Simple, not easy

I read a little book recently that made the point that many things are simple, not easy. Habits…skills…resolutions.

How is it that I often confuse the two?



Not the same. Sometimes the two overlap, but often, a task that is simple is anything but easy, and vice versa.

In fact, great accomplishments and powerful truths are often simple in concept but difficult to fulfill or maintain.

“All the greatest things are simple, and many can be expressed in a single word: freedom; justice; honour; duty; mercy; hope.”  ~ Sir Winston Churchill

So what’s the take away?

I need the reminder that even simple goals require strength of will, self-discipline, courage, persistence, bravery.

But I don’t often think of that when I give myself a new task. Lose 10 pounds? Recommit to my goal of daily quiet time? Launch a new site? Love my spouse, in spite of our differences?

Of course, it’s easy to say the words to myself, to promise what I’ll do. Easy in theory to accomplish.

But how hard to achieve the reality!

I think this is why so many plans fail, why we’re surprised when we can’t do the simple things…lose the 10 pounds, get caught up with our projects, stay committed to resolutions.

I think we fail because we tell ourselves the simple things will be a piece of cake, maybe even quick to do. We believe we’ve committed to making easy changes. We reassure ourselves we’re not taking on anything too challenging. We believe if we frame goals this way, we’ll succeed. We tell ourselves a story of accomplishment in expectation of ease. If we say it, it will happen.

But change isn’t easy. It doesn’t work that way.

We don’t prepare ourselves for the difficulty of the small battles. 

The small achievements lead to the big accomplishments. But how often I derail myself with the little things, the simple things!

I tell myself the little things don’t count…the extra bite here and there, the day I miss my quiet time, the lapse in working out. A miss now and then doesn’t hurt too much, right?

That’s what I tell myself.

That’s probably why I always have on my list: lose 10 pounds; write consistently; keep my quiet time commitment. Small goals, simple to list.

The ideas are simple, but accomplishing is hard.

I bring myself back to the starting line, again and again. And each time, I tell myself the goals are easy. How hard can it be to succeed?

I’ve thought a lot about “simple” vs “easy,” and I have to admit, no real change of behavior is easy. All change is hard, and some changes are harder. Even if the new behavior isn’t difficult, being consistent in a new habit can be almost impossible.

Sometimes I talk myself out of my commitment…too tired, too hurried, too busy…take your pick. Sometimes I forget my new habit…just don’t remember I’m in the process of making life changes, today, now, in the moment. Sometimes I try and fail. I just don’t have the willpower to resist a temptation, or power through.

Oh well, tomorrow is another day, and I’ll try again.

Yes, tomorrow is another day. And I will try again. But I think it’s time I go ahead and tell myself honestly to expect a fight. It’s going to be a fight to lose 10 pounds, to write every day, to do the many things that fill my lists and fuel my hopes. Maybe I like to tell myself these are easy goals so I won’t feel intimidated? Or like a failure when I fail, yet again?

How often do you make the same promises to yourself? Or to others?

I don’t think I’m alone in this.

Instead of telling myself my tasks will be easy, I need to see them as they really are. While I’m being honest with myself, I also need to acknowledge, as an adult, I can do hard things. I can make the difficult choices, keep the promises that I make. That’s really a lot of what being an adult is all about…being able and willing to do the hard things and to keep my word, to myself as well as others.

And yes, there’s reward when I meet my goals. I’ve felt the pride of accomplishment, known the satisfaction of a job well done, or meeting a personal challenge.

But the hard work comes first.

I’ve been telling myself many things are easy if I just plan enough, hope enough, dream enough. The reality is that goal setting is simple. Accomplishing is difficult. Not easy.

How about you? Have you shifted any paradigms recently?

I’m all out of easy tasks. I have more work to do.

That’s another part of the story. The more I succeed, the more I become a self-fulfilling prophecy. I’m writing my narrative of achievement, one goal at a time. The more I do, the more I see I’m capable. I’m encouraged to keep going, keep reaching, keep succeeding.

Go ahead and list your goals. Tell yourself they’ll be hard to accomplish.

Then get ready for the battle.

Be a truth-teller, and an adult, capable of doing hard things.

Set your narrative.

If you do all that, you’ll find success will be simple.

And maybe…easy?









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