Overcomplicating Things?

I bet you are.

We humans are nothing if not logical – big challenges require big solutions. After all, if there were a simple solution, wouldn’t we have solved this already?

Enter the Wile E Coyote planning process.

We love to match every nuance of a problem with its solution counterpart and map out every step from beginning to end.

This makes us feel good – the complexity makes the solution feel credible and proportional to the problem. “Eureka! THIS is going to work!

It makes it feel like a done deal – every possibility has been covered. “YES! I’ve got this.”

It makes us feel smart. “Wile E. Coyote, SUPER genius!”

Except Wile E. Coyote never does catch that Road Runner, and most of our best laid plans end up falling apart (sometimes before they even get started).


Complex and complicated plans may feel good to create, but they’re a bear to execute. They’re overwhelming. There are a too many places for unforeseen obstacles to creep in and interfere. Their rigidity prohibits us from seeing what’s right in front of us, blinding us to other choices and opportunities along the way.

Most of the time, solutions that work (on both the small and large scale) are simple, not complex.

Unfortunately, we automatically associate simple with easy and we get turned off because:

As in the example above, "…so simple a solution could never change my very difficult problem“.


We think simple means easy and easy means quick fix – then we give up too hastily, frustrated when nothing appears to change. 

My favorite example of this is Nike’s Just DO it campaign. The answer to personal fitness is exercise – incredibly simple – you just have to do it. But you have to do it every day. And that, as we exercise-impaired understand, is not easy.

And so, how do we embrace simple but not easy? And how can a long term, complicated goal be achieved this way?

This Week: 
3 Ways to Keep It Simple

    Rather than attempting to figure out everything at once, choose one small thing that you can do to get yourself started today. A favorable outcome (even a tiny one) will give you the energy and inspiration you need to take the next small step.

    In fact, by keeping yourself from looking too far ahead you'll not only avoid overwhelm, but also keep your mind open to new ideas that emerge from the incremental successes along the way.
    We spend a lot of time and energy reinventing the wheel. 

    Make a list of all the things you're good at. Then add things you've accomplished that you've proud of. Look around you for others who have already solved your problem (or under similar circumstances to yours, never had it in the first place). Add any that resonate to the list.

    Search the list for hints on how you can attack your current dilemma simply. Your first step is probably right in front of you.
    Avoid judging yourself or your progress each step of the way. Practice looking at this process as a continuous flow from which you will learn and shift as you move forward rather than a series of starts and stops.