Essentialism as defined by Greg Mckeown in his book with that title, is the disciplined pursuit of less, or in other words it is doing what is absolutely necessary and extremely important. OK, that is a great idea, but how do I define what is absolutely necessary and extremely important.
Is this simply a matter of separating what I SHOULD be doing from what I WANT to be doing?
Is this another one of those "follow your passion" topics?
Come to think of it, who defines "should"? Why do we let others define "should" for us?
For those who are still struggling with the question, "Why am I here on this planet?", this can be a difficult exercise. For the purpose of this discussion I am going to assume that you understand God's plan of happiness and you know what you are doing on this earth.
With that as a foundation, now you can't simply separate your life into these two lists:
- What I should do (demands of others or demands that I imposed on myself based on my choices)
- What I what to do (my inner desires and passions)
There is a third column. It is "What will help me become". Let me explain it this way.
Read this statement from the definition of Prayer in the Bible Dictionary of the LDS edition of the scriptures:
"Prayer is the act by which the will of the Father and the will of the child are brought into correspondence with each other." (BD Prayer)
Pause and think about that process of bringing our will into correspondence with the will of the Father. What does correspondence mean? Of course one definition relates to exchanging letters, but the definition we are looking for is this one, "a close similarity, connection, or equivalence." The process of making our will similar or equivalent to the will of the Father is the path to becoming like our Father. The very thought of the magnitude of becoming like our heavenly father tends to fill our mind with with piles of personal "natural man" type baggage. We don't have to carry that baggage on the path to becoming. We can leave it on the side of the road.
As members of His church we have become programmed to create long lists of things we should do. We assume that getting back to our Heavenly Father is some kind of checklist. We all have this un-written list "should do's". As I reflect on this, I'm wondering if we perceive this incorrectly. Are we really trying to "get back" to Him? Or are we trying to "become" like him? There is a huge difference in this type of thinking. Consider this quote by President Kimball:
“I find that when I get casual in my relationships with divinity and when it seems that no divine ear is listening and no divine voice is speaking, that I am far, far away. If I immerse myself in the scriptures the distance narrows and the spirituality returns.” (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, ed. Edward L. Kimball, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1982, p. 135.)
Ask yourself, why is there a separation in the first place? What caused that separation? Was it really our negligence in checking off some of our "should do's" from this imaginary list of requirements for perfection? We allow ourselves to get confused between becoming and doing. The goal is to become something, not just to do something.
The other trap we may fall into is this idea of pursuing our passions. These items fall in the "what do I want to do". Here is the problem. This idea of pursuing your passions is good if you are specifically focusing on using your strengths to build the kingdom, but if you find yourself listening to the wrong voice, he will remind you that you that things of this world can only be bought with money. If you are seeking for things of this world, then you will need money. Things of eternal significance can't be bought with money. As we consider pursing our passions, we would be better served by asking our Father in Heaven questions related to our purpose, talents, and potential.
This exercise may be helpful. Get a piece of paper and make three columns (landscape mode) and label each column as follows:
Want to do
What will help me "Become"
Spend some time prayerfully and thoughtfully filling out this sheet.