It's Labor Day Weekend in 2020 and the weather is amazing. We brought home a new puppy, had a few friends over for a BBQ, and I am on vacation for the next two weeks. Life is good!
Two days later, we fled our house afraid it was going to burn down.
Forest fires were ravaging our state. Smoke filled the air so you couldn't breath or go outside. As the fires kept getting closer, we decided it was safest to leave our home. My brother lived 30 miles away and he graciously offered to let us stay with him and his family.
As we were packing up the car, my wife and I agreed: we'd only pack the essentials. This is our first time having to run from a forest fire and we weren't prepared. It brought up a foundational question for me.
What are my essentials?
How I Discovered My Essentials
If I answered the question before this moment, I don't know what I would have said. Maybe I'd list out a few possessions, our car, or even our house. But when it came right down to it, none of these really mattered to me.
My essentials are much deeper than what I own. They aren't the things I've purchased, acquired, or won. They are not the financial investments I made or the things I've built. All of these things are nice and I like them very much. But they aren't essential.
My essentials are what is most important in my life.
In the time we spent away from our home, I realized what is essential for me. By going without many of the normal things in life, I realized what is normal isn't always essential.
When we are in the midst of a life crisis, its these essentials we focus on. They build the foundation of our lives.
What are Your Essentials?
We all spend a lot of time working to gain things that are not essential. Lets move away from gaining these non-essentials and shift our focus to what is foundational in our lives.
Here is my question for you: what are the essentials in your life?
While you may not be fleeing a forest fire, you can choose to focus on the essentials in your life today.
Here are 3 steps to focus on what is essential to you:
- Identify Your Essentials: take time to write out what you see as the most important areas of your life. You can do this by following the framework in the Purposeful Hustle or walk through steps to define your values. The goal is to get clear on what is important to you and therefore what are your essentials.
- Decide to Invest Time: once you know what your essentials are, decide to invest time in those essential areas. I say "invest" because time is a currency we spend. Where we spend that currency helps us to see what is important to us. Choose where to invest and invest continually.
- Check Your Progress: you will find that life happens. Seasons come and go. Our priorities change. These things are to be expected. As your priorities change, make sure you are still investing in your essentials.
Live Out Your Essentials
After a week away from our home, it is now safe for us to return.
The fires are under control, our house is still standing, and the air is clearing. Life is looking better once again.
All of our things are still right where we left them. However, my view has changed. I love our home and enjoy the things we own, but I now recognize these are just things.
Next time I am asked what my essentials are, I will have a very different answer.
My essentials are my family and friends. They are the people and relationships who are invested in my life. My own health, well being, and growth are also essentials. All of these make up the cornerstones of my life foundation. I know what they are and invest in them constantly.
This is my desire for you: make your essentials your foundation. Identify what your essentials are, decide to invest, and check your progress.
So when you are in the midst of fleeing a forest fire, you know your essentials.