Essentialism: Less, but Better

Author: Victoria Cohen

This past week, several of us gathered to discuss “Essentialism” by Greg McKeown as part of our company’s personal development book club that we started this June. 

So, what even is “essentialism”? Essentialism in a nutshell is the disciplined pursuit of less, but better – carving the path towards making our highest possible contributions to both ourselves and the world around us. In our fast-paced world, it is easy to get wrapped up into the demands of society, losing focus of what truly matters. Essentialism is a universal philosophy that teaches us how to distinguish and prioritize what is essential, eliminate the non-essential, and create a system that makes the journey to success nearly effortless.

See below our favorite takeaways from “Essentialism” and learn how you can focus in on what truly matters and embark on new pathways for success in both your personal and professional life


1.  If you don’t prioritize your life, someone else will

Many people find themselves saying yes as their default, whether to people-please or to avoid the potential negative reactions from firmly saying no. The problem with falling into this repetitive cycle, is that we give up our power to choose, and the actions of our life become prioritized by others – ultimately shifting the trajectory of our personal and professional fates. In life, there will always be things that we don’t want to do and dreary requests to fulfill, but we must distinguish these from those that align with our own priorities, values, and passions, and those that don’t.

2. The genius in routines

What distinguishes the best from the rest, are not goals, but rather systems and routines. Sure, goals are important – they give us an idea of where we’re going and set metrics in place to help visualize the desired result. However, without the proper systems and routines in place, achieving success in any area of our lives remains nearly impossible. Setting strategic routines not only sustains our results, but through repetition, executing what’s truly important becomes nearly effortless.

So how does the essentialist create a routine to lead them on the path to success?

  1. Explore & Evaluate – Identify what truly matters, and determine the priority through disciplined, tough questions. Ask yourself – will this activity make the highest possible contribution toward my goal?
  2. Eliminate– Remove the non-essential from your system. Ask yourself – Would I invest in this again if I did not already own it? Stick to the facts to determine if it is essential to your goal
  1. Execute – Now that you’ve determined what is essential, and removed what is not, you have all the tools necessary to craft your best routine based on what truly matters to achieving your goal. Each time you repeat the routine, it will become easier, and easier, until it is your default mechanism. The systems and routines that you set will be the secret ingredient that will make executing your goal nearly effortless.  

3. Win big by cutting your losses

Is there a way to get more out of life from removing the non-essential? The answer is a clear yes. Sunk cost theory is the tendency to continue to invest time, money, or energy into something we know is a losing proposition simply because we have already incurred a cost that cannot be recouped.


When you find yourself exhausting your resources and or making minimal to no progress, ask yourself these questions below

If I weren’t already invested in this project, how much would I invest in it now?

What else could I do with my time or money if I pulled the plug now?


Don’t allow yourself to get trapped into a venture with diminishing returns simply because you’ve already invested time, energy, and resources. There’s a high chance that admitting failure and pivoting your strategy will result in even greater opportunities for success.

What You Can Take Away

When we’re able to reduce, simplify, and focus on what truly matters, we’re able to better tap into both our own highest potential, as well as the true potential of others around us.

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