What are your constraints?

I saw this old tweet of mine the other day:

As you might know this is a twist on the famous quote “we accept the love we think we deserve” taken from that John Green book or sth, stars, wallpapers, wallflower, ah perks of being a wallflower I think

And then this morning I was updating my life tracker spreadsheet, where I put quick commentaries on different areas of my life that day.

I have text wrapping on the cells and I find myself rearranging the text so it fits nicely, making sure nothing messes too much with the height, every cell balanced. And often they will always do. I am now looking at neatly lined rows with uniforn width and height. Surely it’s impossible that everything that happened that day fit nicely like that.

And it made me think….

We work with what we think we have

We fill the space we think we’re given

We raise up or shrink to the expectation we set or accept from others

We work with constraints

Rephrasing things to fit into Twitter character limitation.

Typing and rewording stuff to make it align perfectly in the life tracker spreadsheet (// OK this one is probably just me)

We stitch apps together to fill the gaps need filling in our day to day workflow. We use tools in ways they were not designed for. // related: 1) that book Kevin Kelly mentioned about designing buildings for flexibility and 2) the indirect functions / jobs we use apps for. I mulled over this briefly here

We just make do. We adapt and we get creative

The thing is, we can play with those constraints, more often than not, if not always // cue: everything is about framing.

Notice them, poke at them, question them.

The other thing you will find is that these constraints open up more opportunities than they do incur costs. // again, framing, aka stories or... rationalisation

You’d find out that apparently you can say the thing you want to say in just a couple of sentences. Apparently you can build a website with just a notepad and a 32MB RAM PC in 2001. Apparently you can manage more pull-ups than you thought you can / will.

I could” is often more stressful than “I should

I should” is sometimes more freeing than “I would

I could” is always less bounded than I think, if not infinitely unbounded.

But bounding them is where my power lies, and boy do I need it.


Also published on Medium.

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