Have you ever read a headline like 7 Simple Ways to Grow Your Business or 3 Simple Ways to Become a Millionaire and thought "...yeah, right...simple my butt..."?
I know I have.
And sometimes I still get sucked into the 'promise' that headlines like this promote, prompting me to actually read the article before once again thinking, "There's nothing simple about this..."
But maybe that's where I'm wrong. And you might be as well. Let me explain...
Perhaps we're confusing simple with easy. And there's a huge difference between the two.
Simple Vs. Easy
Simple means only that something lacks complexity.
Maybe it's a process that's considered simple because it only has one or two steps instead of 20 or 30. Or perhaps it's a concept that can be clearly understood by a kindergartener as opposed to requiring a PhD, making it simpler in nature...or less complex.
Easy, on the other hand, is something completely different.
If something is described as easy, it just means that it requires minimal work or effort.
For instance, sitting on the couch watching your favorite TV show is easier than working on that project you need to finish.
And grabbing that last piece of chocolate cake is easier than going to the kitchen and washing and chopping healthy vegetables to munch on instead.
So just because something is simple, that doesn't make it easy. But it does make it more efficient and effective.
Simple is Efficient and Effective
The simpler we can make things, the more efficient and effective we're going to be in achieving them.
In fact, if you look up the word 'efficient' in the dictionary, it says that it is "acting or producing effectively with a minimum of waste, expense, or unnecessary effort."
In other words, the simpler you make things (by cutting out what you don't need), the more effective they become automatically!
That still doesn't make simple easy.
Want to finish a triathlon? All you have to do is swim, run, and cycle.
Simple? Yes. Easy? No way!
Want to build a profitable business? Just increase revenues and decrease expenses.
Simple? Yes. Easy? Not at all!
Why Simple Can Sometimes be so Damn Hard...
Taking the simple route isn't always the easiest because, often, it goes against so much of the way we've been thinking, what we've been taught to think, and how our minds work.
We start fighting against internal factors like motivation, self-discipline, and drive...ultimately giving up because "it's too hard."
Or we search for the most complicated ways to do things, looking at our problem from every angle possible, adding parts and steps we don't necessarily need but we feel may add to our process...but then we never take any action.
Often, we never finish...because we never even start.
Fortunately, there are many things you can do to make reaching your goals possible by making them less complex.
Connecting the Solution to the Problem
Success with simplicity lies in making a connection between the problem and the solution, or, as author Dan Heath puts it, connecting "the aspirin to the headache."
In other words, first you need to figure out what the issue or problem is. Then your next step is to find a way to actually resolve it.
Simple, yes. Easy...not really.
For example, maybe you know you need to get in better physical shape. After all, if you exercise regularly, you'll enjoy many benefits such as a lower body weight, fewer health issues, better mood, and more energy.
Therefore, a simple solution to your problem is to engage in a daily (or close to daily) exercise program.
No, this isn't the easy route, but it could be the most effective and efficient.
There's also something else you can do to make a process simpler...
Become a "Master of Condensation"
No, catching water droplets as they vaporize into the air isn't going to help you simplify anything. Unless you're dying of thirst, I suppose it'd simplify that.
The condensation I'm talking about here is the other definition; it's "the act or process of making something shorter." In other words, getting rid of the things you don't need.
A good example of this in business, is the lean methodology," or elimination of any unnecessary part of the process in order to get greater output with fewer resources. Or put simply, more value from fewer resources."
If there's something that you're struggling with, perhaps a change that you're trying to make yet can't seem to get it to "stick," take a look at the process you're using. Is there any step or piece you can remove in order to make it easier?
Even though making a process simpler doesn't necessarily make it easier, it does make it more efficient and effective...which means longer lasting results with less effort.
Not no effort, but less effort.
This doesn't make it easy, but it may make it easi-er. Sometimes you've got to take what you can get.