“People think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means at all. It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are. You have to pick carefully. I’m actually as proud of the things we haven’t done as the things I have done. Innovation is saying no to 1,000 things…And it comes from saying no to 1,000 things to make sure we don’t get on the wrong track or try to do too much. We’re always thinking about new markets we could enter, but it’s only by saying no that you can concentrate on the things that are really important.”
― Steve Jobs
When we travel, we pack light. It is not practical for all 7 of us to bring too much. We have learned to live with a little bit less every time. We go through our bags and I almost always dump half out. Some members pack a lot less than the maximum while others struggle with deciding what is absolutely essential.
The latter is where I happen to fall.
But through elimination and by saying no, I have discovered what I really need.
Saying no has given me the clarity and purpose. By simplifying my life, sometimes a slow subtraction and at other times a frantic mass annihilation, I have whittled down my list of essentials.
The picture above summarizes the short list:
My family, on an empty beach, having packed leftovers for lunch.
I need my family.
I need warmth which includes the sun.
I need shade when I need a break from the heat.
I need just enough space to fit us.
I need to share as many meals as I can with them.
I need to laugh.
I need to focus on the simple moment of the ordinary to truly value how extraordinary our life has become.
I need periods of rest and periods of activity.
I need to stand back and see the big picture as much as I need to get close up to the details of my life.
I need a rhythm just as the waves ebb and flow.
I need to have separation and solitude and watch them from afar.
I need to be their centre when they need me to be.
I need simple foods like tortillas fried in coconut oil, chorizo, rice, and mango – that’s what we are eating.
That’s my short list.
I would also add:
I need the rough courage, raw humour, and tenderness of my inner circle of family and friends.
I need a notebook and a pen.
I need a few good playlists on hand: 80’s mix, old school hip hop, and 90s slow jams.
I need a good collection of classic or modern essays to inspire me.
I need to create daily.
What would be on your list of essentials?
Tomorrow, I will talk about my process over the years and how I was able to finally say ‘no.’ I will talk about how homeschooling and my other choices fit into what is essential and how defining our essentials helped us define our family identity….