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Essentialism & Maximizing Life

I remember my freshman year at Pacific University very well.   I literally read 3-4 hours a day and spent almost two hours of homework per hour of class (the recommendation to college undergraduates).  Despite this intensive study, I went from having a 3.8 in high school to a 2.0 at university during my first semester.  What had happened?

I discovered that doing less, but doing it in a more focused manor was what I was missing. 

During my second semester, one of my college professors asked me, “How many questions are on a standard test?” I answered, “about 50”.  His next question, “How many pieces of information do we cover in a class?” I responded, “I don’t know for sure, probably somewhere between 300-500.”  He replied, “Good. So it’s your job as a student to cover that material and understand those ideas, but more importantly, to come up with a strategy to know the top 50-80 things that might be on a test and focus most of your study time and memorization to those items.” 

This conversation plays out in my head over and over.  It changed the way that I do work. Work smarter, not harder.  Within one semester, my GPA went up to nearly two grade points.  

These same principles I have applied to my athletics, the way I prepare for meetings, presentations, work and life in general.  It is the difference in doing a whole lot of good things, or focusing on being intentional and accomplishing great and occasionally an outstanding feat. 

One of the more tangible experiences where I saw this play out for me was in my marathon training.  After six years of marathon running, my training partner at the time Dave Uranich introduced me to a “minimalist” training program.  We cut our training mileage almost in half, which was counterintuitive for me. Although I understood the theory of how it works, I was pleasantly surprised at not only how well I felt during the training year, and the reduction in minor aches on my body, but I managed to cut over 20 minutes off my marathon time that year. I ran the fastest and most physically enjoyable marathon of my life.  

 Rob running the North Olympic Discovery Kid's Marathon with his niece.

Rob running the North Olympic Discovery Kid's Marathon with his niece.

I am constantly asking myself in all aspects of my life how I can maximize my experience.  How can I get the most out of precious time, energy, resources, relationships, and encounters?  

I strongly believe that by being intentional and consistent, I can have a more meaningful experience in my relationships, work, and in my personal life.


Rob DeCouComment