How To Choose The Essential Over The Urgent

Photo by  Alex Geerts  on  Unsplash

Photo by Alex Geerts on Unsplash

It’s officially fall, and the holidays are rapidly approaching. I like to think that “Fallidays” Jenn is the best version of me. I fill my days with all the cozy sweaters, pumpkin spice and festive celebrations that my schedule will allow. I spend time with my people, and I savor every minute.

Starting today.  

Simplify September is over, and as I look back on it, I realize that I didn’t enjoy much of last month. In all of my efforts to help others simplify, I made my own life more complicated and got away from the original mission of what I set out to do.

The goal of Simplify September was to slow down, scale back and take a deep breath; but the components of the project—the daily prompts, the meal plans, the capsule wardrobe and the workbook—left me feeling frantic and depleted.

Yet, I don’t look at Simplify September as a failure. I look at it as a lesson in essentialism.

Too often, we trade the essential for the for the urgent.

Simplify September was filled with “urgent” things like social media posts and photos, not the essentials of encouraging others to be more intentional in the way they live their lives—and demonstrating that quality in my own life.

So how do you differentiate the urgent from the essential? We must know ourselves well.

For me, the best thing to come out of Simplify September was defining my core values. About halfway through the month, when that familiar lump in my throat and heaviness in my chest returned because I was trying to DO ALL THE THINGS, I paused and wrote down what was most important to me: Knowing Jesus, loving others well, living with intentionality and being confident in who God made me.

When you know what’s most important to you, you can start to eliminate the things that don’t fall into those categories and make time for the things that do. But eliminating the urgent and creating space for the essentials doesn’t happen JUST by knowing ourselves and our core values.

Making time for the essential over the urgent requires rest and reflection.

This weekend, I turned things off and tuned things out. I sat in silence—and with my thoughts--on solitary car rides, while washing dishes and folding the laundry. And when I had an extra hour between events yesterday, I chose to talk with a women I barely knew instead of catching up on emails, texts and messages. After a month characterized by posting and responding and consuming, taking time to rest and reflect was life-giving.

This week, I’ll hop back online. I’ll answer the emails, write the posts, share the photos; but I won’t get lost in them. In October, if something feels forced or uncomfortable or if I’m dreading doing it, I’ll take some time to evaluate whether that thing is really in line with my core values and thus, absolutely essential.

While September may not have been the month I envisioned it being, 2018 isn’t over yet. Let’s make our goal for the rest of this year a TRULY SIMPLE one: Know who we are and live by those values.