A few weeks ago, I was listening to a group coaching call that's mostly focused on business and marketing topics. The group consists of individuals in all stages of life - people who have a strong desire to start their own business, people who already have something going on but are struggling to get it off the ground, people who want specific advice, even people who don't have a clue about what they want.
The call's host provides his coaching services by taking calls and talking through any issues the attendees want. One of the calls was from a person in her 50s who is semi-retired. She began to talk about recently helping someone she knew with creating content for their business and enjoyed it so much that she wanted to start becoming a freelance copywriter in that particular area of business.
As the call went on, the caller mentioned that she feels like her writing skills and knowledge of the area of business she was aiming was solid but was worried because her technical skills aren't where she wants them to be. She spent a significant amount of time rattling down a list of things she didn't know - how to properly use different blogging platforms, how to best write content that will be picked up by search engines, how to set up funnels for marketing purposes, and so on.
After a few minutes, the host had to step in and interrupt her long speech. "Wait a minute, why do you need to know all of these things to start your copywriting career?"
This question created a long pause, followed by the caller sheepishly saying "... I don't know."
The caller eventually said that she spent some time doing research online and reading books, and these were all the things she saw others talking about consistently. However, all of this was distracting her from her current goal, which is to start doing copywriting and getting paid for it. While all of the skills she mentioned are great to have for anyone wanting to do copywriting for businesses, they're not essential in the beginning. At the stage she was in the process, it was solely a distraction.
Why do we complicate things endlessly?
These types of distractions are common. There always seems to be the need to do more than what's needed to move forward. By itself, thinking about the road ahead isn't a bad thing. Unfortunately, this type of thinking tends to overcomplicate whatever you're doing. It will cause you to significantly slow your pace because you'll be trying to do too many things. It might even cause you to give up altogether because of the added complexity that wasn't necessary in the first place.
So, why do we make things more complicated than needed? I've seen it pop up due to different reasons:
- We think we need to be fully prepared to move forward. Typically, this is perfectionism - we believe that the only way to make progress is to prepare for everything. Preparedness is good, but not when it's keeping us paralyzed.
- We're trying to impress someone. Whether it be your manager, a peer, or even some stranger on the Internet, many people feel like they can't show that they know less than someone else. The tricky part is that this can also happen on an unconscious level, where we don't even realize we're complicating our path.
- We sometimes don't like asking for help. This reason goes hand-in-hand with the previous point. Some people take asking for help as a sign of weakness, a sign of giving up. Instead of asking for some assistance, they walk through the long road by entangling themselves with unnecessary work.
- Our brains crave stimulation. If the mind finds itself getting bored, it will generate any form of stimulus to keep itself active. If you ever tried to focus on a simple task and it seems like ten other unnecessary responsibilities grew out of it for no reason, this might be the reason.
- Sometimes we want to be a hero. For some, taking the easy route makes them feel less capable as if they're not accomplishing much. To compensate, they begin to add extra layers on top of the work they're doing to show that they're able to do more than expected. These people eventually get to the finish line, but with much less energy to spare.
The cure for complexity is simplicity
By ditching the complications that are often self-imposed and making things simple, you can avoid all the pitfalls defined above:
- You don't need to know everything to proceed. Learn what you need to start, take action, and learn some more when the need arises.
- You don't need to impress anyone. The only person you need to impress is yourself, and let your actions do the talking.
- You need to ask for help when you need it. No one will think you're incapable of doing a job if you need a little help. Try working through an issue on your own, but never let complexity prevent you from moving on.
- Don't get distracted when you feel bored. Put away your phone and stay away from time-sucking activities when you're doing the work that will take you toward your goals. You need to embrace boredom to find success.
- You never need to make things harder than they are. If you can get results quickly and effortlessly, it doesn't mean that you're not working hard. All the knowledge and experience that helps make things simple should be shown off and proudly on display.
When it's all said and done, whenever you're working towards a goal, the only thing that matters is the result. Did you accomplish what you were going to do or not? That's what most people care about, and that should be your primary point of focus. Get on with your work, one step at a time. Don't get entangled with unnecessary, convoluted actions that will only bog you down. Keep it real simple, and you'll get the results you deserve effortlessly.
Small steps for your Practical Good
If you like the idea of simplicity, here are some tips to help you achieve your current goals with ease:
- Identify if you're overcomplicating one of your current goals. Take a look at the list of typical reasons people complicate their work. Do any of these reasons apply to you? If so, begin to take steps towards simplifying what you're doing and strip away everything you don't need now to move you forward.
Take one of your current goals and strip it down to the bare minimum required to accomplish it. Whenever we take on a new path, we tend to over-prepare for the journey. This over-preparedness can manifest itself by spending too much time putting together an elaborate plan or purchasing lots of materials, for example. As mentioned in the article, these are nice-to-have, but not need-to-have at this time. Think what would be the absolute shortest route to get the result of your goal, and plan to take that path.