As a designer of handbags with a background in fashion design, it’s easy for me to focus on the exterior of the product I’m creating. In general, when shopping for that perfect bag, we have to love its outer appearance before picking it up and looking inside. Focusing on Essentialism this month brings to mind just how important the interior of our handbag is. It securely holds the items we need with us daily and keeps them safe. For a moment, let your bag and its contents be a reminder of these Essentialism concepts to help find not only your handbag essentials, but life essentials:
What are your handbag essentials? If you were to empty out your purse right now, could you honestly say every item you carried served a necessary purpose to get you through the day? Perhaps you’re dumping your bag out right now to find a mix of contents deemed essential and nonessential? To become an essentialist, you must take the time to decide what’s essential versus non-essential.
When it comes to following our True North and aligning our souls, I think dumping out and sorting through our handbag items is a perfect metaphor. Emptying out that bag is like your soul taking one step further towards its True North. It might sound cheesy that a clean, organized purse would be the direction of our internal compass, but let’s just make that the symbol of our True North. As we divide our contents between these two categories, we’re having an honest conversation with ourselves deciding what’s essential and what’s non-essential junk. We should also be having the same internal conversation when it comes to aligning our souls. What is essential for following your True North? Do these non-essentials hinder your soul’s alignment? Much like the extra junk in your bag that weighs you down, the same could be said about the non-essentials weighing down your soul.
How do you stay mindful of what you take on your journey? As you go through the contents of your handbag, deciding upon what stays and what leaves, an essentialist would point out that you’re being selective to get you to your ultimate goal, a clean, organized purse. How difficult is it to be selective with these items? Too often we get caught up in the “what if’s.” What if it rains tomorrow and I need my umbrella? What if my appointment runs over and I get hungry? That protein bar has to be in there. These “what if” situations remind me of our fear in life of saying “no.” With Essentialism, we can’t be afraid to say no to get to our ultimate yes. Just like we need to be mindful of what an umbrella and snacks do to the organization and cleanliness of our bags, we need to be mindful of what we take on during our everyday journeys does to our souls. Do you no longer have time to focus on your True North due to the requests and priorities of others? Is there a toxic person in your life taking your soul out of alignment? If you did say “no” instead of reluctantly saying “yes,” how much better would you feel?
Perhaps if we start small and conquer these “what if’s” we’ll have the courage to say “no” when it truly counts. Part of being mindful means weighing the consequences of our actions. Let’s say you take that umbrella out of your purse and it rains tomorrow. If your priority was a lighter bag, does that outweigh getting a little wet? Take and apply this mindset to another aspect of your life. If you say no to someone with a request that’s going to take time and energy away from your ultimate priority, does that person’s short term disappointment get in the way of your ultimate contribution?
What you will say no to? What will you say yes to? This answer is different for everyone. Using the third step of Essentialism, it’s about creating a system that makes executing what’s essential as effortless as possible. In regards to your purse and handbag essentials, your system could be set up around those contents you use most frequently. It’s easy to throw those keys back in your bag because you know you leave home locking the door everyday and then drive to work. You know you wear those sunglasses three out of five days a week making them a handbag essential and it’s an easy decision that they go back in the bag. In saying yes to only the items you regularly use you’re also making it easier on yourself by not creating those “what if” scenarios, leading to that elusive organised handbag at the same time. Applying a system like this in real life is a little more complex. You need to define your True North first and decide what’s essential to stay on that path. From there, you can create a process to help you easily achieve execution. If you’re determined to follow your True North and align your soul, essentialism won’t be a difficult mindset to grasp because so many of the same principles apply.
With all my soul,