Keep It Simple, Cut The Shortcuts

I’d like to think this blog isn’t just another article scolding you for being too busy and telling you to simplify your life…but maybe it is?

One of the many lessons that the gym has taught me is that, more often than not, simplicity works. Setting your goals, focusing on main exercises, planning a basic schedule, tracking your workouts, following progressive overload, being patient – it’s all simple and effective. I remember when I was playing basketball in high school and I so desperately wanted to increase my vertical so I could dunk with ease. I dreamed of throwing down a dunk to win the game. So I searched the internet far and wide for that “secret program” that would get me there. “Double your vert in 8 weeks”, “Gain 3 inches with this one trick!”, “Want to learn the SECRET to unlocking your vertical potential?” You’ve seen these sort of ads, you’ve shaken your head, asked how anyone could fall for them…then you put your email address in and clicked “here”. At least once, am I right?

If I could go back and give my high school self a lesson, besides suggesting some wardrobe adjustments, I would say that all those promised shortcuts, secrets, “get rich quick” schemes usually don’t work. You’ve probably heard at least one old man tell you that nothing is truly free, and he was very right. I know it’s cliché but what is almost guaranteed to work and lead to success is patience, hard-work, and methods that are tried-and-true. There are different paths, there are some tips and tricks, there are new developments, but for the most part, your best bet is to keep it simple and grind.

Ironically, when we try to take shortcuts, we often end up just complicating things and facing certain repercussions. Searching for that perfect vertical jump program, I stumbled across a brutal routine that promised to add 8-16 inches to my jump in 4 months (or something like that). It consisted of hundreds of reps per day of high impact, high intensity jumping exercises. Thankfully, I didn’t make it very far. This type of training is not only quite unproductive, it can be very detrimental to your joint health. It was the definition of over training and any realized gains would be fleeting and probably accompanied by some serious ankle, knee, and hip pain, if not worse.

These negative effects can be felt as a result of other types of shortcuts as well. Those looking to get rich quick with the stock market may find their bank account deflated; shortcuts in class result in failing grades or poor on-the-job performance; a program that promises to make you a certified professional in 30 minutes leaves you with little to no credibility.

Also ironically, shortcuts deprive you of the very experience that would allow you to be successful in the first place.

I have also noticed that in most cases, sinful behavior leads to complication. Greed may lead to paranoia or envy. A friend who betrays the trust of another forever changes the dynamic of their relationship. An unfaithful spouse not only hurts the family deeply but forever complicates their lives.

All this is not to say that when we’re busy or our lives are complicated we are living in sin, but it’s interesting to see how sin can lead to complication and how the happiest among us often lead the simplest lives.

We live in crazy times, we’re busy, we have meetings, we have events. I know I’m not about to give up my phone or defenestrate (from the latin de – from, and fenestra – window) my computer. I think simplicity comes from ensuring your priorities are in order and your endeavors support those priorities. When I find myself in a rut, I try to remember what really matters. In my humble opinion, focusing on the F words is a great place to start: Faith, Family, and Friends.

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