Constraints

Constraints

After my WebVisions talk last month, there were quite a few fantastic questions from the audience. One of them was, “When you're figuring out what you want to do with your life and how you want to be, how do you take into account the needs of others - like family?”

I clarified by addressing “children” in that “family” bucket, although it can apply to families of all types, really. But my initial answer was this:

All the best designs work within constraints.

I do not have unlimited time nor energy. My wife, son, and other family members all have their needs and wants too. So as I'm planning my days and choosing how to exist in this world, I must take them into account as well. Because, frankly, if I don't, then I'm not being truly myself.

What happens when specific goals or actions conflict with each other? I'm working through this right now: my wife and I made a number of choices that are super important to us, but other people in our family are less comfortable with them to the point of completely disagreeing with them. My old default reaction was to turn around and question my own decision – all in an effort to please the other person, putting my own joy and happiness aside.

But, that's not where my heart is anymore. Now I know these decisions – the ones that I feel are best for me and my family – lead to really uncomfortable conversations and possible consequences. I can't predict how other people will react, even with lots of experience, so my wife and I talked about a few possible outcomes and how we'd feel about them, and how we'd react as well. (This was instrumental, and really soothed the part of me that likes to plan everything out.)

This is a constraint, but an important one. Our decisions and actions have consequences, and how we handle them is also indicative of how we are in the world. No matter what I face, I remind myself of my intentions and work to apply them.