our ONE Thing Facebook Community!