The Quit List: Spark Yourself Some Joy by Pruning ALL of Life

Thanks to her trendy Netflix show and popular book, Marie Kondo has everyone giving minimalism a try and following the 'KonMari' method of keeping only the belongings that 'spark joy'.

Minimalism, though, is arguably just an offshoot of essentialism.

Adding to life by...subtracting??

Essentialism is one of the founding documents of Struggleism. In it, Greg McKeown talks about how, in the same way we're reluctant to get rid of our non-essential physical goods (i.e., those that don't spark joy), we're bad at eliminating non-essential commitments we've made. He says there are three tendencies at play deep inside our thought processes:

  • Sunk cost fallacy: we keep investing in X because we've already put so much into X

  • Endowment effect: we value X more if X is ours or if X is part of our self-identity

  • Status quo bias: we keep doing X because, well, X is what we've been doing

Also, I'd add, FOMO.

But to accomplish your personal vision, to achieve whatever you want most, you may need to quit the other commitments competing for your time, energy, money, and attention.

Like master gardeners, we must prune and curate our lives. While this often means dropping the trivial and unimportant, it sometimes means quitting even the very good for the sake of the highest good.

Greg says this type of life-editing has to become a way of life, and it helps to have a system. Others seem to agree. For example, Bob Goff quits something every Thursday. One's system doesn't have to be complicated.

I imagine there are some Thursdays when ol' Bob is not immediately sure what he should quit, or even what he could quit. Maybe nothing's top-of-mind so he has to brainstorm some candidates. On those Thursdays, to kickstart the brainstorm and trigger ideas, he might benefit from a list of the many different kinds of commitments one might consider quitting.

Perhaps you'd benefit too.

The Quit List

Consider quitting any of these types of commitments:


example: Dropbox

example: Netflix

actions, including recurring

example: oiling your boots

example: using the dryer


example: smoking

example: shopping

amusements, i.e., time-fillers

example: Candy Crush