The essentialist life awaits you.
Below is a list of resources that have not only shaped my method for alignment, but have also helped me in my personal and professional life. I update this list on a regular basis. Send me an email if you find anything particularly helpful, or have a resource you think I should add to my list.
Here is a sampling of worksheets I use to help my clients clarify their objectives, edit the excess, and develop strategies to meet their goals.
LIVING FORWARD by Michael Hyatt and David Harkavy
The premise of this book is simple, yet powerful: our time on this earth is limited. Without a life plan, we are prone to wasting time and drifting. Hyatt and Harkavy’s book helped me snap out of “reactive mode,” and become more deliberate in my personal and professional life.
DEEP WORK by Cal Newport
I always had the nagging sense that I was too distracted. I would sit down to work; then after a few minutes I’d check my phone, or Facebook or my email or Instagram or…..You get the idea. Then I read Cal Newport’s book. Newport helped me see that I was wasting my time on shallow, meaningless tasks at the expense of concentrated, productive work. Thanks to this book, I’ve overhauled my work habits, and not only do I feel far more productive, but I also feel like I have a lot more time for my family, exercise and leisure.
DESIGNING YOUR LIFE by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans
In this book, Stanford School of Design Professors Burnett and Evans use their unique design approach to help their readers consciously create the lives they want. What I love most about this book is their nuanced, concrete, playful and refreshingly “out-of-the-box” perspective on change. This book will be especially helpful if you want to make a career change or if you are wrestling with a big decision.
ESSENTIALISM by Greg McKeown
“Less but better!” This phrase, coined by the German Industrial Designer Dieter Rams, is the central tenet of this book. McKeown argues that our lives are filled with junk, both literally and figuratively. He makes a case for living a life filled with craftsmanship and quality. I try to stay away from grand statements, but his book has .
CO-ACTIVE COACHING by Henry Kimsey-House, Karen Kimsey-House, Phillip Sandahl and Laura Whitworth
Read this book if you want to get a better sense of how I work with my clients. One of the central points of the co-active coaching method, which is based on the principles of positive psychology, is that people are competent, smart and resourceful. Given this premise, a coach’s job is not to fix people or their problems. Instead, she guides her clients in the process of rediscovering their unique strengths and enables them to overcome the unique obstacles they face. I value the co-active approach as it fosters resilience rather than dependency.
YOUR MONEY OR YOUR LIFE by Joe Dominguez and Vicki Robin
An oldie, but a goodie. I read this book a long time ago. It taught me to be smart about money. Not smart in the sense of super investment strategies. Rather, I learned to think about dollars in terms of life hours. From this perspective, I started being more strategic about how I spent my time and money. For instance, I realized that it did not make sense to work hard to make a lot of money if I ended up so stressed out that I needed to take very expensive vacations to relax. Alternately, being frugal gave me a lot more flexibility to pursue my passions.
WRITING YOUR DISSERTATION IN FIFTEEN MINUTES A DAY by Joan Bolker
This book tricked me. I bought it because I had a serious case of writer's block. I read the title and thought, “Yeah, I think I can just about manage 15 minutes of writing.” Then I opened the book and it quickly became apparent that the title was a ruse. I would have to write more than 15 minutes a day if I wanted to finish my dissertation in this century. Luckily, I kept on reading. The book taught me valuable lessons on the power of small and manageable, yet steady efforts. Definitely a must read for anyone struggling to finish a large (writing) project.
OVERWHELMED by Brigid Schulte
As soon as I heard Brigid Schulte’s interview on Fresh Air, I knew I had to buy her book. This book is for mothers who think they can have it all and then slam against the wall when they realize that it’s just not possible. Schulte is astute, honest and funny. Her analysis is systemic and wide-reaching, something that warms my sociologist’s heart.
audio for alignment
Cal Newport’s approach to productivity informs a lot of my work. To learn more about his view on deep work, listen to this interview.
I talk a lot about the importance of 'essentialism.' But what does that actually mean? Listen to this short interview with Greg McKeown to learn more about this important concept. And then read his book.
Michael Hyatt presents a wealth of information. Check out this great podcast on goal setting.
Got a free minute? Check your email. Commuting to work? Listen to a podcast. We live in a culture that is intolerant of empty space. We keep ourselves busy at all times and mistakenly believe we are being productive. And yet, empty space is essential to creative productivity. No idea what I’m talking about? Listen to this fascinating interview.
Want to know more about how to design your life? Listen to this interview with Debbie Millman. I got the idea for one of my favorite exercises--namely "Your Ideal day in 10 Years" from this interview. Millman offers some keen insights into the decision-making process and provides other useful exercises to help you design your life.
Our collective addiction to digital devices and social media represents one of the biggest impediments we face in trying to live a deliberate and effective life. In this interview, NYU professor Adam Alter explains how tech companies design their products to be highly addictive.
The first thing I have my clients do is eliminate the non-essential from their to-do list. Next up: delegate. It's perfectly ok to hire some help, if that's something you can afford In fact, investing in some support is a great investment as it very well might make you a happier person. Check out this NPR story on the value of freeing up your time.
Videos worth watching
I’m a big fan of decluttering the physical spaces that I live and work in. Check out this inspirational TED talk by Graham Hill.
Kids also deserve the essentialist life, a life that plays to their strengths and shelters them from junk. Sir Ken Robinson's TED Talk about the future of education is deeply inspiring.
Sick of your addiction to digital devices? This radical TedTalk might inspire you to make some big changes.
If I had to choose the one bit of advice that has most changed my relationship with my kids, it’s this.
Living in a monastery with Thich Nhat Hanh in my early 20s I learned a lot of things that continue to guide me. One thing he always said is that if you take care of the present moment, everything else will resolve itself. Here is an article in the NYT that supports this insight, explaining why it's so important to focus on the present moment, even when it comes to your career ambitions.
I don’t know about you, but I find it hard to sift through all the dietary “information” out there. I am committed to eating a healthy diet, but what does that mean in this age of information overload? Should I go paleo? Will an anti-inflamatory diet cure all that ails me? Will a whole-foods plant-based diet make me feel 20 again? I rely heavily on Monica Reinagel to sift through nutritional and health hype and give me down-to-earth and science-based answers to my nutritional questions. Check out her website, podcast and her 30 Day Nutrition Upgrade program.
Between my three kids and my work, I don’t have much time to work out. Yet my physical well-being is the foundation for everything else that’s important in my life. That’s why this 30-20-10 training program has been a real game changer for me. I use this nifty little fitness app to guide me through my interval sessions.
One of the things I’ve noticed throughout my years coaching professionals, is that most of us are actually woefully unaware or off the mark when it comes to really knowing what will actually make us happy. Want to learn more? Read this Harvard Business Review post on “Happiness Traps.”
Waste, in all its manifestations, is the product of non-essential activities. Mr. Money Mustache masterfully teaches people how to stop wasting money and start essentializing their spending habits.