Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown Book Review

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown Book review by a long term investor who has reached financial independence.

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown is a guide to achieving more by doing less. McKeown asserts that in today’s fast-paced world, many people find themselves stretched too thin, saying yes to every request and trying to do everything. Essentialism is the antidote to this constant state of overload. At its core, the book champions the philosophy of doing less, but better.

Verdict: Essentialism by Greg McKeown is well worth reading and is only a short book. The lessons learned from it that can be applied to your personal, professional and investing life are invaluable.

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Essentialism book review

Essentialism is a must-read for anyone in pursuit of a more intentional and purposeful life. The practical advice and insights shared by McKeown are invaluable for those looking to optimise their time and increase productivity. By implementing the principles in this book, you can learn to say no to the non-essential and focus on what truly matters. So, be sure to add Essentialism to your reading list today and start living a more intentional life.

essentialism book

By discerning what is truly essential and eliminating everything that is not, one can make the highest possible contribution. Through practical advice and real-world examples, McKeown outlines how to determine where one’s highest point of contribution lies, how to say ‘no’ gracefully, and how to create a routine that ensures we’re focused on the things that truly matter. It’s about living by design, not by default.

One of the main lessons from the book is that you don’t have to do it all. Often, we get caught up in trying to be everything to everyone, when in reality, this is not an effective way to live. McKeown argues that we need to recognise our limits and direct our energy towards the things that will provide the most significant return on investment. This principle can be applied to all aspects of life, including career, relationships, and personal goals.

To put it simply, Essentialism is about the disciplined pursuit of less. At a time when we’re bombarded with choices and distractions, McKeown provides an effective framework for making essential decisions. He emphasises the importance of creating a more conscious and deliberate approach to the life choices we make. The book essentially teaches you how to say no to the trivial tasks and focus on only those things that truly matter.

Another key concept in the book is the power of focus. In a world where we’re expected to be multitasking wizards, Essentialism highlights the value in giving ourselves permission to concentrate on one task and do it well. By focusing less on more, we can achieve greater results and reduce the mental clutter that comes with juggling multiple tasks at once.

McKeown also advocates for creating space in our lives. In a culture where busyness is often glorified, Essentialism encourages us to take a step back and allow for reflection, using a more selective criteria for what is actually essential. The more we fill our lives with things, the less room we have for growth, creativity, and new opportunities. By creating space in our lives, we can open ourselves up to new possibilities and experiences.

Finally, the book challenges us to be more intentional with our own choices. Essentialism argues that we need to stop living on autopilot with the core assumption that we can do it all, and start actively making decisions that align with our values and goals. By taking a more mindful approach to our lives, we can cultivate better relationships, make more significant contributions at work, and live a more fulfilling life.

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less
  • Hardcover Book
  • McKeown, Greg (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 272 Pages - 04/15/2014 (Publication Date) - Crown Currency (Publisher)

Application of Essentialism to Financial Independence and Retiring Early

If you’re someone who’s in pursuit of financial independence and planning to retire at an early age, you’re constantly striving to find ways to optimise your time and increase your productivity. One area that often goes overlooked is learning to prioritise and cut out the non-essential aspects of your life, the relentless pursuit for more. This is where the book Essentialism by Greg McKeown comes in handy.

Retiring early is a dream for many, but the path to get there can be overwhelming. With a seemingly infinite number of options and distractions, it’s hard to know which ones will bring us closer to our goals, and which ones should be cut out. In Essentialism, Greg McKeown offers a solution to this problem – a mindset that helps us focus on what truly matters and eliminate everything else.

The first step to achieving financial independence is to know what you want in life. Essentialism encourages readers to identify what’s truly important to them and to focus on those things. By getting clear on our priorities, we can eliminate the distractions that prevent us from achieving our goals. McKeown argues that we should strive for a minimalist lifestyle – cutting out non-essential expenses and commitments that drain our time and resources. By doing so, we free up more resources to invest in the things that matter most to us – such as investing for our retirement. With a clear understanding of our priorities, we can create financial plans that align with our goals and put us on the path to financial independence.

Another way that Essentialism can help us achieve financial independence is by teaching us to say no. McKeown encourages readers to be ruthless in prioritizing their time and energy. By saying no to non-essential commitments, we open up more time and energy to invest in the things that are truly important to us. In terms of finances, this means saying no to unnecessary expenses and investments that don’t align with our long-term goals. By being intentional about where we put our resources, we can accelerate our progress towards financial independence.

essentialism reviews

In Essentialism, McKeown emphasizes the importance of focus. By focusing on what we truly want, we can accomplish more in less time. This is especially important when it comes to investing for retirement. Time is one of the most powerful tools in the investor’s toolbox – by starting early and consistently saving and investing, we can take advantage of the power of compounding. However, to do this effectively, we must be focused on our long-term goals and resist the temptation to chase short-term gains or fads such as the Crypto and NFT distractions we have seen boom and bust. Essentialism offers readers a framework for staying focused on what truly matters.

McKeown also encourages readers to take breaks and recharge, after all, WE are our wisest possible investment! In the pursuit of financial independence and early retirement, it’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and grind. However, Essentialism reminds us that rest and recharge are essential to our well-being and productivity. By taking care of ourselves, we can invest more of ourselves in the pursuit of our goals. This means taking time to relax, exercise, pursue hobbies, and connect with loved ones. Investing in our personal well-being is an essential component of any financial plan – reminding us that it’s okay to spend on holidays, self-care activities and hobbies (even if that means FIRE’ing a week later!)

“It isn’t about getting more done in less time. It’s about getting only the right things done.”

Greg McKeown
greg mckeown

You can check out the Greg McKeown Podcast HERE too.

Captain FI’s takeaway

Essentialism by Greg McKeown is one of the best books that I have read lately, which is all about prioritizing the ‘essentials’ over the daily noise. He makes some brilliant points, which I have been trying to apply to my life and my website business by cutting down on clutter and red tape, and overall just trying to simplify processes.

Instead of forcing things, I am trying to just sit back and gently guide the flow of things – tapping them back into the right direction when they go off track.

One way I apply this is by really focusing on empowering my contractors to manage themselves and for me to personally ‘step back’ to avoid micromanaging or getting down into the weeds. This has been working really well, especially with things like podcasts, content and social media production with my team of Writers, Editors and Virtual Assistants.

Rather than stressing about efficiency, maximising production and erking out the most deliverables per hour with detailed work flows and guides, I have instead been setting clear top level deliverables for production and quality, and stepping back. I have also begun ‘gently tapping’ in the direction of upskilling, educating, and transitioning some of the team to roles with more responsibilities and pay.

In my personal life, from this I have also had a renewed interest in minimalism (which is basically essentialism) and took to a strong declutter, letting go of old possessions and some mementos that I didn’t really need to keep.

Given the recent loss of my mum and now my close friend, I have stopped ‘saving things’, i.e. we have a few bottles of wine worth a couple of hundred bucks each in the cabinet that we had been saving for special occasions, and instead we have been enjoying them at the next opportunity.

It might also sound like a weird thing to do, but I also have been keeping this candle I love the smell of, but haven’t been using it. So we started burning it. My thought process is, that it’s nice to be able to focus on enjoying things rather than saving them for some future date that might not even come!

You can check out Greg McKeown’s speech on Essentialism on YouTube below:


In conclusion, Essentialism offers readers a powerful framework for achieving financial independence and retiring early. By focusing on what truly matters, saying no to distractions, staying focused on long-term goals, and taking care of ourselves, we can pave the path to financial freedom. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and unsure about how to achieve your financial goals, Essentialism might be the mindset shift you need to make rapid progress. It takes courage to make a change, but give it a read and see how it can change your life for the better!

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