We often think that having more will make our lives easier. We believe that abundance and freedom could be the key to our fulfillment.
If we only had more time… more money… more options, we’d be able to do MORE! But is this the case?
The truth is that having constraints can be a powerful tool to simplify.
By having fewer options, we can do more.
Think of some examples in our everyday lives – how often do you find yourself scrolling through endless TV and movie options on streaming services? Or trying to figure out which clothing you want to wear in a full closet? Or what task you should work on next in your job?
Constraints also add meaning to our lives. There is the big constraint that rules all of our lives – time. We have a finite amount of time each day and in the totality of our lives. This time constraint gives purpose and value to living in the present moment.
Constraints provide us with guardrails on the road of life. They can sharpen our focus and strengthen our resolve.
How to Use Constraints
Think of how you could use constraints to simplify parts of your life. Some constraints are imposed by nature, such as time and certain resources. Other constraints can be self-imposed, like training for a race or completing a project by a deadline.
Here are a few types of constraints to consider:
- Constraints on Time – What can you get done in a fixed amount of time? If you have something you want to accomplish, set a date that it MUST be done by. Don’t give yourself the option to delay.
- Constraints on Money – Think about where you want your money to go. With a fixed supply, spending money on one item means you can’t spend/invest it on something else. A zero-based budget is a great way to practice this approach.
- Constraints on Actions – Set limits on what actions you take. By defining your personal values, you are constraining yourself to live an intentional life. For instance, if you value a healthy body, you constrain yourself to always work out 3-5 days a week.
- Constraints on Choices – If you have trouble making decisions, consider how you can constrain your choices. Create firm rules. Impose deadlines. Let your restrictions make you more decisive.
Think of your constraints as the edges of a canvas, giving you, the artist, the ability to create your masterpiece. Set your limits intentionally, so you can focus on living your simple life.