If you feel a little overwhelmed in life,
read these 93+ amazing quotes from the book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less.
I guarantee you won’t be disappointed by Greg McKeown.
But who’s Greg McKeown?
- He’s a public speaker and author
- He sold 1 million copies of Essentialism
- He has written 2 New York Times bestsellers: “Effortless” and “Essentialism”
- He’s a podcast host (ranked top 5 of all Self Improvement podcasts, out of 11,000)
But most of all, he has dedicated his professional life to uncovering counterintuitive ways to be very successful – without burning out.
I’ve decided to read this book (again) and create this list since it contains so many lessons on:
- and more!
As a minimalist, this book speaks to my core.
I hope you’ll enjoy these quotes as much as I did.
P.S. Also check out the summary at the end.
The Best Quotes From Essentialism
If you don’t prioritize your life, someone else will. Greg McKeown
If it isn’t a clear yes, then it’s a clear no. Greg McKeown
When we really have clarity of purpose, it enables us to succeed at our endeavor. Greg McKeown
The reality of trade-offs: We can’t have it all or do it all. Greg McKeown
What if we stopped celebrating being busy as a measurement of importance? What if instead we celebrated how much time we had spent listening, pondering, meditating, and enjoying time with the most important people in our lives. Greg McKeown
Many capable people are kept from getting to the next level of contribution because they can’t let go of the belief that everything is important. Greg McKeown
The best asset we have for making a contribution to the world is ourselves. Greg McKeown
See what really matters. Greg McKeown
Almost everything is noise, and a very few things are exceptionally valuable. Greg McKeown
To become an Essentialist requires a heightened awareness of our ability to choose. Greg McKeown
If you believe being overly busy and overextended is evidence of productivity, then you probably believe that creating space to explore, think, and reflect should be kept to a minimum. Greg McKeown
Essentialism: Only once you give yourself permission to stop trying to do it all, to stop saying yes to everyone, can you make your highest contribution towards the things that really matter. Greg McKeown
Three core truths: “I choose to,” “Only a few things really matter,” and “I can do anything but not everything. Greg McKeown
We can choose how to spend our energy and time. Greg McKeown
What Is Essentialism? What is an Essentialist?
The way of the Essentialist is the relentless pursuit of less but better. Greg McKeown
Focusing on the essentials is a choice. It is your choice. That in itself is incredibly liberating. Greg McKeown
Essentialism is a systematic discipline for discerning what is absolutely essential, then eliminating everything that is not. Greg McKeown
Anytime you fail to say ‘no’ to a nonessential, you are really saying yes by default. Greg McKeown
This book is not about going back to some simpler time. It’s not about eschewing email or disconnecting from the Web or living like a hermit. That would be backwards movement. It is about applying the principles of ‘less but better’ to how we live our lives now and in the future. That is innovation. Greg McKeown
Non-essentialist thinks that making things better means adding something. Essentialist thinks that making things better means subtracting something. Greg McKeown
Essentialism is not one more thing — it’s a whole new way of doing everything. Greg McKeown
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Essentialism is not about how to get more things done; it’s about how to get the right things done. Greg McKeown
We overvalue nonessentials like a nicer car or house, or even intangibles like the number of our followers on Twitter or the way we look in our Facebook photos. As a result, we neglect activities that are truly essential, like spending time with our loved ones, or nurturing our spirit, or taking care of our health. Greg McKeown
The Essentialist designs a routine that makes achieving what you have identified as essential the default position. Greg McKeown
The way of the Essentialist means living by design, not by default. Greg McKeown
Instead of making choices reactively, the Essentialist deliberately distinguishes the vital few from the trivial many, eliminates the non-essentials, and then removes obstacles so the essential things have clear, smooth passage. Greg McKeown
Instead of trying to accomplish it all — and all at once — and flaring out, the Essentialist starts small and celebrates progress. Greg McKeown
A non-Essentialist thinks almost everything is essential. An Essentialist thinks almost everything is non-essential. Greg McKeown
The way of the Essentialist is the path to being in control of our own choices. It is a path to new levels of success and meaning. It is the path on which we enjoy the journey, not just the destination. Greg McKeown
In many ways, to live as an Essentialist in our too-many-things-all-the-time society is an act of quiet revolution. Greg McKeown
An Essentialist produces more — brings forth more — by removing more instead of doing more. Greg McKeown
Essentialists accept they cannot be popular with everyone all of the time. Greg McKeown
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Deep And Inspiring Quotes From Essentialism
When you say yes to something nonessential, you are saying no to something essential. Greg McKeown
When we forget our ability to choose, we learn to be helpless. Drip by drip we allow our power to be taken away until we end up becoming a function of other people’s choices — or even a function of our own past choices. Greg McKeown
When we don’t purposefully and deliberately choose where to focus our energies and time, other people — our bosses, our colleagues, our clients, and even our families — will choose for us, and before long we’ll have lost sight of everything that is meaningful and important. Greg McKeown
Instead of making just a millimeter of progress in a million directions he began to generate tremendous momentum towards accomplishing the things that were truly vital. Greg McKeown
To operate at your highest level of contribution requires that you deliberately tune in to what is important in the here and now. Greg McKeown
The result is that by investing in fewer things we have the satisfying experience of making significant progress in the things that matter most. Greg McKeown
Play doesn’t just help us to explore what is essential. It is essential in and of itself. Greg McKeown
Success can distract us from focusing on the essential things that produce success in the first place. Greg McKeown
Of all forms of human motivation the most effective one is progress. Greg McKeown
Quotes About Health, Mental Health, and Sleep from Essentialism
We need to eliminate multiple meaningless activities and replace them with one very meaningful activity. Greg McKeown
Highly creative people use strict routines to free up their minds. Greg McKeown
Every second spent worrying about a past or future moment distracts us from what is important in the here and now. Greg McKeown
To discern what is truly essential we need space to think, time to look and listen, permission to play, wisdom to sleep, and the discipline to apply highly selective criteria to the choices we make. Greg McKeown
The second most important factor differentiating the best violinists from the good violinists was actually sleep. The best violinists slept an average of 8.6 hours in every twenty-four-hour period: about an hour longer than the average American. Greg McKeown
If we underinvest in ourselves, and by that I mean our minds, our bodies, and our spirits, we damage the very tool we need to make our highest contribution. Greg McKeown
The right routines can actually enhance innovation and creativity by giving us the equivalent of an energy rebate. Greg McKeown
Essentialist thinks 1) Sleep is for high performers 2) Sleep is a priority 3) Sleep breeds creativity. Greg McKeown
Sleep will enhance your ability to explore, make connections, and do less but better throughout your waking hours. Greg McKeown
Sleep is what allows us to operate at our highest level of contribution so that we can achieve more, in less time. Greg McKeown
Non-essentialist thinks sleep gets in the way of “doing it all”. Essentialist thinks sleep enables the highest levels of mental contribution. Greg McKeown
Becoming an Essentialist means making cutting, condensing, and correcting a natural part of our daily routine — making editing a natural cadence in our lives. Greg McKeown
There is a huge body of scientific research to explain the mechanism by which routine enables difficult things to become easy. Greg McKeown
Quotes About Prioritizing, Decisions, and Saying No from Essentialism
Non-essentialist: Says yes to everything. Essentialist: Says yes only to the things that really matter. Greg McKeown
Done right, a strategic intent is really one decision that makes 1,000 decisions. Greg McKeown
In reality there are only a few things of exceptional value, with almost everything else being of far less importance. Greg McKeown
When we push back effectively, it shows people that our time is highly valuable. It distinguishes the professional from the amateur. Greg McKeown
The Latin root of the word decision — cis or cid — literally means “to cut” or “to kill”. Greg McKeown
You’ll learn how to make executing the right things – the essential things – as easy and frictionless as possible. Greg McKeown
The way of the Essentialist rejects the idea that we can fit it all in. Instead, it requires us to grapple with real trade-offs and make tough decisions. Greg McKeown
We can either make our choices deliberately or allow other people’s agendas to control our lives. Greg McKeown
The more we think about what we are giving up when we say yes to someone, the easier it is to say no. Greg McKeown
Once you’ve figured out which activities and efforts to keep in your life, you have to have a system for executing them. Greg McKeown
If your manager comes to you and asks you to do X, you can respond with “Yes, I’m happy to make this the priority. Which of these other projects should I deprioritise to pay attention to this new project?” Greg McKeown
We have lost our ability to filter what is important and what isn’t. Psychologists call this ‘decision fatigue’: the more choices we are forced to make, the more the quality of our decisions deteriorates. Greg McKeown
[Essentialism] doesn’t mean just doing less for the sake of less either. It is about making the wisest possible investment of your time and energy in order to operate at your highest point of contribution by doing only what is essential. Greg McKeown
Sometimes what you don’t do is just as important as what you do. Greg McKeown
The reality is, saying yes to any opportunity by definition requires saying no to several others. Greg McKeown
An Essentialist has the courage and confidence to admit his or her mistakes and uncommit, no matter the sunk costs. Greg McKeown
The next stage in the Essentialist process, eliminating the non-essentials, means taking on the role of an editor in your life and leadership. Greg McKeown
Instead of focusing on the efforts and resources we need to add, the Essentialist focuses on the constraints or obstacles we need to remove. Greg McKeown
Instead of going for the big, flashy wins that don’t really matter, the Essentialist pursues small and simple wins in areas that are essential. Greg McKeown
Just because I was invited didn’t seem a good enough reason to attend. Greg McKeown
Greg McKeown, the author of Essentialism, asks great questions throughout the book.
These will help you clarify what’s essential from what’s not.
Here are the best ones.
If we could be truly excellent at only one thing, what would it be? Greg McKeown
Essentialism is about pausing constantly to ask, “Am I investing in the right activities?” Greg McKeown
How can we make doing the vital few things almost effortless?
How can we cut out the trivial many? Greg McKeown
Before saying yes to anything, ask yourself, “Will this activity or effort make the highest possible contribution towards my goal?” Greg McKeown
Essentialists see trade-offs as an inherent part of life, not as an inherently negative part of life. Instead of asking, “What do I have to give up?” they ask, “What do I want to go big on?” The cumulative impact of this small change in thinking can be profound. Greg McKeown
To uncover your true priorities, ask yourself, “What will I say no to?” Greg McKeown
Is this the very most important thing I should be doing with my time and resources right now? Greg McKeown
How often do you say yes simply to please? Or to avoid trouble? Or because “yes” had just become your default response. Greg McKeown
What are all the obstacles standing between me and getting this done? Greg McKeown
What is the smallest amount of progress that will be useful and valuable to the essential task we are trying to get done? Greg McKeown
Tom Stafford describes a simple antidote to the endowment effect. Instead of asking, “How much do I value this item?” we should ask, “If I did not own this item, how much would I pay to obtain it?” Greg McKeown
Instead of looking for the most obvious or immediate obstacles, they look for the ones slowing down progress. They ask, “What is getting in the way of achieving what is essential?” Greg McKeown
If I wasn’t already involved in this project, how hard would I work to get on it?” Greg McKeown
What’s important now? Greg McKeown
Once we accept the reality of trade-offs we stop asking, “How can I make it all work?” and start asking the more honest question “Which problem do I want to solve?” Greg McKeown
Ask three questions: “What do I feel deeply passionate about/inspired by?” and “What am I particularly talented at?” and “What meets a significant need in the world?” Greg McKeown
If you could do only one thing with your life right now, what would you do? Greg McKeown
Clarity is the key to empowerment. Greg McKeown
Summary – What are the key points of Essentialism?
- The book Essentialism is about focusing and doing the right things
- It’s about letting go of almost everything else
- It’s about learning to say no
- It’s about choosing
- It’s about taking your life under control when you feel overwhelmed
- It’s about prioritizing what truly matters if your life: your health, your people, your projects
- It’s about becoming your best version, by focusing on the essential
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- 9-minute interview with Greg McKeown and Matt D’Avella on YouTube
- Learn about Greg McKeown on his website, Wikipedia, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube
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I hope you enjoyed these quotes from the book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit Of Less.
If you did, please share them with a friend today who could benefit from more essentialism in his/her life!