What is Essential?


Pittsburgh has gotten the green light to move to the ‘green’ phase of reopening.  This means businesses of all sorts are allowed to reopen at limited capacity and following the CDC and PA Dept. of Health guidelines.  This means the start of a return to this [new] normal.  One quote that has been resonating with me and on my mind as we have gotten closer to our reopening has been this one: “In the rush to return to normal, use this time to consider which parts of normal are worth rushing back to” (credit to Dave Hollis).  This, along with the current book I’m reading called Essentialism, has me individually assessing each position I held in the normal before this and if it is something I want to return to and if so, how do I want it to be different for me in order to prioritize what is essential for me.

In the book, the author discusses the importance of narrowing down your priorities (the root of the word literally means ‘one’) and devoting most of your time and energy to those what he calls ‘vital few’.  So my question for myself (and I guess to ask yourself too) is to take time to reflect and decide what those vital few are.  What is worth going back to? Is there a job or responsibility that is being presented to you again and your response is something like ‘man, I really am not excited to go back to that’.  I challenge you to advocate for making those changes.  And I know that most people don’t have the financial resources to leave their jobs solely because they don’t like it – and I’m not saying you should.  I’m saying if there is a role or responsibility you have in that job that you don’t like, doesn’t motivate you as much, and/or you feel like you could make more/better contributions elsewhere in your company or position, be vocal about that.  Open up a conversation with your supervisor and make your proposition.  The short term ‘high’ of satisfying others by saying yes to everything and anything may not be there, but it will lead to more productivity, enjoyment, and respect from others.  That is a spark notes version of one of the concepts in the book so if you want to learn more about the concepts, I do recommend getting the book.

So that brings me to what this means for me.  And this is the section of this post where I ramble into my personal life so if your cup is full and you feel like you got valuable insight already and don’t care about me or my life, then stop reading.  If you want a personal example so you can follow one possible thought process or you just care about me and my life, continue on!

I’ve mentioned before my lack of ‘adult’ job and my hodgepodge ‘career’ of personal training quite a bit at the gym, babysitting some, and leisurely teaching paddleboarding and kayaking classes.  So now that each of these roles in opening back up in a new way, I have taken some time to think about where I stand and how I want to move forward with each of them.  Keep in mind that I have a part-time virtual position at a health start-up for financial security.

First, I will start with the paddleboarding and kayaking classes.  For these, I have decided to respectfully step down from my position as an instructor.  This would have been my third summer with them and I’ll be honest even before COVID, I was thinking about if I should return for another season.  The company is great and I love the people and culture, however, the responsibilities were getting redundant and I felt like I would not be able to offer as much energy and passion as I would have liked.  I will miss it, for sure, but I know this was the best decision for me.

As for babysitting, this was a definite ‘keep’.  I love the kiddos I babysit and I do not want to not have them in my lives.  I love the opportunity and ability to teach and shape the next generation as well as learn from them because kids are smart.  Also, I cannot go without running and playing with little kids because it is a huge energy and mood booster for me.  So that stays and I am excited to continue seeing them grow and being part of that journey.

This leads me to training at the gym.  I end with this one because I am still undecided honestly.  They just reached out to me today about their plans to open back up and so this one I need a day or two to process and decide what this is going to look like for me.  A big piece of my decision is related to if the families I babysit for are comfortable with me interacting with clients at the gym (since I established this as my priority, I want to be respectful of them).  I love training (obviously – that’s why I starting a training project online) so I want to go back.  The reason I’m not sure is the culture of the gym I train at and the ‘work harder, more, and see more clients to make more money’ mindset they push.  So I know that if I go back, I would cut back on hours there and focus more energy on being an awesome trainer for the few people I train.

So there is an example of how I am critically thinking about how this new normal will look like for me.  What are my ‘vital few’ passions that I want to hold on to and what are the opportunities that I can reasonably and respectfully share my unwillingness to return.  If you read through that, thanks for caring about me and my life!  I hope my example and written out thought process could provide more insight into this topic.  Cheers!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Enter your information below to receive email updates for new blog posts

Subscribe to Receive Blog Updates


Enter your information to receive updates each time a new resource is added!