I think I've read three life changing books.
I don't use that concept lightly. Harry Potter is great, but it didn't "change my life". Born to Run inspired me tremendously when I was running a lot but it doesn't effect the choices I make on a daily basis. Amy Poehler made me think and laugh but I'm not pondering "WWAD?" constantly (though maybe I should?). I re-read Into Thin Air every 18 months but have no plans to climb Everest.
You might remember my game-changers:
The first one was Secrets of a Healthy Metabolism (I wrote in detail about this four years ago here). It completely changed my relationship with food which forever changed my relationship with my body and overall health outlook. I've heard from some folks who connect with it and some who haven't so obviously I'm not saying "THIS BOOK WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE." I'm saying, "this book changed my life."
The second one was The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up (I wrote about this more recently here). Again, I think some people connect and some people are repelled by this book. Marie Kondo makes the point that once you get your house to a certain point (and you'll know when you're there because you'll feel completely content) you will no longer even want to buy more things. And (for me) this turned out to be accurate. Since I de-cluttered every one of our spaces last spring, I shop way less and more than once have walked into Target for season salt, toilet paper and dental floss and walked out with ...waitforit... just those three items. This is (obviously) not worth a medal, but it for sure represents a new outlook on "stuff."
And this past weekend I read Essentialism. When Kal was in town she recommended it. I think she said something like "You probably already do some of what he says but you're going to really LOVE hearing how he says it."
Yes. Yes. Yes. Did I ever.
If I summed up the book in three words it would be: LESS IS MORE.
If I summed up the book in a a longer sentence it would be: we gain much more when we focus our energy on a few things (or just one!) instead of many.
If I was going to pull one quote it would be: "Most of what exists in the universe - our actions, and all other forces, resources, and ideas - has little value and yields little result; on the other hand, a few things work fantastically well and have tremendous impact." - Richard Koch
I appreciated a lot about this book. Author Greg McKeown makes the whole concept (which in many ways goes against everything we might have learned for decades) seem so practical. He admits this is hard as hell while illustrating why it's worth it. He gives strategies for actually cutting back and saying "no". He has examples that make sense and feel truly inspiring.
I found myself thinking over my routines and habits and criteria for saying yes and no for everything I do. At the simplest level, I have three work related projects: the blog, the podcast and GTWB. They are all important to me for various reasons but together they are a full-time job and a half. Do I want a job and a half with just part-time child care? Can I streamline parts of each of these jobs? Do I want to do anything half-heartedly? Can I recognize every single time an email, offer or opportunity comes through my inbox that the work I am already trying to do is "enough"? Can I start saying "no" more? Both to myself and others?
I don't have answers to those questions yet. But I'm asking them anyway. I'm working on determining my "essentials." There is an obvious balance that needs to be found between financial security and creative challenge. There is a more obvious balance that must be maintained between "successful business" and "satisfying life." In less than four months, I'm going to have a brand new person living in my house helping me throw "balance" out the window and watching me learn (yet again) that the "essentials" really boil down to just a few things (milk and sleep).
Yep. It's a lot. But I'm inspired, not panicked, thanks to this book. Great read. Highly recommend.
Coincidentally, this week's ELISE GETS CRAFTY episode is "on quitting." It's something I recorded weeks ago (thank goodness or it might have just been an un-authorized audio book of me reading Essentialism). It's not really about cutting back but it is about how to growth. Subscribe here or stream here.
*links are affiliate. Photos were taken by me of book pages and are just to illustrate how great this book is - they are copyright the author.