Lessons From The Woods: Plan With No Constraints

Updated: Jan 30, 2020

At the end of the summer, as I was preparing to leave the camp I was working at and enter the realm of unemployment, I found myself in deep conversation with the camp's director (whom I have mentioned in other posts). Now, to be perfectly honest and transparent, I was basically having mental breakdown leading up to this conversation. You don't think straight when you are tired, so I'll attribute that meltdown partially to exhaustion, but it brought about one of the more impactful shifts in perspective that I've had of recent.

When I admitted I was scared that I wouldn't find work, the director asked me where I was in the job hunting process. It had been 3 years since I hadn't been employed, so I admitted that I didn't know where to start or where to go. In turn, he gave me this advice:

"Make all of your initial plans with absolutely zero constraints. Plan as if everything in the world is available for you and nothing is off limits. Then apply your constraints after that."

While I won't go into what that has looked liked on the job hunting front, I have found it to be excellent coaching and life advice.

Planning with no constraints, in essence, allows one to prioritize things in their lives simply and easily. Because when there are no barriers to getting to your end goal, you figure out all of the ways to get there. Then, by adding constraints you begin to prioritize the things that need to get done first in order to achieve the goal. Personally, I think this works well with training.

Imagine that as a coach, you have access to every single piece of training equipment that you want. You have everything you want in your weight room, you have the right staff:athlete ratio, you have the time slot you want, and all the recovery tools needed to train your athletes, who also have no limitations. Anything you want to do you can do. Then add your constraints.

As you add constraints, the cream rises to the top. Don't have time for all of those small stability exercises? Now you pick the ones that are absolutely necessary. You don't have any assistant coaches with you in a training session? Better pick the exercises that you coach the absolute best. Once you've created an unconstrained plan, your added constraints prioritize what you are going to do.

It's not easy at first. This much is certain, because a lack of constraints can be a downfall if you have no idea with what your end goal is. But after time it becomes a useful tool that helps expand your possibilities. For myself, it lead me to more job opportunities than I thought I'd ever find (in a way, because openings on job boards tend to be really old and hence unavailable). I found job opportunities on the other side of the country, and just outside driving range from my current residence. Once the opportunities were found, those that call back were able to weeded out due to the constraints that I then could place upon them.

If you're one who has a hard time with planning, which I openly admit is a downfall of mine, try starting to live with this advice in mind. Plan with absolutely no constraints, and after time you'll find a lot more freedom than you may be used to.

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