The Undisciplined Pursuit of More

Have you ever considered the value of not wanting more but less, and then engaging in the disciplined pursuit of less? This is the message of a book I recently read, Essentialism by Greg McKeown.

At Aspire Planning Associates, we meet people from all walks of life. Some are financially wealthy, some are not, and a few are satisfied with where they are in life and do not want for much. I spend much of my professional and personal time trying to get both my clients and myself to the third position.

I can honestly tell you that as a youngster, I wanted more and not less. I’m not sure at what age I began to realize that I was not going to get the “more” that I wanted. I believe it was around the time that I hit the dreaded midlife crisis and started to experience the following (see how many apply to you):

  • I increased the font size on all my devices so I could read without glasses, then gave up and used reading glasses.
  • I went to bed before the late-night shows.
  • I took a lot longer to recover from brutal nights out with my friends.
  • My body took longer to recover from injury.
  • I found myself saying stuff I’ve heard before, like from my parents.
  • I didn’t recognize most of the songs on the radio.
  • I went to an event or to a party, looked around, and realized I was one of oldest, if not the oldest, person in attendance.

Essentialism and Your Goals

A large part of successful financial planning is to put yourself in situations where you have choices. As explained in McKeown’s book, essentialism is being in control of your choices and getting the right things done. Both are crucial factors in putting together a successful financial plan and realizing your goals.

Do we have to become essentialists to achieve our goals? No, but understanding and thoughtfully considering the consequences of the pursuit of more as we strive to attain our goals is important and improves our chances of success. Instead of thinking, “I need to do something,” choose to do something. Don’t react or, worse, overreact to what is most pressing. Instead, take the time to pause and discern what matters and say no to everything except the essential. Finally, don’t let yourself get overwhelmed and exhausted but, rather, experience the joy of the journey.

Mary Oliver, a poet, wrote: “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” By embracing the disciplined pursuit of less and casting aside the undisciplined pursuit of more, we can create a life worth living.