It’s spring around here which means I’m spending a lot of my brain power (too much of my brain power) thinking about my gardens. I got excited last week about a shipment of asparagus plants arriving the same way someone sane might get excited about a shipment of hundred dollar bills arriving on their doorstop. Every year people look at me wistfully and say, “I wish I could grow a garden,” to which I always reply, “You can! It’s really easy!” This dazzling display of persuasiveness never seems to win anyone over. Most of the time, people just shake their heads and change the subject.
And then one day, it occurred to me. Growing a garden is simple – put seeds or plants in the ground, give them water and sunlight and pick when the veggies are ripe. You don’t need a Ph.D. to grow tomatoes. However, growing a garden isn’t easy. You need to prep the soil, plan out the beds, plant at the right time for the particular seeds or seedlings, water a lot, weed, watch out for things that eat or infect your garden and visit it every day so you can get a sense about what your garden looks like healthy and quickly deal with any problems that arise. No wonder some of my friends get scared off when I mention they should create a garden for themselves.
It’s a confusion between simple and easy.
Losing weight – simple. Eat better, exercise more. However it is not easy to choose the apple over the brownie, the salad over the french fries and boy, I’d love to run 5 miles every day, in theory…
Writing a novel – simple. Sit at the computer and string words together until you finish saying everything you want to say. But it is not easy to find the discipline to sit in that chair, day in and day out, not knowing if what you are writing is any good or if anyone will want to read it.
Following your passion – simple. Do what you love. What’s not easy is doing what you love consistently, day in and day out regardless of the initial results your seeing. Also, it’s not easy to do all the other pieces that support following your passion when those things are tedious, hard or necessary. And let’s not forget you have to make money while getting your passion off the ground and then still have energy to do something about it at the end of the day.
I think we sometimes confuse simple with easy and then we’re shocked when it’s so hard to make something happen. Or at the very least, we expect simple and easy to go hand in hand. Then, the moment we meet with some resistance- whether that’s five minutes into doing something or five months, we reel from the appearance of barriers.
Simple but NOT easy should be our mindset. No doubt you’ve heard the phrase, “If it was easy,everyone would be doing it.” And it’s true even if it’s a bit trite. And truthfully, I’ll take simple over easy any day. Simple means I don’t have to waste too much energy knowing what my goal or the next steps are. That frees up my energy to tackle the hard. If something is hard, I have to work at it, and if a little work is all it takes, well I can do that with the right mindset.
Confusing simple with easy can stop you before you ever get started. I’ve heard people say countless times, “I don’t understand why I can’t…(lose weight, make croissants, get my MBA), it’s so simple.” They are stuck on the fact that because they know the steps, it should just happen. Don’t focus on the wrong things- the real work is figuring out why you don’t make the right food choices or what’s stopping you from baking on the weekends or even why you chose to hit the bar in the evenings instead of the books. If you’re waiting for it to become easy, it will never happen. Simple and easy never go hand in hand (at least initially) for anything worthwhile in my experience. Though the work may eventually change and morph into something more enjoyable, it rarely gets any easier, your mindset around it just changes.
So consider those things you really want to accomplish in your life but never seem to make happen. Have you set up false expectations for yourself by confusing simple and easy? Try changing your expectations around it and see what happens. It’s ok for it to be simple AND hard.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some asparagus beds to build.