Monday, July 21, 2014

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less - Book Review

Greg McKeown's book, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, has made quite an impact on my thinking and, consequently, on how I deal with life in general. From the title one would think essentialism is just another philosophy concerning simple living or minimalism. Though what he has to say may spawn a thinning of one's wardrobe with a haul to the local thrift shop, reading it has the potential for so much more. In fact, essentialism is a mindset which impacts every area of one's life.

Greg makes the case that, for most of us, our lives are characterized by too many choices. Our time, our money, our space are all pulled in a million different directions to the point we are stressed out and dissatisfied. Many times our first impulse is to say yes to everything in case we should miss out on something important. But, as he so well points out, when we say yes to everything, we usually end up missing what really is valuable.

For myself, I am an empty-nester, homeschool veteran with too much stuff, too much time, and too many choices for being of service to others on a daily basis who has found great peace through reading Greg's thoughts on essentialism. In fact, I am currently working my way through the book again, and I plan on giving it at least one more read and taking some notes to share with my readers as I begin to implement the things I've learned.

The book itself is divided into four parts, each step leading to the next:

  • Part I deals with the core mind-set of an essentialist. This is key to understanding how what we think determines what we do. All throughout the book, Greg revisits the differences between the mind-sets of non-essentialists and essentialists. This is vital for determining where we go wrong from the outset.
  • Part II goes farther into how we may discern what is really important, between the trivial many and the vital few.
  • Part III helps us find ways to begin to cut out those trivial many in order to invest in and enjoy the vital few.
  • Part IV ends with practical ways to make doing those vital few things effortlessly. 

The entire layout of the book makes it easy for the time-constrained person to read it through and more easily ingest the essentialist insights. Since the chapters are short and concise (the author practices what he preaches), I have found it convenient to read one chapter a day along with my morning devotions. This has also given me time to chew on the individual ideas as they are given in each chapter.

Regardless of your calling in life, whether it be an executive in a high-stress work environment or a stay-at-home mother burdened with the multiple cares of home and family, this book is a God send.