“The way of the Essentialist isn’t about setting New Year’s resolutions to say “no” more, or about pruning your in-box, or about mastering some new strategy in time management. It is about pausing constantly to ask, “Am I investing in the right activities?” – Greg McKeown
Fear of missing out, lack of emotional intelligence, and a mindset of consumerism is forcing everyone to constantly want more, and with that the desire to take on additional assignments and high pressured jobs. The murky coalition that now exists between the forces of consumerism, mobile devices, and social media platforms ensures some inadvertent consequences – not all bad, but certainly a high degree of issues. Overcoming such a mindset is essential in all realms of life, but we will focus on the idea of ‘essentialism’ in an effort to build and advance one’s career.
It would be easy to hanker after better and multiple projects, jobs that require intense hours and even relocation, and other such ‘more’ actions in one’s job, in a bid to advance one’s career. Contractual employment, for example, is a term that such mindsets abhor and refuse to accept. It just isn’t ‘enough’ and does not sound ‘rushed and big’. In the bid to grab projects and assignments and other tasks, people tend to overlook and even negate the truly vital portions of their job / career. It would make more sense to carefully assess the opportunities that come along, understand deeply those that align to one’s objectives and goals, and ignore all those that do not match up to the current situation. This is the core of essentialism – and opposes the neglect of urgent and pressing objectives. The fact is that if someone is good at their job, and is viewed as being successful in their career opportunities and requests will abound – and without a clear focus on objectives, essentialism will be a lost cause.
Most people find it hard to let go, and this is more pronounced in the case of go-getters and high achievers. However, to be truly successful it is important to understand that is humanly impossible to do everything and also trying to please others is highly imprudent. Essentialism propagates that unless one is able to prioritize their own life, there will always be undue demands, which would end in someone else making life and career decisions for a person. It is all about balancing through trade-offs, since while some people may be able to pursue several things at one time, it seems highly unlikely that anyone person can pursue everything. High achievers, read as people who are successful would be those who strategically chose their objectives and pursued them with all their might. It is about choosing the best options and completely discarding the others. When looking at career building opportunities, many people tend to make the same mistake – not analyzing opportunities in alignment to their goals and objectives for lack of time or believing that every opportunity is a ‘golden one’. Remaining stuck within indecision wastes time and energy and can truly hamper growth and success in a person’s career, proving counter-intuitive to what a person would actually be moving towards.
Essentialism is about determining what is Essential
There are some techniques to understand what is essential:
Understand your own role and the impact it has on the goals of an organization. “Raise your hand” only for projects that meet the objectives of your own role and that of the organization.
Place all your assignments / projects / tasks within your role in a list, and assign them an urgent or important status, and proceed to complete them accordingly. Do this exercise regularly for both short term and annual goals.
Place your highest personal values alongside the culture of the organization. Take up assignments / projects that will forward the cause of both.
Ask for help / support where required. Not everyone has the leeway to firm up priorities of their job / career. If required, seek the help of a senior person / experienced individual to help prioritize. Identify time wasters and find ways to either eliminate or put them on automated mode.
Remain mindful and do what is most essential, to the cause of progressing your job and career, on a daily basis.
Push and stretch to become increasingly productive and effective in your job – not just becoming better at what you do, but also challenging the status quo. Of course, challenging what is should be done when you know exactly why it would be important to your role and despite going against the tide you would be able to garner support.
To move ahead in one’s career, whether in contractual employment or a permanent assignment, some changes are necessary to focus on what is truly important. Utilize new techniques to remove excesses and simplify processes, making it easier to stride towards that which would indeed be most critical to your career building and advancement.