Are you an Essentialist?

Are you an EssentialistThis morning I read an HBR (Harvard Business Review) Blog by Greg McKeown called “Why We Humblebrag About Being Busy”.  The article is really about being an Essentialist.  It was quite insightful and actually gave me a definition for how I’ve been transforming my life over the past year.  I didn’t exactly have a name for the transformation I was going through, but after reading his article, it was remarkably spot on! 

Last year, I took three months off work to determine whether I was still pursuing the passions I had set out for myself when I first began my career.  After many years in Industry, I just wanted to make sure that I was still moving in the right direction.  After my hiatus, I strategically accepted a new role with less responsibilities in order to become an Essentialist.  I felt that with the constant churn, stress and lack of work-life balance, I simply wasn’t being true to myself.  I was working on things just for the sake of doing so or because I thought I needed to in order to grow my career.  Who does that?  Apparently, quite a few of us from the number of comments received on Greg’s blog. 

In most cases, we work really hard to continue to live above our means, which is what most call an enjoyable life.  Yes, I did say live above our means.  That may sound mundane to many, but it’s absolutely true.  Living above your means is not just about the amount of money you’re spending, but it’s also about your work-life balance.  At times we overload ourselves with so much work that it’s humanly impossible for us to be truly successful at any one thing.  Something always slips through the cracks or someone always gets hurt in the process.  

So I asked myself, am I really enjoying my 60+ hour work weeks?  At times, I had no idea whether I was coming or going.  Since they were getting what they wanted out of me, no one at work was going to stop me.  I lived to work, and did not work to live.  That was my norm for many years.  My family barely saw me and when they did, I was still working.  The other question I asked myself was, “For the sake of what?” Why am I doing this to myself?  What do I stand to gain from it all?  I guess I learned the hard way that your success is not ultimately defined by your own happiness but also the happiness of those that are invested in it.

How did I change?  I was determined to let go of the stress, migraines, unhealthy lifestyle…need I say more?  I wanted a job that was more flexible, easy and where my employer both understood and supported work-life balance.  That’s not easy to find.  However, it is exactly what I sought after as well as ensured that my interview questions were applicable to what I was seeking.  I’m not going to sugar-coat this in any way.  It took lots of courage to do what I’ve done, and along the way I received spiritual guidance and support from my family.  Please consider them when taking this step.  However, know that the battle isn’t over once you take the first step, it is a continual journey to maintain your essentialism.  Ambition and opportunity are your constant foes.  If you can successfully balance those two with the things that are most important to you, you’ll be all right.

~By Janette Braverman, Owner, Leaders Leaving Legacies, LLC (

2 thoughts on “Are you an Essentialist?

  1. This was a thought-provoking article that confirms my current state. Thank you for bringing confirmation at a time of self-reflection. I think it is healthy to remember these facts often because life always grants us options and it is our responsibility to count the cost. Asking ourselves why saying “no” is so hard is another potential indication of imbalance which some refer to as “approval addiction. Lastly, ambition and opportunity are indeed bedfellows, even when opportunity overshadows ambition it is wise to acknowledge them independently. Great read, Nina

    • Thank you so much for your thoughtful and powerful insight. You’ve definitely grasped the message that the blog intended to send and your words are validation that my blog met its goal! My personal goal is to ensure that every message I share is both genuine and real.

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