Is it really possible to be more successful by limiting yourself?
But limits are supposed to be evil and dirty; the enemies to our inner free spirit. Right?
Well what I’ve realized is that sometimes limits are actually the key to your success.
There are unconsciously ingrained self-limitations. And there are consciously chosen self-limitations.
Unconsciously habituated limitations are the kind that just happen to you. You didn’t really choose them, they just kind of showed up. They might be the result of human domestication, institutionalization, or public schooling. Wherever they come from, you probably didn’t consciously decide that you want those self-defeating limits as part of your automatic behavior. No one wants that. To choose something like that on a conscious level would be pretty silly.
So that type of limiting conditioning really sucks.
And it’s no wonder that we become so loathing to the sight or mention of limits.
But it turns out there is actually such a thing as positive limits. That sounds crazy, doesn’t it?
That’s what I first thought.
I’ve always been a kind of nonconformist. I’ve long had a streak of wanting to test limits, break rules, and everything else that goes along with a rebellious mindset. Getting into self-development only added to that, as most gurus and “experts” in the human development field will tell you “There are no limits, but the ones you place on yourself.”
Well, what they never really tell you is that some of those limits you place on yourself can be positive.
When you think of a “life without limits” you have a tendency to think that you can do anything. Which is true, to a certain extent. But the problem with the no limit perspective is that it avoids criticism because every critique is labeled as a “limitation.” Real legitimate issues are dismissed as impossibility thinking. Real legitimate problems are seen as selling yourself short, and stifling your potential.
But this is just part of it. The real issue comes when you see all limits as evil without any evaluation.
Because some limits are actually beneficial. Sure, you can do anything you want, but you can’t do everything. The no limit mindset doesn’t really like this idea, though; it avoids boundaries and dismisses them as snares that would hold it down.
Here’s the hidden irony:
The no-limit mindset is actually an act of limitation.
Once you’ve put yourself in a pattern of rejecting all limitation, you’ve embraced a fixed state of being. Your no-limit policy has deceptively limited you.
A few of the positive limits I’ve implemented
I’ve come to realize in my own life that some limitations are positive and necessary. They help me achieve greater levels of success than I could have without them.
- I limit myself by only focusing on one theme or direction for improvement each month.
- I limit myself to working on only the most important task every morning.
- I limit myself to a maximum of 90 minute periods of work, then take at least a 10 minute break.
- I limit the number of projects I will work on at a time.
- I limit myself to the number of times I will check email every day.
- I limit myself by not working on Saturday and Sunday.
- I limit the amount of time I spend on writing blog posts.
- I limit the number of coaching clients I will take on at a time.
These are just a few examples of way I embrace conscious limitation in my life.
I’m sure you can think of way that you can implement limits in your life, in a way that serves and empowers you. And the good news is, you don’t have to disband your quest to obliterate self-defeating limits. Just take an intelligent approach to the limits you let into your life.
Coming from someone who’s consistently blacklisted limits from his life, I can fervently tell you that they’re not all that bad. What matters is what you do with them. And more importantly, that you choose them, they don’t choose you.
Photo courtesy of Stewf