I used to have this problem where I was spending so much time and energy picking out what to wear.
The thing is, I reallllly like to look nice. I like clothes. I like feeling put together.
I think how you dress reflects how you show up in the world. I always want to give my best.
This is all fine until I realized it was taking up soooo much time on a daily basis.
What shirt? What pants? Should I wear a dress? What handbag? What shoes? Does it match? Is it too much for just a Monday?
And on and on.
So, I came up with the solution a couple years ago: only wear neutral colors.
Not only just neutral, but they have to fit within my two personal style words: simple and polished.
No wearing anything else. No buying anything else.
No, “oh this is sooo cute” then buying it and having nowhere to wear it to.
Everything matches. Everything looks chic.
The amount of decisions I make around clothes is exponentially fewer.
I still get to look nice. I still get to wear new and fun things.
But now I don’t spend nearly as much time thinking about what to wear.
I didn’t do this by accident.
I did it intentionally through a magical little tool called constraint.
Constraint is a limitation or restriction that you put on yourself intentionally.
You create a rule in an area of your life.
The reason you do this is to simplify your life and create amazing results.
Why Do This?
We are at a time in evolution where we have more options than ever before.
More options means more indulging in overwhelm.
Focusing on too many things at once means doing nothing. It’s not useful.
Why We Don’t Do This?
As humans, we have this fear of missing out – aka FOMO.
We think that “keeping our options open” is better.
This is s huge mistake.
Keeping your options open keeps you stuck.
Think about dating or getting married. When you’re single and dating your head is filled with so much chatter about who to date. When you choose one person, all that chatter is gone. Your mind is free from all the dating drama.
You may not want to eliminate the options, so you’re constantly in “making decision mode” and that adds a whole new level of stress to your life that you don’t even realize.
Examples Of Constraints That Make Life Simpler And Better
It’s not just neutral colors or what you wear that will make your life simpler and better.
You can add constraint in every area of your life.
Here are my favorite examples…
Adding a constraint around what you eat and when you eat is one of the best constraints you can have.
I have a constraint where I don’t eat meat or dairy. All the chatter about whether to eat something with meat or dairy is gone. It makes my life so much easier.
When you decide what to eat and when to eat it, you will have to adjust to your new constraint, but the result is you live healthier and you lose or maintain your weight.
People often have other food constraints like only eating one or two meals per day and no snacking.
The more rules you have in your life around food, the less you struggle with food. Life is better this way.
Adding the constraint of only working on 1 goal at a time will give you so much focus, discipline, and freedom.
Your mind will only think about that goal – not the 7 other goals you set.
With 1 goal, you can get incredible results.
You go deep. You produce more. You are disciplined.
I always only set 1 big goal per year. Any ancillary goals are very small habits that I may introduce. Why? Because I know if I want to be extremely successful, my mind needs to put all it’s mental power behind that single goal.
How you experience money is another area you can add constraint.
Some people have a constraint where they don’t go into debt for any reason.
I have a constraint where I only have one checking account, one savings account, and one credit card. This keeps my personal finances very simple and constrained.
Other people don’t ever lend money.
Some people donate 10% of their income no matter what.
Adding constraints to your money is a way to remove the need to make future decisions about what you’ll do with it. You make the decision now, you honor that decision, then you experience a much simpler way of living with your money. No stress around it. The decision is done.
4. Work Day
Most people work Monday through Friday. This is a constraint. Some people stop working at a certain time of day. That’s another constraint.
Having constraints around your time is one of the best ways to take control of your life.
Don’t want to work weekends anymore? Put a constraint in your life that you just don’t work Saturdays or Sundays. Period.
The Result Of Adding Constraints
When you add constraints to your life, you get amazing results.
You simplify your life. You achieve more. You have more discipline, focus, and clarity.
When you constrain yourself to certain things, your brain has space to focus only on that thing. You achieve your goal because your brain is so focused on that one goal.
You increase your self-discipline because you practice honoring your commitments.
You eliminate decision-fatigue by making decisions ahead of time so you literally have to make fewer decisions later.
Deciding ahead of time clears up the energy of the brain.
When you know exactly what you’re going to wear, eat, or work on, you have no chatter. All the chatter is gone. You can focus solely on what you’ve chosen and move on. It’s fantastic.
You Already Do This
You already do this in your life.
You don’t do drugs. You don’t smoke. You don’t break the law.
There are foods you just don’t eat because you don’t like them.
These are all constraints.
The magic is when you choose new constraints intentionally.
That’s where you can simplify your life and achieve whatever it is that’s in your heart.
How To Add Constraint To Your Life
Here’s the process for adding constraint to your life.
1. Choose 1 (or more) of the 8 life categories where you are overwhelmed or frustrated.
The 8 life categories are: health, relationships, money, career/business, personal/spiritual development, environment/home/office, recreation/fun, and service/contribution.
2. Think of what you can constrain in that area of your life, so you can improve.
Example: You only eat food that you write down and plan ahead of time. You stop snacking.
3. Commit to following your constraint for 30 days.
When you do this and it’s painful… that’s okay!
Allow yourself to experience the pain. Feel the urge. You’ve made the decision. Honor it. Your brain is just freaking out about what you’re afraid of missing out on. This is normal. Nothing has gone wrong.
The Effect Of Adding Constraint
When you create intentional constraints, you reveal the relationship you have with yourself.
Are you willing to honor your commitments you made with yourself?
If I say I’m going to take a class then implement everything in it and it takes me one full year, I have to be able to say no to every opportunity that comes up in that year. I have to be willing to make a massive action list and put every single action on my calendar, then honor doing it when the day comes.
Most people won’t do this.
But when you do this, you build a really strong relationship with yourself. You become accountable to yourself. The “You 2.0” version I teach in Design Your Dream Life Academy.
If this is new for you, start small. Practice.
When you stop negotiating with yourself and honor your commitments, you increase your discipline, productivity, and love for yourself.
A Final Note
Constraint is a magical tool.
Your willingness to subtract and miss out on things directly relates to your ability to do and create really amazing things.
You get a simpler life where your mind isn’t overwhelmed by thought drama.
You have room for the things that matter to you most.
You have more success.
And most importantly, you have a stronger relationship with yourself.
It’s a beautiful thing.