One Year Later- What’s Essential?


During the past year, you may have had several pivotal moments when you realized you’d had quite enough.

This should’ve been the year of the #EnoughIsEnough hashtag.

This Times article suggests that most of us have hit a wall of burnout and exhaustion. I certainly have my days that require a few extra practices to get me back to center.

And yet, as in all of life, the trials and tragedies of this past year served to awaken us to the already unthinkable horrors of the world around us.

We became like Zoom animals, looking out our cages through the virtual screens of our collective imprisonment.

Would we have collectively stopped to notice the repugnance of our collective past any other way?

And despite the many social movements that did arise from our newly unobstructed fish-bowl view of global events, did we take enough collective action in response?

Despite the evolution of mankind to another stage of consciousness — did we “wake up” enough to the travesties around us?

Where is your #EnoughIsEnough threshold?

One of my pivotal moments came roughly a decade ago when I faced the inconceivable decision whether to live a life filled with pain or to leave the planet for good. Most people wouldn’t imagine the latter choice as an option, but my life had been filled with such tragedy that leaving was entirely viable for me.

Except that it wasn’t.

I had two children who’d survive me, and I couldn’t imagine the cruel consequence of leaving them like that.

And I realized I’d never actually embraced the full potential of who I was. While I’d mastered many things, I was still playing small.

I’d been playing Chicken with my purpose and talents.

And that suppression of my purpose, intention and contributions likely led to the autoimmune disorders, the intolerable pain, dark depression and bitter disillusionment that besieged me.

My #EnoughIsEnough moment came when I faced the possibility of death and decided to live.

It was like I finally woke up and shouted “WTF was I doing with my life?” And why hadn’t I figured out what was Most Important and Do That?

What’s Essential, and What’s Not?

Greg McKeown writes in his book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less about finding those parts of our life that are “essential” in order to be focused, purposeful and fulfilled.

He describes essentialism as having the capacity to “discern the trivial many from the vital few.”

Essentialists explore what really matters so they can live a more productive and fulfilling life.

The overwhelmed- burned out-traumatized and escapist-seeking culture we live in would be served better by focusing on the parts of our lives that are essential and life sustaining.

Why would we say yes to anything in life unless it’s a HELL YES?

Especially now.

Luckily, we are not animals locked in cages without choices. We are the only species whose opposable thumbs and frontal lobes create opportunities for discernment and agency.

What Would an Essentialist Do?

McKeown’s ideas about essentialism parallel my own about purpose in The Golden Thread, fundamentally speaking the same language of creating clarity, commitment and execution.

It’s been exactly one year since The Golden Thread was published, and the world has shifted in remarkable ways.

While it may seem we’ve gone bass-ackwards in everything we ever knew as acculturated consumers, whether you believe it or not, we and the world have evolved forward.

We unwittingly and reluctantly took advantage of the temporally-altered and transitional space created by the shutdown to look deep inside and explore what really matters.

Which leads to your #EnoughIsEnough pivotal moment.

Will you take it now, or wait til it’s essentially too late? [cause at 30 seconds til midnight on the planetary crisis clock, that’s about all we have left.]

An essentialist, or a purpose-driven beast, would:

  • Explore what Really Matters. Find the essence of your life, and build a life around that. AKA Purpose.
  • Uncommit to the Things That Don’t. Learn that No is a sentence. Distractions will destroy a life of Purpose.
  • Edit out the Doubting and Dysfunctional Parts. Become more of who you are, less of who you are not. Remove obstacles, shadow, barriers, self-imposed hurdles.
  • Focus on What’s Important. Create virtuous circles and Purpose KPIs to keep yourself aligned.
  • Take Action toward Small Wins. Done is better than perfect. Small bold steps lead to large wins.
  • Learn to Distinguish the Necessary and Real. Finding flow enshrines powerful habits that automate authenticity.

These steps are essentially (pun intended) the nutshell version of what it takes to live a purpose-driven life.

Had enough? Ready to explore?

Find me below.

About The Author

Dr. Holly Woods is the Author of the #1 Bestseller, The Golden Thread: Where to Find Purpose in the Stages of Your Life. Read it, you’ll never again think your life doesn’t matter.

Holly is a purpose activator. She believes that touching the spark of your soul lights you up so much that you alter the world just by being in it.

Learn about Holly’s work at Emergence Institute. You can schedule a 30 minute Strategy session with Holly.

Better yet, join the Purpose Creators Collective, a home for you to grow your purposeful life, work and business with mentoring, courses and the company of aligned peers. It will be a laboratory, incubator, sacred container and support network for those of us emerging into our next expression.

Holly’s spent nearly 4 decades helping visionaries build products and businesses that change the world, as a coach, mentor, consultant and entrepreneur. She’s younger than she’s ever been because her purpose inspires her to keep making a difference. That’s what she wants for you, too. Holly helps her clients uncover their nuanced purpose, gain capacities and mindset to attain their unreasonable goals, and align decisions, products, strategies and systems around what matters most.

Get a free copy of the tried-and-true Purpose to Impact Roadmap she uses to create that alignment and amplification in the world.

Holly earned a PhD in Human & Organizational Development, is certified as an Integral Master Coach®, Purpose Guide®, Professional Mediator and Facilitator, Master Energy Practitioner, and is a Stages of Consciousness developmental practitioner.

Emergence Institute

Holly Woods, PhD

ⓒ 2020 Emergence Institute