Instead I now look for constraints to sharpen my thinking, make better decisions and remind me of the truly important things in life. This approach takes two forms: acceptance of difficult situations and asking better questions.
When confronted by a situation that is less than ideal it is natural human tendency to throw our hands in the air, get frustrated and complain that life isn't fair. Whilst this is certainly the easier option it is hardly productive. Instead we need to take a deep breath, understand that life isn't fair, and that is ok, and then ask ourselves what we are choosing to miss by getting frustrated. Within every obstacle is an opportunity and it is our task to find it. We will more than often find that the new solution is actually better than our original strategy.
By asking yourself better questions you can harness the power of constraints to tighten your thinking and, in turn, increase your effectiveness. You can do this on a micro level by considering at the start of each day what 1-3 things, if completed, would make it a successful day. This pulls you out of an efficiency state, trying to do as many things as quickly as possible, to one of effectiveness, doing the important things and doing them right. You can also use this approach on the macro level by, for example, taking a long term goal, such as buying a house, and asking yourself what would it take to achieve this within a year. Again this challenges your creativity to think of innovative solutions.
Some of my favourite 'constraint' questions are:
- If I can only do X with a budget of X, how will I achieve it?
- If I only have 20mins to do X, what should I prioritise?
- What task, if completed, will make the others insignificant? (Lead domino Q)
- If I can only ask 1 person to help me with X, who would I ask?
- If I can only do 1 thing to put me in a more positive state, what would I do?
These are just a small selection of questions you could use to tighten your thinking and start making better decision. I encourage you to try this approach and see how it works for you.