The Accidental Essentialist
I just finished reading the book, Essentialism by Greg McKeown. To boil it down to the basic message, it’s about recognizing what is most important. When you know what is most important and focus on that, everything else falls into place.
It is also about ridding your life of excess noise and clutter.
I could relate to every page in the book, but I have to say that my journey to get there was a bit accidental. Just over 4 years ago, my family asked for my help with running a trade show. At the time, I lived in Idaho and they lived in North Carolina. I wasn’t quite sure how things were going to work out, so I rented out my house, put all my stuff in storage, and sold my car. I shipped my clothes and hopped on a plane with my cat. To hit the ground running, I just stayed with my Dad until the trade show happened.
At the conclusion of the trade show, my family decided not to do it again. In the meantime, I had come up with a business idea that I wanted to pursue. And that’s when I became an accidental essentialist. Me and my cat moved into a 2-bedroom townhouse with a queen size bed, two 6-foot tables that would be my desk, a computer, my clothes, and a few kitchen items. That was it. I vividly remember the feeling as I walked around the nearly empty townhouse.
I felt free.
It was such a surprise. Rather than feeling empty or lost, I felt free of burdens. Free of clutter. Focused. It was a great way to launch my business. It’s easy to sit at a computer when there are literally no other items to distract—other than a cat begging for treats once in awhile.
What was really surprising was the things I missed that were in storage across the country. It was the little things and mostly kitchen tools. It wasn’t the cool vase I bought or even a bookshelf. I missed my spatula and my serving trays.
Over the course of time, I’ve repurchased some items and my business kept me so busy that I just didn’t make the time or effort to move the stuff from storage. That’s something on my list for this year since it’s silly to have the majority of my possessions on the other side of the country.
But the lesson has sunk in. Before I add another item to my surroundings, I ask questions. Will this add value to my life or my business? Is it beautiful or useful or sentimental? If it doesn’t fit in those categories, then the answer is a clear no.
The same goes for my business. A big part of what I do is digital. It takes a ridiculous number of apps and programs to operate a digital business these days. It’s very easy to get caught up in shiny object syndrome where you lose focus and get caught up in the latest new thing, aka shiny object. I’m as susceptible as anyone.
However, as I continue to learn, explore, and expand my businesses, I keep focus on what I’m working to accomplish, which is to empower my customers and followers through providing valuable information.
The moral of the story is to focus on what’s important.