It’s not enough to simply determine which activities and efforts don’t make the best possible contribution. You still have to actively eliminate those that do not.
Greg McKeown does a deep dive into elimination in his book Essentialism. Getting rid of those old clothes isn’t easy. After all, there is still that nagging reluctance, that nagging fear that “what if” years down the road you come to regret giving away that blazer with the big shoulder pads and loud pinstripes. This feeling is normal. Studies have found that we tend to value things we already own more highly than they are worth, and thus find them more difficult to get rid of.
If you’re not quite ready to part with that metaphorical blazer, ask the killer question: “If I didn’t already own this, how much would I spend to buy it?” Likewise, in your life, the killer question when deciding what activities to eliminate is: “If I didn’t have this opportunity, what would I be willing to do to acquire it?”
When making decisions, deciding to cut options can be terrifying—but the truth is, it is the very essence of decision making. In fact: The Latin root of the word decision—cis or cid—literally means “to cut” or “to kill.”
You can see this in words like scissors or homicide. Since ultimately, having fewer options actually makes a decision “easier”.
Every cut produces joy—maybe not in the moment but afterwards — when we realize that every additional moment we have gained can be spent on something better.
It is easier to think of execution in terms of addition rather than subtraction. We just keep adding: more marketing, more agents, more budgeted dollar, etc. Instead of focusing on the efforts and resources we need to add, the Essentialist focuses on the obstacles we need to remove.
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