I’ve always been a person who keeps things relatively simple and straightforward. I’ve never owned multiple colors of gel pens or a label maker. I figure out what I like and keep buying it forever. And I still type everything in Microsoft Word.
Some people might say that I’m old-fashioned. (I kind of am.) They might say I’m stubborn. (Definitely, yes.) I move that I’m keeping it simple and uncluttered. If it works, it works. If I’m happy with what works, why make a big point of changing it?
You may have heard of the acronym K.I.S.S. In its historical form, it can be construed as slightly offensive. But in its message, it’s spot on. Keep it simple. Better yet – keep it super simple. And yet, I see it over and over again, in so many areas of life and business and health – we do our best to complicate things.
While all the world is out there optimizing and hacking in search of simple, we’re often accomplishing the exact opposite.
I mean, if you think about it strictly from the standpoint of all the products out there that claim to help you simplify your life, it’s staggering. How many of these products have you purchased? Have they made your life simpler? Or not really? Or maybe they complicated matters even more? Or frankly, just ended up as a waste of your hard-earned dollars?
The very first product in the very first result in a Google search for “simplify your life products” is a $25 dog washing glove. Y’all. Really? How about a hose or a bath?
A few more results down, I find two-in-one products, like a stool that turns into a table. A planter you can wear as a necklace. OK, maybe. But…maybe not? The arguments here for actual life simplification are flimsy at best.
Maybe the very best example of a product that’s meant to simplify and goes horribly wrong is the Roomba that tracks dog shit all over your house. As much as I hate vacuuming, it’s a whole lot simpler than trying to clean up that mess.
And services can sometimes be the same. Subscription boxes (that are full of stuff you’ll never use). Organic produce delivery (that you let go bad in your crisper). Let’s be real – gym memberships (you kind of forget you have after March of every year).
Overall, it’s got a lot to do with messaging. Honestly, with conflicting messaging. On one hand, we’re supposed to be slowing down and simplifying and focusing on what matters. On the other, we’re supposed to be as productive as humanly possible, always working, doing and earning more, and filling our schedules with that shiny, ideal life. The (New) American Dream, right?
There’s a course for that.
But in all seriousness, I think we are craving simplicity at some level in our lives. And I also think we struggle with how to accomplish it.
As with so many things in life, it all just seems like a problem to be solved. If I have this challenge, there must be a service or a product or a place or a person who can help me solve it. In some cases, sure. But what I’m really saying here is I wonder whether everything is a problem to be solved. Whether it needs optimizing or simplifying.
Maybe it’s already simple enough.
As you may know, I’ve recently been exploring my work, what I’m doing, how I’m doing it. In reflecting back on that journey, at least a portion of that exploration stemmed from a desire to simplify. What I do doesn’t fit into one particular box, but by golly, I sure fell for the idea that it needed to.
After nearly a year of seeking out services and products and experiences and learning that would help me solve this “problem,” I finally came to the conclusion that it was already exactly as simple as it needed to be, for me. Even if it’s multiple things, it’s still simple. It’s not complicated at all. I don’t actually need an elevator pitch for that. I don’t need to make a bunch of changes. And frankly, in trying so hard to simplify by someone else’s definition, I was accomplishing the opposite result.
I had a conversation with a colleague in fitness who has been going through pretty much exactly the same struggles in the last year, and as I shared how I was just going to continue doing what I’m doing, as well as bring back fitness, and basically incorporate all of those things however it makes sense based on the need, she was all in. As much as I was up in my head about it, about how I needed to combine it all into this perfect THING, when I got it out of my head and in front of someone else, it felt simple enough to them. All I had been doing was making it more complicated than it really was.
On a practical level, as I now settle back into growing all my various arms of business, the thought did cross my mind that it could potentially present a logistical problem: OMG! I’ve got two websites! Isn’t that confusing? Do I need to combine them? Or *gasp* rebrand? Wouldn’t that make it all so much simpler?
Honestly, that thought sent me reeling, and my gut instantly said no. The answer is not to introduce more variables, more work, more distractions. The simple answer is a link on each site directing to the other.
Again, this incredible colleague, along with several other trusted professional advisors, laughed, and then agreed:
“Don’t overcomplicate it,” she said.
“Don’t distract yourself,” said another.
“It’s totally fine,” said a third.
And in truth, it is. I don’t have any problem or find any extra effort or inconvenience in maintaining two websites. It’s really no big deal. They’re both fantastic. I would be sad to see either of them go, truth be told. This feels simple to me, so I’m keeping it that way. But wow, the prevailing messaging out there sure tells me that’s the worst decision I could make.
I think about this often in terms of health and fitness. There is an overwhelming amount of information and gear out there, and a good portion of it is actually complicating the picture for most folks. You don’t need much to make a lot of progress. Maybe some basic support or guidance, a pair of shoes, but that can look exactly as simple as you need it to look.
I think about it in terms of business stuff too. More and more people keep popping up with these 20,000-word sales pages about how they’re going to help you simplify and streamline and optimize your life and business…with a twelve-week intensive curriculum…that you have to fit in among all your other obligations…and follow to the rigid letter in order for it work. Somehow that doesn’t translate to simple for me.
As with nearly every single other thing I share with you, this comes down to understanding yourself and your life. What do you really want? Are you there, or closer than you think? Is there something you can bring into the picture to make it happen? Or is your own system actually working out alright already, maybe just needs a tweak or a little more focus? Do you really need to find some external thing to get there?
In nearly every single case, it’s simpler to do the thing instead of searching for the simpler way to do that thing.
Listen, maybe you do need a meal service. (Which, by the way, I’m the biggest proponent of.) Maybe you do need a mentor or a new certification. Maybe you do actually need a suitcase-combination-wi-fi hotspot-combination-standing desk-combination-phone charger-combination-beer cooler-combination-shoe shine machine. Or maybe, you need to take a pause.
Find some solitude.
And truly understand what it means for you to keep it simple, to remove unnecessary elements and complications, to be still. And then, to do the work instead of distracting yourself. To clear the fog instead of muddying the waters.
To live instead of filling time.
If you need a little help with the clarity part right now, I promise I can help…without overcomplicating. Email me anytime, or set up a quick call below.