Recently, I joined the launch teams for two upcoming books–one by Jess Connely and one by Holley Gerth. I will talk about each of those books in future posts–two different posts, because it wouldn’t be fair to make them share–but today I want to talk about the fact that guys, I signed up to two different launch teams!
That’s a big deal, and here’s why: until recently, I would have seen the invitation to apply and thought to myself, “Wow, I wish I could do that, but there’s no way. I’m just too busy,” and let the opportunity pass me by. But this time I was able to respond to each invitation with a resounding YES without any hesitation or guilt.
So what’s changed?
The short version is, I’ve stopped giving so much of my time and capacity to unnecessary things. I’ve been working on not only clearing the physical clutter from my life, but also the mental and emotional clutter. And that has left me with more time and energy for things that really matter to me, things I really want to do, like getting to say yes to reading advance copies of books from amazing authors and helping to publicize them.
This is a shift that’s been happening in my life for a while now–for at least the past year–and this summer I’m starting to see a lot of fruit from my efforts to pare down my life to what’s essential. And now I want to tell you about some books that helped me get here.
Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown – This is the essential book on essentialism, which, in a nut shell, is the discipline of saying no to the things that aren’t actually important and get in the way of your goals so that you can say yes to the things that actually matter. The book deep dives into what that looks like and also how it can make your life both saner and more productive–like how not being pulled in a million different directions actually makes it easier to focus on the important tasks–as well as how to discern what is actually important from what isn’t and how to say no when it’s not. It comes down to understanding that everything is a trade off. Every time we choose to give our time or energy to something, we’re choosing to ignore something else. And if we don’t consciously decide which things to say yes or no to, other people will decide for us.
A Million Little Ways by Emily P. Freeman – I first read this book last year, and at the
time I devoured it as quickly as I could. I’ve been re-reading it this summer, and this time I’m taking my time with it, sitting with it and taking time to slowly process each new idea. Overall, this is a book about uncovering the art we were each uniquely designed to make with our lives in order to bring glory to our Maker. But there is a section on putting first things first that made me realize I’ve been giving priority to second things. There’s a quote from C.S. Lewis about this in the book and I’m going to go ahead and share it here:
Put first things first and we get second things thrown in; put second things first and we lose both first and second things.
I know when I let secondary things take over, I end up too tired and burned out to do anything. But when I put what really matters first–give it the first of my time, energy and focus–I not only have enough capacity left over for whichever secondary things are actually needed, but also better perspective to discern whether they are indeed actually needed.
Which brings us to…
The Renaissance Soul by Margaret Lobenstine – I just read this one last weekend. This is a book for anyone still struggling to answer the question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” It’s a helpful guide for those struggling to settle on one career or vocation because you have so many different passions and interests. Maybe you’re like me. I’ve always known I wanted to be a novelist. I know I will always be a novelist. But I don’t and have never only wanted to be a novelist–I have at times also wanted to be a web designer, a graphic designer, a freelance writer, a professional crafter, an editor, a musician, a psychologist, a nutritionist, a marketing professional, a career academic, a college professor, and probably some other things I’m forgetting. And I have actually been (and still am) some of those things at times.
This book gives practical advise on how to not only identify and narrow down which passions actually fit into your life in the current season you’re in, but also how to organize your life to make room for them. But one exercise I found particularly helpful was one that involved writing down everything currently on my plate that’s demanding my time and attention and identifying which of those things help to further my goals and which actually serve to further the goals of others, even if it’s just perceived goals, even if the “others” in question is just the mean boss in your own head. In other words, which tasks are done solely to please other people, and what needs to happen for me to stop giving my energy to those things?
One thing that stood out on my list was book marketing tasks that I don’t enjoy and that don’t actually do anything to help me connect with readers and sell books. I’ve been doing them solely to please my publisher, or because authors are “supposed to” do these things. So I’m just not doing them anymore. That alone has freed up a ton of time and energy that I can devote to things that matter–like saying yes to book launch team invitations and reading books that can help make all our lives more enjoyable and sane. 😉
What about you guys? What are you saying no to so that you can say yes to what matters? And have you read any life-changing–or just super-useful–books lately? Let’s chat in the comments! ♥