Gift Idea #3: Essentialism

The irony of taking on a 31 day blogging challenge and then recommending a book titled, "Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less" is not lost on me. It is probably a good thing I have pulled it off my shelf to revisit for this blog post. 

"The way of the Essentialist," according to author Greg McKeown, "means living by design, not by fault. Instead of making choices reactively, the Essentialist deliberately distinguishes the vital few from the trivial many, eliminates the nonessentials, and then removes obstacles so the essential things have clear, smooth passage. In other words, Essentialism is a disciplined, systematic approach for determining where our highest point of contribution lies, then making execution of those things almost effortless."

I read this book on vacation in March.It was a good time to read it because I was away from the busyness of my life.  I found it really helpful in focusing on the right things I need to be doing. I love the questions on the inside jacket:

  • Have you ever found yourself stretched too thin?
  • Do you simultaneously feel overworked and under utilized?
  • Are you often busy but not productive?
  • Do you feel like your time is constantly being hijacked by other people's agenda?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, check out this book. Or if someone in your life has mentioned any of the above, consider this book as a gift for them. Our lives are complicated. We are pulled in many different directions and there are so many opportunities. Some times it hard to know where to focus our energy. This book offers some good insight for anyone who needs to learn when to say yes and when to say no.  

Do you have dreams for your life?

I am a dreamer. I know I am. I think it goes hand in hand with being a learner. I feel like my horizons are continually expanding and there are new lands and ideas calling me to explore them. This year has been such an incredible year for me. It's been a year of growth. In fact, I would say this has been one of the most significant years in my life. 

It's weird because at the same time it's been the worst year I have ever had in my business. In fact, I find myself at a crossroads in terms of vocation or the work I am doing.  I do think that it is part of this transformation I have been going through.  When you start really making shifts in your life you find yourself at odds with what was. 


I always begin the year by choosing a word. This year it was OPEN. I'll be sharing more about the word selection process in an upcoming blog post. My desire was to hold a posture of being 'open' to what I felt was calling in my life. I know it sounds a little woo woo or esoteric. And it is hard to articulate it. 

So I've seen these things happened in my life as I have become more OPEN:

  • I stopped a bunch of stuff including stepping down as President of the business I co-owned with 3 other colleagues, going to church, and spending time with people who exhaust me
  • I started seeing a therapist to deal with lingering health anxiety
  • I went to NYC - very spontaneously with a friend
  • I went to Cuba to read many books and drink many Mojitos
  • I went to Ireland/England/The Netherlands with my sister (the funniest person I know) and I am still laughing
  • I went on a retreat with my podcast co-host and we sort of wrote a book
  • I came face to face with my apathy towards reconcilation and began a project to educate myself and become more involved in understanding and supporting the ongoing challenges facing the Indigenous Peoples of Canada
  • I joined an environmentalist discussion group
  • I discovered the Quakers - and hallelujah they aren't worried about people going to church!
  • I joined the committee that organizes Steel City Stories (a local story telling group)
  • I connected with some new people who seem to be on the same track as I am
  • I decided to return to Cambodia to do an evaluation of the program I started there 3 years ago with a colleague

It's been a crazy year. It's flying by. This week, I've set aside 3 days to do a deep dive into 2018. I've got some dreams and I've got some needs. I've got some ideas around my business and where I want to focus next. 

How about you? Do you have dreams for the future? Are you not sure how to achieve them? Are you lacking confidence or support? I'd love to talk to you about what would help you move forward in your life. Send me an email - let's dream together. 


If a tree falls in the forest...

I know I am not alone in my love/hate relationship with social media. If Instagram was a person our relationship would be in trouble. 

I have a friend who isn't on any social media. Before you make any assumptions let me tell you she is a 35 year old woman who has made a conscious choice. For those of us who spend more time than we want to admit online I want to share some thoughts to help you start to rethink your relationship with social media. I don't think social media is evil. I do think, it is highly addictive and we need to be smart about how we use it. 

But first, I want to address why I don't think you should take a break. I hear a lot of people say or post, "I'm taking a month off social media"  Or "I'm giving up facebook for Lent."  The last one is usually posted on facebook - thank you for letting us know how pious you are. I view this approach akin to admitting you have a problem in your relationship but instead of exploring how to fix it you are going to avoid it. Instead of taking a break how about establishing some criteria and thinking about your social media habit?

Social Media is about image. I love Paul Jarvis recent blog post recently on curated images. Read it here. Why do we post things? Often it is because we want to impress other people. We want them to look at our perfect latte, our Kinfolk inspired picnic or our happy family and think good things about our life. I know. I am as guilty of this as the next person! Sure we may tell ourselves that we are sharing with our friends. All 2500 of them. Before you post something try asking yourself, "Why am I posting this picture/comment/update?"

Social media is driven by consumerism. In exchange for the use of these online platforms we offer our personal lives up to the advertisers who can the target us in their campaigns. According to Investopedia, "The crux of Facebook's source of revenue is digital advertisements. The company reported advertising revenue of $7.9 billion last quarter." 

Social media is sucking up our time. Currently, total time spent on social media beats time spent eating and drinking, socializing, and grooming, according to research done by Social Media Today.  The full article can be found here

I recommend reading Deep Work by Cal Newport. He gives a reasoned and thoughtful approach to Social media. He suggests,“Identifying what matters most in your life, and then attempting to assess the impacts of various tools on these factors, doesn’t reduce to a simple formula—this task requires practice and experimentation.”

I'm considering some of my social media use. I have been thinking about this for several months. I have made some good decisions and I know I will continue to refine my use over the next few months.

I want to help people live truthfully so that we can heal our world. Let's get honest about our social media addictions and the impact it is having on our relationships and mental health. If you would like coaching around social media or any other barrier you have that is keeping you from living your life connect with me.