Make What You Do Sustainable

On Via Negativa and how to get great

There’s a reason why my podcast and newsletter are short. I'll share more about it in a while.

In one of my blog posts, I share a concept called Via Negativa. The conventional approach to making improvements—be it in businesses or personal lives—would be to add more. More time, more tactics, more tools, more effort. You name it.

Often adding more is not necessarily a great move to make. For example, the paradox of choice states that more options can lead to poorer decisions and lower satisfaction. Too much of a good thing can make it bad. And the tradeoffs and sacrifices you need to make in order to get more become impractical after a certain point.

When less is more

And Via Negativa is the art of adding more to your life by subtracting from it.

  • Think about the goals you have. Are your secondary goals holding you back from your first, most important primary goal?
  • Think about the information and input you have captured, gathered, and hoarded so far. Are they becoming the zombie ideas and notes lingering at the back of your mind as constant distractions?
  • Think about the open commitments you have. Are you saying yes to every request that comes your way, assuming that they are obligations?

If your answer is “Yes” to any of these questions, then you have some trimming to do.

The concept of Via Negativa connects well with a belief I have.

If you want to get great, play the long game. To play the long game, make it sustainable.

That said, removing unnecessary bells and whistles is one of the best ways to make what you do sustainable.

How I make Work Less sustainable

So why am I intentionally making Work Less short? It’s because the current standard I have for the podcast and newsletter is all about consistency and sustainability.

I'm not thinking about producing the best show in the world. I'm not worrying about the number of downloads I get. And I'm not sweating about production quality and having the latest podcast tech. It doesn't mean that I don't care about them. It just means that being able to publish a podcast (and catch up with you in your inbox) every week comes first.

Now back to you:

What's most important in your work and life right now? What will you subtract so you can prioritize what matters most? And how will you make it sustainable?

Footnotes

More recommended reads

What if the best way to accomplish more is by doing less?

Join Work Less to get practical insights and tips to help you work less, earn more, and live a better life—straight to your inbox—every Sunday.

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Dean is a strong voice in the self-mastery space. His newsletter consistently delivers insightful ideas on how to become a better version of yourself and is the only newsletter that I always read.

Sebastian Kade

Head of product and engineering