Finding What’s Essential
Based off of Essentialism (Greg McKeown) and The Secret To Thriving in Times of Crisis (Dr. Myles Munroe).
“Once an Australian nurse named Bronnie Ware, who cared for people in the last twelve weeks of their lives, recorded their most often discussed regrets. At the top of the list: “I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”
- Essentialism (Greg McKeown)
Growing up, I internalized that to be successful in a job - I had to do every assignment and do it well. I had to work hard beyond my own saturation point and limits. To say, “no” at work was not a thing. That is until about a year and a half ago, I asked my boss her secret. She is the kind of human that was wonderful at managing her life - she seemed competent at everything. How was it possible? She is a mother and a wife. She is an incredibly strategic worker. And was an even-tempered and kind manager. I very rarely saw her rattled.
She began mentoring me in essentialism (she also ordered me the book). I realized that she was good at everything that she prioritized. Learning the lesson was useful at the time, but I find myself leaning on the principles now more than ever.
During Covid-19, there have been a lot of people talking about the importance of how we use this time. I've read and heard anything from it's time to:
build the business
spend time with your family
learn a new craft
cook every meal from scratch
teach your child immaculately
find a new hobby
read 100 books
do FaceTime with all of your friends
And to work out every single day.
All of those things are fine if they are YOUR goals.
“We can either make our choices deliberately or allow other people’s agendas to control our lives.” ― Greg Mckeown, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less
Don't be distracted by the expectations, desires, and opinions of others. It is so easy to let other people dictate what we are supposed to do during this time. We can quickly get so wrapped up into having something “to show” at the end of this period that we miss what our Creator had in store for us individually.
“Today, technology has lowered the barrier for others to share their opinion about what we should be focusing on. It is not just information overload; it is opinion overload.” ― Greg Mckeown, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less
Cut the noise and choose what you will focus on during our time at home.
Manage What you Have:
During social distancing, many folks are feeling burnt out. They are drowning under the constant demand for their time (work, children, friends, family, etc.). Now, there isn’t a one rule fits all for any of our circumstances, but Dr. Myles Munroe did the most powerful sermon on (physically) thriving in times of crisis. It’s definitely worth a listen. A very dear friend of mine and community leader, Pastor Camisha Chambers, sent me Dr. Monroe’s speech while she was reflecting on her managerial responsibilities.
Dr. Monroe's list for thriving:
Determine what your NEEDS are (list them).
Only acquire what you need
Decide to not live beyond your ability.
Withdraw the unnecessary.
Delay major projects
Value your possessions
Save, conserve, and protect
One of his scriptures of choice is Proverbs 13:7: “One person pretends to be rich, yet has nothing; another pretends to be poor, yet has great wealth.” McKeown says it this way “What if society stopped telling us to buy more stuff and instead allowed us to create more space to breathe and think? What if society encouraged us to reject what has been accurately described as doing things we detest, to buy things we don’t need, with money we don’t have, to impress people we don’t like?”
We have to get away from buying things, doing things, and functioning in ways that are for the eyes of others.
So what does this mean?
Don’t add more things to our plates; instead, let’s look at and assess our current rhythm and circumstances. And when we look at our lives, and we see nonessential aspects - withdraw from those.
On my trip to New York City, I asked my friend Tasha (another woman that seems "good" at juggling) whether she was cultivating new friendships. Her response was, "not right now, with my children, job, and husband - I'm really looking to focus on being a great friend to the friends that I already have." Made sense. She is the friend that hosts the shower, organizes the dinners, never forgets the birthday; she always gives the perfect gift (because she knows our wants/needs) and makes us feel seen/heard.
Tasha has prioritized her family, friends, and her job. Instead of attending every parent social or all the mommy groups, she has put her time towards consistently making the things in her life beautiful. She unapologetically declines new group meetups that interfere with her time with her job, hubby, and children.
“Essentialism is not about how to get more things done; it’s about how to get the right things done. It doesn’t mean just doing less for the sake of less either. It is about making the wisest possible investment of your time and energy in order to operate at our highest point of contribution by doing only what is essential.” ― Greg Mckeown, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less
This is where prayer, reflection, and writing down what your needs are is critical. Pastor Roy Barrett, of Discover Life Church, (he has a fantastic podcast) asked his church to write down:
What needs to be done during this season. (what's essential)
The things that need to be deprioritized in this season. (nonessential right now)
What needs to be removed altogether. (nonessential always)
“Eliminating the nonessentials isn’t just about mental discipline. It’s about the emotional discipline necessary to say no to social pressure.” ― Greg Mckeown, Essentialism
And so if God has given you a vision for a business. You have an hour that you can carve out of your busy day. Instead of joining all the group get-togethers, working out for the full hour/daily, use that hour to write a business plan. And so no, you haven't fostered a new friendship, nor are you ready to run a marathon, but you have a business.
Just remember that, (Mckeown writes)“When you say yes to something nonessential, you are saying no to something essential.“
I pray that as you determine what your day-to-day schedule looks like that you are savagely protective of what matters most to you.
Shalom, my friends!