For students, life can easily become overwhelming. Between classes, social life, jobs, current events, and thinking about the future, it is easy to feel burnt out. The concept of essentialism, a life philosophy of mindfulness, can help students like you take on less and focus more on what really matters.
What is Essentialism?
Outlined by business strategist and author Greg McKeown in his 2014 book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, the concept of essentialism calls for “choosing the vital few over the trivial many.” By redirecting your energy to fewer things with more intention, essentialism allows individuals to take larger strides in the directions most important to them, rather than making minimal progress in many directions.
Before you begin any task of any size, it is important to understand your essential intent. Concretely decide why you’re doing something to find a focused sense of purpose, rather than expecting yourself to do everything. For example, before you go back to school this fall ask yourself: Why are you in school? Why are you in your major? Why are you in your extracurricular activities? Why do you spend time with certain groups of people? Design your life based on the answers to these questions and remove non-essential obstacles along the way to avoid defaulting to a path of stress.
Going Back-to-School Essentially
Consider these methods for living and learning more essentially:
As we grow up, it is easy to forget one of the most essential parts of our childhood: playing! The word school itself comes from the Greek word for leisure, “schole.” By looking at play as essential to learning about yourself and the world around you, it becomes easier to reconnect with yourself and why you are choosing to learn.
Proper rest must be a priority for all students, and ultimately, all people. Listen to your body’s needs and give it the essential space to reset and come back stronger the next day.
It can be hard to forget that the work you do every day is exceptional, but it really is! Take on what you can, and take small steps each day to celebrate the work you do. Want to study more? Start by studying five minutes each day because that is a win.
Set priorities and focus on the now. You can’t control what happened yesterday or what will happen tomorrow, so focus on how you respond to today. Practice mindfulness and center yourself and your attention.
Essentialism and Climate Action
Climate anxiety is real. When so many large, serious issues are impacting our people and planet, it can be difficult to know where to start to take action, and essentialism is here to help.
Listen and learn
Before you can be a voice for change, it is essential that you hear the voices of those around you. Listen to their stories to help build your story for relevant, impactful, lasting change.
Start small, and commit to take action. The hardest and most essential part of climate action is the first step. Find something you can do today, and begin. Once you take that first step, it becomes much easier to plan and take your second, fiftieth, or hundredth.
Find your calling
No one can solve climate change on their own. We all have different skills, backgrounds, and perspectives, so it is important to find your essential calling. Maybe you’re passionate about soil chemistry, or maybe you love speaking to large crowds. Whatever it is, your superpower is essential, so find it, and let it grow. Try exploring the concept of Ikigai to find your purpose through ten easy steps.
How will you begin to live more essentially?
Begin now, and begin with yourself. Essentialism stems from within, so tune into your mind, body, and soul. By living more essentially, you can align with your purpose and look at life with more intention and joy. You are essential, and by nurturing and trusting yourself, you can change the world.
To learn more about living your life essentially, we recommend these resources:
Video: Greg McKeown: Essentialism – The Disciplined Pursuit of Less
Video: Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less | Greg McKeown
Book: Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown
Infographic: Essentialist Model
Infographic: Essentialism Diagram