[10] More Isn't Better

Sunday Ain't Scary

Dec 26 2021 • 16 mins

What if instead of more, our goal was "Less, but better?" I recently read a book called Essentialism, which has quickly become one of my favorites. It gives you a framework to develop your own purpose and stay focused on your goals. It is a discipline you apply each and every time you are faced with a decision about whether to say yes or whether to politely decline.

The way of the Essentialist is the relentless pursuit of less but better and happens in 3 steps:

  1. Explore: Discerning the Trivial Many From the Vital Few
  2. Eliminate: Cutting Out the Trivial Many
  3. Execute: Removing Obstacles and Making Execution Effortless

A Nonessentialist approaches every trade-off by asking, "How can I do both?" Essentialists ask the tougher but ultimately more liberating question, "Which problem do I want?" An Essentialist makes trade-offs deliberately.

This intentionality is important because if you don’t prioritize your life, someone else will and traditionally in our society we are punished for good behavior (saying no) and rewarded for bad behavior (saying yes).

Here are some ways you can explore, eliminate, and execute on your new journey to LESS but BETTER. Mind you, this is a process, as I'm doing it, I'm evaluating decision by decision...

  • Keep a journal to help you recognize where your energy is leaking and document life
  • Get some quick wins by cutting out things that obviously aren't aligned to you
    • Use a criteria list with 3 minimum criteria every opportunity must meet to get a "yes" from you
    • 90% Rule: Give the option a score between 0-100, if it's less than 90, it's a 0
    • Pretend you don't own it and ask "If I didn't have this opportunity, how much would I be willing to sacrifice in order to obtain it?"
  • Set your boundaries and stick to them! It can be hard but remember these about "No's"
    • Separate the decision from the relationship
    • Focus on the inevitable trade-off
    • Remind yourself everyone is selling something
    • Make peace with "no" often requires trading popularity for respect
    • Remember a clear "no" is more graceful than a vague "yes"
  • Here are a few ways to actually say "No"
    • Pause before you speak
    • "Let me check my calendar and get back to you"
    • "Yes, but what should I deprioritize?"
    • "You're welcome to X. I am willing to Y."
    • "I can't, but X might be interested."
    • Use email bouncebacks

More isn't better. Essential Intent is making one decision that will eliminate 1000 later decisions. It's getting away from majoring in minor activities.

The way of the Essentialist means living by design, not by default.

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