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Why Simple Wins in This Complicated World

Why Simple Wins in This Complicated World

There are two kinds of people in the world: simplifiers, and complicators.

Complicators, they seem blind or fearful of simple solutions. Everything they do, they do it in the most difficult and complex manner. From a distance, this looks like they thrive on challenges.

Simplifiers, on the other hand, are the opposite. They avoid complications of any kind. They can be mistaken for people who only do the minimum amount of work needed to get by.

The difference between these two kinds of people becomes obvious when they are required to write an essay or report. Even if they are writing about the exact same thing, the complicator will write far more than the simplifier. From a distance it will look like the complicator wrote the better piece, after all, its longer, and possibly more detailed.

    However, it needs to be asked, does more automatically mean better?

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    More + Complex = Better?

    It’s human nature to want more, we find interest in the difficult and complex. When we get more of something, we feel it is strangely worthwhile.

    Our technological progress focuses a lot on more. For decades a phone was something used to call people. Now our phones are web browsers, cameras, gaming devices… When we see something that has many different uses and functions, we assume it is better than similar items.

    For example, would you buy a pencil that is great for drawing and writing, and comes with no other features, or a pencil that comes with lots of other features?

      Most of us would go with the second option, even though in many ways its the inferior.

      Complexity Is Appealing but Not Practical

      Complexity might make something seem more attractive, but the complications may actually subtract from something rather than add. It doesn’t help to make something effective. But complexity is easy, simple can be difficult to achieve.

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      Edsger W. Dijkstra, one of the founding fathers of modern computer programming said,

      “Simplicity is a great virtue but it requires hard work to achieve it and education to appreciate it. And to make matters worse: complexity sells better.”

      Great pieces of work only emerge when you take things away from it. For example, the Declaration of Independence was heavily edited by Benjamin Franklin before he officially released it.

      The first line originally read: “We hold these truths to be sacred and undeniable…” 

      This is close to it, but there is something lacking. So Benjamin Franklin got rid of the last three words and replaced them with two.

      Soon it read: “We hold these truths to be self-evident”

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        The difference is immediate and striking in its precision.

        Simplicity Gets More Things Done

        If you begin to see the beauty and efficiency in simplicity, you’ll be clearer about the purpose of something and find problems less overwhelming.

        Think about that multi-feature pencil again, do we really need that many functions out of a pencil? No. What we truly need is a pencil that makes writing and drawing easy. It’s that simple.

          Simplifiers always look into seemingly complex problems, interpret them, break them into smaller parts and re-organize them.They are aware of unnecessary input of their work which may complicate anything. Their goal is to simplify a problem in order to be clear about the root cause of it and solve them in the simplest way, which saves cost and effort.

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          When you start to make things simple, you can improve your productivity and get closer to success. It all boils down to trimming away unnecessary weight and baggage from your life which slows you down.

          Make It Simple, but Significant

          So ask yourself: are you a simplifier or a complicator? If you think that you lean towards being a complicator, don’t worry, it’s not something permanent. It can be useful to go from a complicator to a simplifier. All you need to do is follow two core rules:

          1. A Clear Intention

          This might be obvious, but before you set out to do something, you should be 100% certain about exactly what it is you want to do. If there is any uncertainty, your lack of understanding will be manifested in useless extras and complications.

          2. Kill your Darlings

          The name of this comes from the great writer (and master simplifier) William Falkner. It boils down to this.

          If you’re working on something, and you do something great (perhaps write a fantastic sentence) in a project, and it doesn’t work with the rest, then you must get rid of it. Essentially, it doesn’t matter how you feel about something, if it doesn’t work with the core idea, you must get rid of it. Getting rid of bad stuff is easy, but it takes a pro to see great stuff and remove it for the greater good.

          Use this simple trick to decide what to keep and what to ditch: Must Have, Should Have, Good to Have. If it’s a must-have item, keep it; a should-have one, trim it; a good-to-have one only, consider deleting it.

          Simplification can massively increase your productivity, but this takes practice. If you want to learn more about simplifying, I recommend this article: How Being A Minimalist At Work Can Make You More Successful

          More by this author

          Leon Ho

          Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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          Last Updated on November 20, 2019

          How to Measure a Goal? (With Examples of Measurable Goals)

          How to Measure a Goal? (With Examples of Measurable Goals)

          Everyone sets goals. Whether they are daily goals like completing a project, personal aspirations like traveling the world, or even workplace targets, setting a goal isn’t enough to get you over the line unfortunately. This is why only eight percent of people achieve their goals.[1]

          So how do the high achievers do it?

          By setting measurable goals, keep track of them and progress towards these goals.

          To help you out, I’ve put together a simple guide on measuring goals. I’ll show you a SMART framework you can use to create measurable goals, and how you can track its progress.

          To begin, let me introduce you to the SMART acronym.

          What Is a Measurable SMART Goal?

          SMART stands for Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. They help set clear intentions, this way, you can continue staying on course.

          When you’re writing a SMART Goal, you need to work through each of the terms in the acronym to ensure it’s realistic and achievable.

          It’ll help you set specific and challenging goals that eliminate and vagueness and guesswork. It’ll also have a clear deadline so you know when you need to complete it by.

          Here’s what SMART stand for:

          Specific

          Your goals need to be specific. Without specificity, your goal will feel much harder to complete and stick to.

          They should also have a specific outcome. Without the outcome, it will be hard to focus and stay on task with your goals.

          I can’t stress this enough. In fact, two researchers Edwin Locke and Gary Latham, found that when people set specific yet challenging goals, it led to increased performance 90 percent of the time.[2]

          Here’s an example of a specific goal:

          Increase sales by 10% in 90 days. 

          Measurable

          You need to be able to measure these goals.

          Examining a key metric and quantifying your goals will help track your progress. It will also identify the mark at which you’ve completed your task.

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          Measurable can mean many different things, but generally speaking, you want to be able to objectively measure success with a goal.

          Whether it’s via analytical data, performance measures, or direct revenue, ensure your goal is quantifiable.

          Achievable

          Why do you want to reach this goal? Is it important for you or your organization?

          Once you identify the key benefit, add that into your goal, so it helps your team members understand the importance of the goal and how it contributes to the bigger picture.

          Relevant

          Why do you want to reach this goal? Is it important for you or your organization?

          Once you identify the key benefit, add that into your goal so it helps your team members understand the importance of the goal and how it contributes to the bigger picture.

          Timely

          This is one of my favorite parts of SMART goals….setting the deadline.

          The timeframe will create a sense of urgency. It functions as a healthy tension that will springboard you to action.

          Examples of Measurable Goals

          Now that we know what a SMART goal is, it’s time to help you make your own SMART goal.

          Let’s start with the first step: specificity.

          Specific

          A specific goal should identify:

          • What’s the project or task at hand?
          • Who’s responsible for the task? If you’re breaking the task down, who is responsible for each section?
          • What steps do you need to do to reach your goal?

          Here’s a bad example:I want to have a better job.

          This example is poor because it’s not specific enough. Sure, it’s specific to your work, but it doesn’t explain whether you want a promotion, a raise, a career change, etc.

          What about your current job do you want to improve? Do you want to change companies? Or are you striving for more work-life balance? What does “better” really mean?

          Let’s transform this into a good example.

          I want to find a new role at a Fortune 500 company that improves my current salary and work-life balance.

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          If you’re not too sure what the specific outcome should be, you can use mindmaps to brainstorm all the possible options. Then choose a few or one from the mindmap.

          With the example above, to become a better growth marketer, I have to explore different learning options like online courses, blogs, books, or in-person courses before I made a decision.

          Measurable

          Goals need to be measurable in a way where you can present tangible, concrete evidence. You should be able to identify what you experience when reaching that goal.

          Ideally, you should go for a metric or quantity as quantifying goals makes it easier to track.

          Here’s a bad example:

          I will get a promotion at work for improving quality

          Here’s a good example:

          I am going to land a promotion to senior VP by improving my work quality. When I say work quality, I will measure this by projects completed, revenue earned, and success factors important to my superiors.

          If you’re having difficulty measuring your goals, you can use a goal tracking app. They’re a great way to measure your progress, especially if it’s time-based.

          In addition, I love to use the following strategy to keep myself accountable and ensure I’m hitting goals:

          Reminder emails.

          I schedule emails to myself asking for measurable data on my goals, and even CC others to hold me accountable.

          For example, if you work with a team, CC them on your email to keep yourself honest and on-track.

          Here are five methods you can use to measure your progress towards the goal:

          1. Keep a record – Have you recorded all your actions?
          2. Assess your numbers/evidence – Are you breaking your commitments?
          3. Create a checklist – Can you simplify your tasks?
          4. Stay on course – Are you moving forward with your plan smoothly?
          5. Rate your progress – Can you do better?

          Achievable

          When it comes to being able to achieve your goals, you should stick to Pareto’s principle. If you’re not too sure what it is, it’s the 80/20 rule.

          Don’t just attack and go for everything at once! Pick things that give you the most results. Then, work on the next objective or goal once you’ve completed your first ones.

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          Here’s a bad example:

          To get more work-life balance, I will examine all factors of my work and how to trim down the time I spend on them.

          Here’s a good example:

          This week I will record my time spent on projects to analyze the amount of revenue or success they generate. Projects that fall short of production will get less time and resources than others. 

          Relevant

          It’s always important to examine your goal to ensure it’s relevant and realistic to what you’re doing.

          This is where the bigger picture comes in.

          Here’s a bad example:

          I want to be promoted to CMO because I need more responsibility.

          In this case, it’ll be unlikely for you to receive a promotion if the purpose and reason behind your goals are not strong.

          Here’s a good example:

          I want to be promoted to CMO because I enjoy digital marketing. I’m currently excelling in X, Y, and Z digital marketing practices, and I believe that via a promotion I can further grow the business via X, Y and Z.

          The why will help you grind out in moments when you just want to throw in the towel, and also provide more purpose for your goals.

          Timely

          And…finally we’ve hit the deadline.

          Having a due date helps your team set micro goals and milestones towards the goal.

          That way, you can plan workload throughout your days, weeks, and months to ensure that your team won’t be racing against the clock.

          Let’s start with a bad example:

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          I’m going to land a new promotion this summer.

          Now, let’s turn this into a great example:

          Within the next month I will increase marketing revenue by XX%. Then, within three months I will expand the digital team, hire two new employees and scale it. Within five months I will leverage this success into a new role.

          So that’s how you create a measurable goal.

          Here’s a summary of the example above in the order of its acronyms.

          Overall Goal: I want to transition into a new role with a reputable company.

          • S: I want to find a new role at a Fortune 500 company that improves my current salary and work-life balance.
          • M: I am going to land a promotion to senior VP by improving my work quality. When I say work quality, I will measure this by projects completed, revenue earned, and success factors important to my superiors.
          • A: This week I will record my time spent on projects to analyze the amount of revenue or success they generate. Projects that fall short of production will get less time and resources than others.
          • R: I want to be promoted to CMO because I enjoy digital marketing. I’m currently excelling in X, Y, and Z digital marketing practices, and I believe that via a promotion I can further grow the business via X, Y and Z.
          • T: Within the next month I will increase marketing revenue by XX%. Then, within three months I will expand the digital team, hire two new employees and scale it. Within five months I will leverage this success into a new role.

          But before we finish off, I want to leave you with a note:

          If you want to ensure you reach your goals, make sure you’re accountable. Ensure that you will stick by the goal and deliver the results that you want. Because sometimes, the goal might not just be for you. It could be goals for your clients, customers, and even loved ones.

          For example:

          Here, Housecall Pro promises customers that they grow up to 30% in one year.

          By placing that statement on their landing page, they’re keeping themselves and their goals accountable to their customers.

          For personal goals, tell your friends and family.

          For professional goals, you can tell your peers, colleagues, and even your clients (once you’re ready).

          Bottom Line

          So to wrap things up, if you want to measure a goal, be SMART about it.

          Start with a specific outcome in mind; make sure it’s measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely to your existing schedule.

          While 92 percent of people fail to reach their goals, you can be the exception.

          Reach your goals by setting targets and objectives together.

          More About Goals Setting

          Featured photo credit: Green Chameleon via unsplash.com

          Reference

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