Simplicity – Focusing on What’s Important

Maybe, probably not, but maybe, you will recall that I’ve been sporadically writing a series here on the blog about  five words that I am using to try to build the house I am making for my life. These words are not goals in and of themselves. They are more like signposts, or structure, or direction. Or something.

In my previous posts, I said that the five words I’m looking at are: Energy, Strength, Independence, Simplicity, and Creativity. They are in this order for a reason, and in my mind each word builds on the one that comes before.

In my house, energy is the foundation. Strength is the floor. I said in the post about independence that I considered it to be the framework, the bones of the house we are building. However, I think that simplicity and independence must go hand-in-hand. Maybe I should think of them as twins.

Come play with us…

Independence and Simplicity work together to provide the structure of the house. They are the two-by-fours, siding, shingles, and roof. Independence faces outward, guarding against the external forces that try to swamp you. Simplicity faces inward, asking you to consider your expectations of yourself and what you think is required to be successful.

Independence says, with respect for others, you must to go your own way. Simplicity tells you that in order to do that, you must focus on what’s actually important. You must concentrate on the essential steps required to do what you want to do and disregard all of the noise. This is easier said than done.

Maybe you have an idea, a good idea. It is very easy to build on it and build and build  until you’ve lost sight of what you originally planned. Or maybe you can see a vision for your future, but in chasing the dream you get pulled down into a twisting maze of confusion until you stop running because you can’t find your way back to make your future a reality.

Or maybe you forget to be independent. Maybe you listen to the myriad of voices desperately trying to convince you that you need to change more, or be more, or buy more. Those voices that convince you that you are not enough and you need to do more and more and more to be successful. If you listen, you may find yourself constantly running, adding, building, and forget what it was you were trying to do in the first place.

It’s so easy to overlook what’s actually important. It’s easy to ignore the simple things. It’s hard to see what’s really essential when layers upon layers have been added on top of it. It’s like a roof that’s had new shingles put over old ones time and time again. To see the base plywood, you have to rip all of the old layers off.

First, you have to consider what it is you really want to do. What were your original goals or dreams? As I mentioned in the last blog post, you have to challenge yourself and decide if the things you originally wanted to achieve are still valid.

If those goals and dreams are still important, then what is essential to accomplish them?

For example, if you think you want to be an independently published author, there are a few things you need. You need to have written a book or a short story or whatever. For publication, you need a cover and a sales blurb. You need a way to format your book or short story into an ebook, paperback, or audiobook. You need to load the book or short story onto different vendor websites (because we’re talking indie here). You need to tell people it’s out there so maybe somebody else will read what you’ve written.

And that’s about it. There are a few different steps for someone who wants to be a traditionally published author, but it’s basically the same.  Write the thing, get the thing out there, tell the people about the thing. Although there’s definitely a learning curve, at the core it’s relatively straightforward.

But it can get pretty complicated pretty darned fast if you let it. You can get caught up in worrying about publishing strategies and whether it’s better to be exclusive with Amazon or go to all of the vendors, or how you should price. You can obsessively track advertising click rates and sell-through and newsletter signups. You can spend all your time on social media or pursuing blog tours and reviews.

But do you know what’s really important if you want to be a published author? You need to write a book or a short story or whatever. You need to publish it or send it to somebody else to try to get them to publish it. Then you need to do it all over again. That’s it. The rest is just window dressing. The window dressing might be useful, but not if it draws you down a rabbit hole into confusion. Keep it simple.

This is not just true in writing, of course. It’s true everywhere. It is so easy to take something that you want to do, or that you need to do, and get pulled so far away from the basic heart of it that you don’t know where you are anymore.  It’s hard to remain focused on what’s important.

That’s when we need to relax, take a deep breath, and look again.

Simplicity means learning what’s important to YOU for where you’re at in YOUR journey and not getting swept away into complexity or confusion or competitiveness.

So, look. What are you trying to do? What are the essential steps you need to take to do it?

And then… go.



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