Shortage of money, shortage of time, lack of emotional support, lack of knowledge, poor health, incompetent subordinates.…, constraints are everywhere. They are the biggest contributors to our pressures and stress. You may even say that constraints are the only reason for our stress. They vary between tangible and emotional, between manageable and non-manageable, and between real and imaginary. Throughout our life, we keep dealing with them, knowingly or un-knowingly. We conquer some and fail on some. An analytical and conscious approach to overcome our constraints may facilitate better command over them and a better, stress free life as a result.
Let us discuss constraints in our lives, a little deeper.
Manage Constraint or Manage Aspiration
The most common resources, which most of us run short of, are money and time. Luckily, both of them are manageable provided our aspirations are near reality. Constraints can be managed either by managing the resource or by managing our aspiration. In most of the cases, we try and manage the resource which is short; if shortage of money for example, is the crisis, we should plan to increase earnings and savings; if time is the limiting factor, use better time management tools…, but if aspirations are unrealistic, manage them to release unnecessary pressures. Dream of quickly buying a 4 BHK house in a metro city may not be a practical situation for someone in hand to mouth situation. Spending 6-8 hours with children may be impractical for a celebrity or a business tycoon. Our aspirations should be practical.
The 3 Step Approach
Identify: Find out the real constraint/s that are causing pressure on you. It is at times difficult. We shout at our children and claim that they are becoming disobedient. In such situation, we consider behavior of the child as the reason for our stress. But after little analysis you may realize that behavior of children is absolutely normal. A work pressure or a money crisis made you short tempered. Poor children are not the reason but sufferer in such cases. Let us analyze the situation, cautiously. Find the real reason, the real constraint. Do not make a long list of constraints, instead identify 2-3 major constraints at a time, manage them, and then find on more.
Plan: Once constraints are known, decide if the resource should be managed or your aspiration should be corrected. Situation for each individual will be different in different circumstances. You should take a rational decision if your aspiration is realistic in given situation or not.
If the aspiration is genuine, decide if the crunch is real or just an imagination! We many times just assume certain things. For example, we may assume that civil systems are all corrupt and there is no hope for getting a job done without bribing people and repeated visits. Getting a Ration Card or a Driving License made in India, for example is believed to be a difficult job without mediators or bribe. Many of us do not even attempt. Our assumptions may not be real sometimes. So, analyze to see if the constraint is real!
Act: If both, aspiration and crunch are real then focus on methods to increase the resource. Do not take shortcuts as they may be harmful and may cause even more stress. Your approach should be right, legally and morally. To overcome a money crunch, you may think of; a change of job, part time job, income through some other legal source, may think of taking loan if you know you can conveniently repay it.
If time is the limit, plan your day better. Fix the large pebbles first. That is, decide time slots for major and necessary things first. Now fill the gaps with other important demands for your time. Many time-management techniques have been suggested by management experts. Examine and Follow them. Please also read "Emotions and Time Management", our issue dated May 1, 2011 for more on Time Management.
Similar planned action should be worked out for other constraints also. Identify major constrints one after the other, analyse, plan to overcome and act.
We shall continue this discussion in next issue of “theme of the week”.