Every year is the year I’m going to declutter and minimize the “stuff” I have hanging around in my house. And every year…it doesn’t happen.
As a business owner, I’m in the same boat. I want to reduce the number of services I offer so I can simply focus on what I love (but I love it all). I want to stop being so busy and start getting more done (but there’s so much to do). Sigh.
I’ve read all the books and pretended to do all the homework, but yet nothing changes. So when I heard about the book Essentialism, I knew I needed to check it out. And you know what? I just think I might have gotten some key takeaways that can help me get to a more essentialist mindset.
In the interest of paring down my review of this book a bit (you know, to make it more essentialist-friendly), Jodi sent me some questions to reflect on.
Do you consider yourself an essentialist? How so?
I think, in my head, I’m an essentialist. But in real life, I’m not. I want to do everything and please everyone. I want to make time for #allthethings, but in reality I only make myself miserable. However, after reading this book I really see the value in focusing only on the essential and thinking about the tradeoffs I make when I say “yes” to something.
What makes something essential to you in your life right now?
As a 40-something who will be an empty-nester in just three short years, anything that relates to my daughter or growing my career is essential to me. For my daughter, I want to make sure she has everything she needs to be successful as she finishes high school and enters college. That means college visits and resume-building activities that she wants and needs to do.
For business, I have a pretty lofty three-year goal. If it will help me reach my goal, then it’s essential to me right now.
Of course, there are other people and things that are important in my life, but my daughter and business take precedence over any of these.
What insignificant things are you attempting in the name of efficiency that are undermining your focus?
I think I’m a systems hoarder. I like to try all the programs that people recommend without really committing to anything. I use pieces of this one and parts of that one but don’t implement anything to its fullest potential. That definitely undermines my focus because it forces me to have my hands in too many pieces of my business that really should be automated. What I really need to do is build the perfect system that works 100 percent the way I want it to work. But then that would really take me away from where I want to focus right now!
Whose opinion motivates you, consciously or unconsciously?
I always wonder what my daughter thinks of what I’ve been doing in business. I was a teacher until she started middle school so these really formative years, where she’s been trying to figure out what she wants to do in life, have been me working from home in my pajamas. When I was her age, online business wasn’t a “thing” because the internet didn’t really exist then. I asked her recently what the biggest thing she’s learned from me and she said, “I know that whatever I choose to do, I can always make a change if I’m not happy.” I’d call that a win.
I also value my parents’ opinion (just don’t tell them that!). I was a difficult teenager and I haven’t always made the best decisions in my life. I’d like to think I’ve gotten smarter as I get older, but I know I’ll still always make mistakes. Recently, I’ve started to think about what my dad would do in my situation in business because he’s the one who really taught me about the value of hard work and ethical business practices. Sometimes I’ll call him to ask his thoughts on a big decision, but what I learned from watching him is never far from my mind.
Do you agree that in order to make trade-offs wisely, we have to take lots of time for exploration and reflection before we commit? How do you process when making decisions (e.g. lean toward overthinking or lean toward quick action)?
I am not one to mull over decisions. I’m an action-taker, in business and in life. And it’s come back to bite me in the butt more times than I can count. If I had to go back and do it all again, I’m pretty certain that I’d do it all the same. I think I’ve learned and grown from my head-first attitude and I wouldn’t be the person I am today if I did things differently.
Do you find it difficult to say no to things?
Oh, you better believe I do! But after reading this book and thinking about the tradeoffs we make when we say yes to something that isn’t ideal (whether it’s a business decision or a personal decision) has really made me think about the projects I take on and the people I have in my life.
When was a time that “muscling through” was worth it? I think any time you push through adversity for a positive outcome is absolutely worth it. Starting a new business and moving forward through a messy divorce (and its aftermath) are both times that I put my head down and muscled through. I didn’t find rainbows and unicorns on the other side, but I did find some peace of mind and happiness—for myself and for others in my life. And that’s definitely worth it.
Abby is a content marketing strategist and copywriter for small business owners, helping to get her clients' written message out to their audience, in their own voice and on their own terms. She specializes in working with female service-based businesses to generate ideas and strategies that help to move their businesses forward with content that attracts the perfect audience. Abby firmly believes in the power of educating and empowering business owners so they can grow their businesses without breaking the bank. Community over competition is truly her jam!
When she’s not crafting words or coaching her clients through their own writing roadblocks, you can find her exploring the mountains near her home in Phoenix or finding new ways to get her teenaged daughter to take a break from the school books and technology. You can follow her on Instagram or Facebook.