When you’re faced with a problem, you naturally try to find a solution. The less you know about a problem, the more complicated the solution seems to be.
This is especially troublesome if you’re prone to analyzing and overcomplicating things, like I am. Sure, there may be simpler solutions to a problem, but they just don’t work as well as something more thoughtful or complex.
Sounds about right? Yet, no matter what, you always seem to end up back at square one: dissatisfied with whatever solution you come up with and always searching for something better.
Kind of like this:
If you’re like me, you applied this way of thinking to:
- Relationship problems: “My partner’s behavior is making me angry, should I just break up with them? Let me read a bunch of reddit advice.”
- Choosing a workout routine: “There are so many options out there, which one is the best for me? Let me analyze all of them, cross-reference them with my body type, and then maybe in a few weeks I can actually start working out.”
- Organizing your tasks: “How do I organize my projects, lists, and tasks so I never forget a thing? I already tried 50 apps, maybe this new one will finally help me do it.”
I know you don’t want to hear it, but this is bullshit. It’s pure procrastination.
Nobody, and I mean nobody, achieved their life goals thanks to some magical system of interconnected tasks, a digitalized second brain, and a decision matrix that helps them always make the right choice.
Not a single fucking person.
You overcomplicate things because, for people like us, making plans and browsing advice on reddit is much easier (and much more fun) than actually doing the hard work. No matter what you tell yourself, crafting a perfect plan gets you nowhere. You’re still stuck at the starting point and you still have to execute that plan. Until you get started, your plan is worthless.
So what should you do instead? Simple: make it easy.
Whenever you’re faced with a problem, when you have to make a decision or figure something out, ask yourself:
“What would this look like if it were easy?”
What does the easy solution look like? What solution helps me get started sooner and get to my goal faster? Am I making this harder than it needs to be?
Besides the obvious problem of analysis paralysis, detailed plans never work out the way you want them to. They always break down, and usually not far from the start.
Of course, they do. You can’t predict the future. Your plans exist in a bubble, where the conditions are perfect, you always have enough energy or stamina, and you’re willing to execute on hard decisions without breaking a sweat.
Sounds perfect, on paper. But you will be tired. Your emotions will get in the way. Your perfect conditions will be blown away by a shitstorm you couldn’t have predicted. What then?
There’s a great quote about this from The Flash series. It goes like this:
“Make the plan.
Execute the plan.
Expect the plan to go off the rails.
Throw away the plan.”
By choosing an easy solution, you achieve multiple benefits.
- Reduce stress so it’s easier to actually get started.
- Start making progress, however small. Over time, it accumulates.
- You can always improve on the solution along the way.
Most of the time, you will find out that your initial “easy” solution was just what you needed. It’s good enough, gets the job done, and you move on to the next problem.
Sometimes, you will realize that some problems require more complexity. That’s fine. Once you realize that, start adding things you feel are missing, then test the solution again. Keep tweaking and improving it until it works. If things become too complicated, remove some of the things you added.
Simple. Clean. Efficient.
The key is to start small. You really have nothing to lose and everything to gain. It’s much better to do something partially good than to never get started because your plan is so goddamn complicated.
- Not sure how to solve your relationship problem? Talk to your partner about it. Seriously, you’re asking a bunch of strangers for advice when the only person who can actually do something about it is sitting in the next room.
- Not sure which workout routine is best for you? Pick fucking anything. Just grab something that seems the most interesting, try it out, then switch it out or adapt it if it’s not working for you.
- Not sure what is the best way to stay productive? Write everything you need to do, right now, in a single list. Choose three tasks each day and try to complete them. If over time you see this system isn’t enough for you, start adding more things when you think you need them.
Keep it simple. Add complexity only if and when it’s needed. And keep asking yourself:
“What if it was easy? What can I remove from the equation to make it easy?”
Simplify your life and you’ll realize it suddenly becomes much less stressful. When you start looking for easy ways to solve your problems, those same problems won’t seem as scary anymore.
Then you spend your energy on things that actually matter and make you happy.
P.S. If you feel like your mindset isn’t as strong as you’d like it to be, check out the Mind of Steel Handbook. It’s a collection of 12 rules that help you build and maintain mental strength.