When we’re failing to do the things that are most important in our lives, the typical diagnosis of the problem is to believe we’re simply not working hard enough, and the typical solution to the problem is to put in more effort, apply more discipline, and grind it out.
My guest would say that we’re thinking about both the root and the remedy of the issue in the wrong way. His name is Greg McKeown, and he’s the author of the bestseller Essentialism, as well as his latest book, Effortless: Make It Easier to Do What Matters Most. Today on the show, Greg shares how he came to realize that life isn’t just about focusing on the essentials, but making those essential things the easy things. We discuss why it is that we commonly make things harder than they need to be, and how while the right thing can be hard, just because something is hard, doesn’t make it the right thing. We then discuss the role that emotions like gratitude play in making things feel more effortless, why you need to have a clear vision of what being done looks like (including having a Done for the Day list), how to overcome the difficulty of getting started with things through microbursts of action, and how to keep going with them using a sustainable pace marked by upper and lower bounds. We end our conversation with how seeking an effortless state applies to one’s spiritual life. Along the way, Greg shares stories from history and his own life as to what it means to get to your goals using a more effortless path.
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- What led Greg to exploring this topic of effort and essentialism
- What do you do when there isn’t room for all the big rocks?
- Why do we make things harder than they need to be?
- Why it’s especially important to have a clear vision of what “done” looks like
- The value of a “Done for the Day” list
- How a micro-burst of productivity can change everything
- Keeping life and work from getting overly complex
- The benefits of a slow and steady pace
- The philosophy and spirituality that undergirds this idea of effortlessness
Resources/Articles/People Mentioned in Podcast
- My first interview with Greg about Essentialism
- Put the Big Rocks in First
- Limiting Your Choices
- My interview with Patrick McGinnis
- Motivation Over Discipline
- Be Less Disciplined
- Get More Done With the Rule of 3
- What’s Your 20 Mile March?
Connect With Greg
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