Having more options seems like it means more freedom.
But the opposite is true.
The fewer options, the more simplicity, freedom, and success you have.
The more options, the more decision, stress, and overwhelm you experience.
This is why I only wear neutral colors. This constraint makes my life better.
In this episode, I show you how you can use constraint to reduce the stress and overwhelm in your life, and at the same time simplify and have more success.
Here are more of my favorite resources for constraint:
- How Only Wearing Neutrals Makes My Life Simpler + Easier (blog post)
- Beating Overwhelm (podcast)
- 7 Steps To Stop Feeling Overwhelmed (blog post)
- Personal Development Master Class (free training)
Full Episode Transcript
Hey there. How are you doing this morning? I am so excited to be with you. I just sat down, it’s Monday morning on my end and I am recording this for you. After getting ready, I did my full hair and makeup as I always do every morning no matter what. It is a one of the constraints that I have in my life and that there is absolutely no chatter about it no matter what unless I am like deathly ill.
I shower in the morning and I do my full hair and makeup just like I would on a Monday morning as if it was a Friday and I’m going out. This makes my life better. It is a conscious decision. I really enjoy the process and I know that I’m always ready to go wherever I feel really good about it. Why am I telling you this?
Because I want to talk with you today about constraint and the magic that it brings. A constraint is a limitation or restriction that you put on yourself intentionally. It is creating a rule in a specific area of your life. The reason that you do this is to simplify your life and create amazing results.
I first heard about this or articulated in this way from Brooke Castillo, my mentor and coach, and she got it from Todd Herman from the 90 day year, but this idea isn’t original to them. You’ve probably heard about it. I’ve talked about only setting a one goal. I have talked about only taking a one course at a time and I really just want to explore this idea with you so that you really know how magical it is. It will simplify your life and it will allow you to create amazing results.
The reason that this matters is because we are all indulging in overwhelm. There are too many options, too many choices, too many things for us to do so that we just do nothing. I want to talk a little bit about the enormous constraint I have had in the last year with my business. I took Six Figure Blogger a blogging course and I made a promise to myself that I only would do every single thing in that course if I was going to invest in it until I finished.
It has taken me a year to do that and what this meant was that for the last year I did not take another course at all. I implemented everything in that course and what this did was free up my mind from any overwhelm and kind of the want to do all of the other courses that I love so much because I knew that if I wanted the results that I wanted, I had to go all in.
When you go all in on something, you the results and it freed up my mind, so I was just thinking on creating digital products. I have created digital products for the last year, almost a year and a half really, and it has taken a lot of mental energy. If I had been trying to do other things in my business at the same time, it would not have worked as successfully. Right.
I started this podcast and I’m doing coaching now at the end of my digital products. I did not do them all at once. This was a very intentional choice. I will tell you, I can see on the backend how many people go through all of my courses completely and it’s a very small percentage. What happens is we get really excited, we take a course, we get, you know, half the way through it and then quote unquote life happens or there’s a reason why we just stop.
It’s nothing about the course. It’s about our own discipline. When you put a constraint in your life where you say, Hey, I am committed to only taking courses and only investing in myself where I know I am going to follow through to the very end. You are so much more strategic with your investments and how you spend your money, but also how you spend your time and the result is that you actually get the results that you’re supposed to get when you take the course.
It works amazingly well and this isn’t just something that I stumbled upon. I’ve made it a very intentional choice because I love courses. I love learning. I love passive action, but in order to get results, I have to take massive action and actually do the work and it’s scary, but with constraint, I make it happen in my head.
I know that eventually I am going to be speaking and doing live events. That is something that I’m mentally preparing for in maybe 2020 2021 there are things that I want to do in the next year in 2019 coaching specifically starting that group coaching program that I will have a constraint where I’m just focused on that and as I just focus on one area of my business at a time, I can go all in and get those results. I will tell you, it is so hard. There are so many opportunities.
The more success you have that it makes it very, very difficult because you feel like you’re missing out. But when you have this rule, this constraint in your life, it’s, it’s honestly, it just removes the chatter. You might want to do it, but you know that it’s best for you that you don’t.
So I want you to think about any area of your business or your career and think about where you’re spreading yourself too thin and how you can add some constraint to that area of your life. But it’s not just for business, it’s not just for entrepreneurs, it’s for every single area of your life. Another example is that I only wear neutral colors. I love clothes and I like to look nice. I like to feel good. It makes me feel good when I look very nice.
I would buy whatever I wanted and I would end up with this closet full of things that had no cohesive brand or style. So I made an intentional choice to only wear neutral colors. The reason is because I would spend so much time in the morning thinking about what to wear. And what happens is when you put a constraint in your life, you reduce all of those decisions.
Like I literally have to make fewer decisions because I know, Hey, I only wear neutral colors. That means that the store, I only buy neutral things. Everything matches. It’s like having a, you know, a uniform that’s just ready to go and I don’t spend as much time picking out things to wear because everything kind of goes together. So there’s not really a wrong choice. I know that I love everything that I own. This is just one way that I bring constraint into my personal life.
Another huge example is food. I don’t eat meat or dairy. As of a year and a half ago, I was a huge steak and potato girl loved the Mac and cheese, love blue cheese, all of the cheese and I gave it up. I am not vegan, I’m not pescatarian. It literally is just my own constraint that if it looks like meat or it looks like dairy, I don’t eat it.
This is just for health reasons for myself, but this is an example of constraint. Now, if I ate meat or dairy, sometimes it would have a lot of chatter in my mind about when can I eat it? Can I not eat? It? Is today an exception when you just have a rule that you’re not going to do this, it’s so much easier. There’s no decision about it and you already do this in your life. There are certain things that you just don’t eat right.
You might not like certain foods and you don’t eat them. That’s a constraint might be just based on your preference instead of some intentional, you know, rule that you created. But if you do this for food, it will help you live a healthier life. You won’t rely on your food for entertainment. It doesn’t mean that you don’t enjoy food, but you’re just very intentional about it so that you are living like your best, healthiest life.
And it also makes it a lot easier to maintain or lose weight. Another way to do this is to remove certain things like snacking. You know, you pick what times of day you eat. I am very, um, in awe of the people who say, you know, I eat like one meal a day or two meals and no snacks. I think that’s definitely like where I’m going. I’m just not there yet, but I really like to play around with constraint and food because it’s something that I think is kind of fun.
Another way that you can see this is if you make that decision ahead of time, you won’t have to use your willpower. So think about if you look at a menu before you go to a restaurant and you decide what you’re going to get, you will not have to use willpower in the moment to say no to the French fries.
If I am at the restaurant, I am saying yes to those French fries. But if I look at the menu ahead of time and choose consciously without being in the moment, I almost never choose the French fries. So this is just another way that you can put constraint in your life. Look at the menu ahead of time. When I was moving to Chicago, I had two different areas in mind of where I wanted to live and then I found two different apartments to look at just two, and I did this intentionally because I knew that if I opened up my options to all of the apartments available in Chicago, I would be so overwhelmed with decisions that I wouldn’t be able to choose or it would be just so much more difficult than it really needed to be. It’s just an apartment. It’s not that big of a deal.
Your brain will go into freak out mode when you do this and you’ll think that you’re missing out on something. But then when you actually take the action and choose everything is better. I had a friend reach out to me recently who was moving out of state as well and he was experiencing a little bit of overwhelm with all of the options he had for places to live.
So many different apartments. He couldn’t choose going to different places. And I said, give yourself a list of five and choose, you know, one and give yourself a deadline to choose that one. And I swear within a few days he already had an apartment and the reason is because when you give yourself all of the options, there are way too many options to consider and there’s just no right decisions. So you just do nothing and you indulge in that overwhelm.
I actually had the same experience when I was choosing what city to move to. If I had considered all of the cities, I mean it would have been so overwhelming for me to choose, so I narrowed it down to just a handful and then ended up choosing Chicago very quickly. If you’ve ever bought a house, you know this all too well as well. One of my girlfriends was buying a house last year and the amount of decisions that she had to make, I mean the amount of houses she was looking at, it was crazy how much it filled her mind.
This is true with every area of our lives. Anytime that we’re choosing something, there are so many different options. It even goes for like dating, right? As soon as you pick a partner or you get married, you just have one spouse. All of that chatter about who to date is gone and trust me there is a lot of chatter when you are dating and you just want to just choose that one and then eliminate it, right and then some people don’t eliminate it and there are consequences for that.
It’s more complicated when you don’t, when you just go all in on one and you have this rule and constraint in your life, it is so much simpler and you have so much more energy and mental space to focus on that and then that’s where you go deep and you get the results that you want so badly. I think the reason that we don’t do this is because we have this fear of missing out. We want to quote unquote keep our options open, but keeping your options open is a huge mistake.
I mean just in the examples I gave you with the apartment, you see that your mind just goes complete overwhelm. It’s the same thing in your business. You can’t go deep and commit to one thing. If you have all of this chatter, you may not want to eliminate those options, but if you, if you don’t, you’re constantly in decision making mode so you can’t take action and get the results that you want and you have this added layer of stress that you don’t even realize.
It’s completely unnecessary. This is why I always recommend just having one big goal at a time. Your brain can spend so much more time thinking about that goal and and making it happen for you then if you have all of these other mini goals going on, it’s like if you want to lose a bunch of weight or make a bunch of money, you need to go all in on that one goal. Like that’s it.
Like get rid of all the clutter in your mind about all of the other, you know, options you have and just go all in this year I’m going to triple my income and that is the goal. And then just focus on that. I have tried to have two different goals a year and I’m telling you it doesn’t work for me. Of course I can have these like very small habits that I want to increase or add to my life.
I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about the big goal. You just have one of those big goals. It’s your constraint and that is your focus and I’m telling you, I just, from my own experience, let alone like all the other people I see do it, but in my own life it’s like that is where I get the results. I consciously choose ahead of time what I’m going to focus on and constrain my life too and that way, that’s where all of my mental energy is and that’s how I get the amazing results and that’s exactly how you can do it too.
Now I want to talk a little bit about the results you’ll have in your life. When you do this, you will have increased focus. You will have increased commitment, you will have increased discipline, you will have increased productivity. You will eliminate all of that decision fatigue and chatter and overwhelm.
It is one of the most amazing, amazing tools. As soon as you make a decision, you free up your mind to just focus on that thing. And that’s how you dig deep and that’s how you get those amazing results. When you commit to something, you get so much freedom and your discipline, you, you increase your discipline so much and you’ll notice that by increasing your discipline in this one area, it will carry over into other areas of your life. Your brain can focus on anything that you want it to.
So when you tell it to focus on one thing, you will constrain your thinking to that one goal and your brain can create so much more than if you have all of this chatter about you know everything else you know in your life where you haven’t eliminated those decisions. Because when you make decisions ahead of time, you literally eliminate the need to make more decisions.
You’re not wondering what you’re going to eat. All the chatter is gone. You don’t eat after 7:00 PM you don’t eat meat all the chatter about it is gone. It’s where you’re kind of like, sometimes I do this, sometimes I don’t that you’re going to have all of that chatter still.
Another amazing result from this that I did not even expect is that I have so much more increased productivity. You’re so laser focused when you have constraints in your life that your mind is only working on that one thing and then your productivity skyrockets. I saw this in the last year when I tripled my income from only focusing on one thing in my business and it was creating digital products.
By doing that, I produced so much, I produce three different eBooks and three different courses and I would not have been able to do that in one year had I not been so focused and constrained to, you know, being committed to this one course and doing everything in it and producing only digital products and that’s what I did and I was so much more disciplined.
My productivity was greater last year than it has ever been in my life and I’ve seen this carry over into other areas. A lot of people will say that I’m just very disciplined, but it’s intentional. I don’t just wake up and think that I am going to be super disciplined all of a sudden. I have constraints in my life. I’ve made these decisions ahead of time because I want to simplify my life and get amazing, amazing results and it really, really works, which is super fun and that’s why I want you to do it in your life too.
You can literally create almost anything that you can imagine and you probably don’t even give yourself enough time to imagine the possibility of creating from your future. When you do this and you constrain what you were thinking about to one goal, your brain can come up with so much more and it can give you so much more freedom and a much clearer outlook and so much more discipline and productivity for what you actually want to produce in your future.
So you already do this, right? You already do this with food. You might already do this with clothes. You definitely do it in ways that you probably haven’t even thought about. You probably don’t do drugs um certain you know you’re not going to do heroin or cocaine. Those are constraints. You don’t break the law.
You know those are constraints. It’s just adding this layer of doing it intentionally to take you from where you are now to get you to the next level. So if you want to accomplish a financial goal or you want to lose weight or you want to start a business, whatever it is that you want to do, you can use constraint to help you do it. It is a way to get you to focus and be disciplined and get the results that you want in a much less overwhelming way.
So what I want you to do today is to think about an area of your life that you would like to add a constraint to. And this should generally be an area where you are struggling or you feel overwhelmed or frustrated. It can be you know, your health, your money, your business, productivity at work, whatever it is. Choose an area.
I like to go with the eight life categories. So you have health, relationships, money, career, or business, personal or spiritual development, environment like your home or office space, recreation and fun and service and contribution. Choose one of those areas and add a constraint to your life. An example would be you’re going to choose intentionally what you’re going to wear and you’re going to stick to certain colors like I did the neutrals, or you’re going to choose only the foods that you want to eat.
You’re going to write them down. You’re only going to eat certain things at certain times and maybe you don’t snack anymore. Something like that. If you’re an entrepreneur, I want you to think about how you can add a constraint to what you’re working on in your business. How can you just choose one thing to focus on until you’re done with it? You know, for the next 30 days, 90 days, year, whatever it takes for me tends to be on a yearly basis cause I go big.
But if it’s something smaller, maybe you’re just producing one digital product and you’re going to do that for one month. Same thing if you’re taking courses. I really love the passive action rule of learn one, implement one. That way I am only committed to taking one course at a time and I actually get the results that I want.
Add this to your life, whatever you think that you would value from tremendously and it would reduce all of those decisions. I want you to add it. Then I want you to commit to this new constraint for at least 30 days. Hopefully you can just do it forever, but at least give yourself 30 days because when you first do this, especially if it’s something that’s causing you frustration or overwhelm, you are going to experience some pain.
It is not going to feel amazing. It’s going to feel like pressure or like you’re trapped or stuck or something like, no, I want to eat that and, but give yourself credit. Stick to it. You’ve made the decision. Don’t negotiate with yourself. Allow yourself to feel and experience, that pain, feel the urge and don’t act on it. You made the decision and now honor it. Your brain is just freaking out and that’s okay.
When you do this and when you put constraints in your life, you are going to reveal the relationship you have with yourself. You know, are you willing to honor your commitments that you made to yourself? If I say I’m going to take a class and I pay for it and then I implement every single thing in it and it takes me a full year, I have to be able to say no to every opportunity that comes up in that year for me to take another class. Something that doesn’t align with what I’m focusing on, I have to be willing to make that massive action list and put every single thing on my calendar from that course and then honor doing it when the day comes, do it. But when you do this, just like I did in the last year, it gives you a reward that you can’t even imagine.
It is so amazing. It’s challenging, but it’s as good as done when it’s on your calendar and you know that you’re committed to it. Most people won’t do this and that has to do with the relationship you have with yourself. So I want you to notice that that’s what’s happening there and start small maybe and just reward yourself for sticking to that one constraint.
So maybe it’s you know, you want to lose weight and so instead of coming up with this food plan that you already are having doubts about, maybe you just add one constraint like, okay, I am no longer eating dessert, just done, I’m done with dessert, all desserts. Or if that’s too much, you know, maybe you don’t eat at a certain time, whatever it is that you want to commit to, commit to it for 30 days and give yourself credit, like honor that commitment to yourself and notice that, Hey, I’m building this relationship with myself.
And the more that you do that, the more that you follow through, the more that you’re going to want to follow through. And then you can add the bigger goals and the bigger constraints and you can get really, really good at it. And this is how you’re going to like 10 X the results you have in your life. It’s going to reduce that decision fatigue so that you stop negotiating with yourself.
And you just have so much more discipline and so much more love for yourself and then when things come up in your future, you find that you just naturally gravitate towards this. Like I didn’t have to think about, Oh, I need to put a constraint in my life for choosing apartments in Chicago. I just naturally defaulted to knowing that if I give myself all of the options in Chicago, I will never be able to pick a place it will be so unnecessarily overwhelming.
Went and saw two places, picked one, got it done in a weekend. That is the kind of skill set that you will adopt and hone when you focus on adding constraints little by little to your life and your life is so much simpler, you can have so much more freedom. It’s like the opposite of what you think, right? You think, Oh my gosh, it’s so boring to only eat certain things. It’s so boring to only wear neutral colors, but I’m telling you the exact opposite is true.
I have so much more freedom. I’m so much healthier. I don’t really look to my food to entertain me. I feel like I look good in my clothes without having to waste so much time and energy on what I’m wearing. The more you constrain, the fewer decisions you have to make, and I truly believe that your willingness to subtract and miss out on things will directly relate to your ability to do and create really amazing things in your future.
So after this podcast episode, I want you to think of a way that you can add a constraint to an area of your life causing frustration. Stick to that constraint for at least 30 days. Feel the pain, feel the urges, and see if you can get it to become your new default, where you just live that way and honor those commitments and see how your relationship with yourself improves and all of the freedom that it gives your mind.
If you want more of this kind of stuff, you can join me in my personal development course, Design Your Dream Life Academy, which is at designyourdreamlifeacademy.com I also have a goal setting workbook, Nataliebacon.com/dream-year and I have a free Dream Life Training. Nataliebacon.com forward/dreamlifetraining. All of that stuff is over on my website. Have an amazing, amazing week. I will see you next time.
Thank you for listening to the Design Your Dream Life podcast. Subscribe to the podcast to get the latest episodes sent directly to you. To learn more about designing your dream life visit NatalieBacon.com.