Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less – Book Review

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This month I’m talking about a book that has been very important on my Journey Toward Location Independence. The book is Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown.

For a long time, I was at either end of the spectrum.

First, having way too many possessions: over a dozen vehicles, 2 homes, and multiple storage units (the consequences of running multiple businesses and owning dozens of rental properties).

Then a few years later, I took a different direction with my work, and became intrigued with the idea of minimalism. After a while though, this too seemed unfulfilling.

What’s wrong with minimalism?Essentialism

For all the high points, minimalism has plenty of lows too. It puts so much of the focus on simply having fewer possessions, and often I found myself making compromises.

It seems like with minimalism, the bragging rights come with owning practically nothing – even if it makes your life more difficult.

This is where essentialism comes in.

What’s different about Essentialism?

The main catchphrase of essentialism is Less, but better; singling out the vital few from the trivial many.

It’s not so much about having fewer things as it is about being conscious of what you do have, and striving to have the best for your specific situation. It even goes way beyond possessions; it influences how you spend your time and helps prioritize your life in general.

Start with what matters.

What matters most to you? The best electronic devices, plenty of free time, choosing more healthy groceries than junk food? You can start by choosing one area of your life you want to improve.

keep it simple

Decide what’s important to you, understand that there are trade-offs, and then you can begin eliminating things that don’t fit. It’s kind of like this post I read on a concept called The Conscious Consumer.

The Impact

Where this book had the most impact with me was when I was first planning to live abroad for a while. Being limited on the amount of things we could bring with us on the trip, it became important to make sure we were bringing the right items, and that they were high quality.

I started with all of the standard travel items (packing cubes, silicone bottles, luggage scale, etc.), most of which I was able to get for FREE (more about this in an upcoming post). After that, I started whittling down what I though were the important things until I could fit them in a single checked bag.

Travel Items: Essentialist vs Minimalist

Here are a few specific examples of items I decided to bring that a minimalist would have rejected:suitcase

  • Monitor stand – I often stand while I’m working, and can use this item to convert a kitchen table, counter, etc., into a ‘standing desk’.
  • Multiple bags (messenger bag, backpack, duffel bag, sling shoulder bag) – I prefer using the right bag for the right reason. Things like being out all day vs only out for a couple hours, traveling light (water bottle, snacks, sunglasses, etc.) vs taking my laptop, camera, Kindle, thermos, umbrella, snacks, etc.
  • Shoes – Most packing lists recommend 1, maybe 2 pair, but I brought 4 pair along. I wanted to have something for casual walking, gym shoes, slide sandals for the pool, and a good pair of hiking boots.
  • Music Gear – bass guitar and recording equipment.

That last example was a hard decision to make (since I had to use up an entire checked bag for it), but I’ve seen too many musicians let ‘life’ get in the way of their hobbies & interests..

Beyond Possessions

Aside from simply decreasing the amount of ‘stuff’ you have, I’ve found the principle of Essentialism helpful in many other areas of my life. From time management, to the different groups I’ve been involved with, to what activities I do in my free time, it’s had quite the impact.

I encourage you to check it out, it’s definitely worth the read. You can find it HERE.

That’s it for this week. Next week I’ll build on this post and last week’s ‘goals’ post by showing you the exact formula I use to manage my time. (Think: 80/20 2.0)

Cheers!

Patrick

 

2 comments

  1. I would have to agree with you, I just listened to a minimalist podcast and it was depressing. After a divorce you’re forced to purge even if you don’t want to, but I am still amazed by the amount of junk I own. I am slowly going to be whittling it down. I fully agree with your assessment that if you don’t have the right tools, you can’t be effective.

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Patrick. It’s good to hear from you again! Life often shakes things up a bit, and it usually ends up being another opportunity to re-assess what’s important to us. I’ve had to start over multiple times, and each time I find out what’s really essential, and get closer to my ideal situation.

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