Simple is effective.
April 21, 2016
Posted by on
Over the last few years I have started many fascinating projects that were very complex and really well-thought out.
There was always a strong initial phase of excitement and motivation. After this peak had waned I then regularily reached a point of frustration and action stalled. For quite some time now I have kept asking myself: „Why is this happening?“. Am I not motivated enough? Were my ideas not good enough to be worthy of full and proper execution?
So today afternoon I was working on a project, reading through a few emails detailing steps for something I wanted to do and execute on in a practical way.
It so happened that before I got some important things done and felt very victorious and in a good flow. Then I gradually noticed something happening when I was confronted with that more complex task that had no proper end defined, or at least I couldn’t see it at that point because it was too far in the future. Working through those endlessly long Emails I noticed that, because I didn’t have a clear structure and goal defined my motivation was suffering. Suddenly I didn’t feel like I was winning any more – I felt like I was wasting time, not making progress and getting stuck (even though I was progressing through the reading material and putting in my best effort). Uff. What was going wrong?
Then it suddenly dawned on my: I didn’t experience success because I hadn’t planned for it. What I needed was a clear and simple goal-definition. A simple road to follow. This and small-chunking. So I finished reading the Email I was currently engrossed in, then I got up and gave myself a big pat on the shoulder for working so far and being super-concentrated all the time (seperating the process of work at that moment and giving myself a much-needed reward). Then I got an overview of what I was going to read and cut off all mental branches that were not relevant for achieving the simple goal that I now had defined for my work session. Thus simplifying the whole thing and making it more achievable and measurable. Then I got through the rest of the reading material (which worked fine because I had an overview of the reading in front of me and a renewed sense of direction and clarity). After finishing I went straight into taking action on the actual goal for which the reading was a preparation. Which I finished. Very satisfying. If I hadn’t done that tweak of self-reflective course-correction then I’m pretty sure the whole thing would have fallen apart and I would not have gotten it done today. Simple self-awareness really is where it starts for me.
So what I learned from having this experience is the following:
- It is very good to reward myself for smaller part-goals
- It is very very important to reward myself for effort! while still measuring efficiency in a gentle self-loving way. This keeps me going.
- It is absolutely essential for me to make the goal SIMPLE and CLEAR and ATTAINABLE
- while over-complication might look very reasonable and beautiful in theory and sometimes feel inspiring it leads to the land of unfinished projects
-> when it comes to execution simplicity has great power and thus has priority
- It is very important for me to know the road ahead when working (so that I can properly small-chunk and give myself little rewards throughout the process)
- It’s extremely helpful to measure my levels of motivation and engagement while I am working and to immediately take corrective action in case I see them drop
So this concise post is my re-entry to blogging about useful and constructive stuff that’s on my mind. Setting the bar lower this time and making it attainable.
Making it clear, simple and attainable ;)… and then rewarding myself for getting it done. Because simple is effective and pleasurable and because simple produces results.