Why Limits Are Your Friend

Limits can be launchpads; boundaries can be blessings.

Sometimes when I get behind I get angry. I realize that this is not the best response. My to-do list shouldn’t determine my joy level.

So I was glad when I ran across this article. It’s about game designers who have used their limitations as springboards for innovation. A few examples:


The developers could have let the time crunch limit their creative vision. Instead, they used it to make something that would shape the industry (and much of my middle school experience).


The developers could have wasted a bunch of time and energy trying to make ladders and AI play nice. Instead, they realized it wasn’t that important and took a smart shortcut around it.


The developers could have complained about their constraints and settled for something unappealing. Instead, they used them to make something impressive.

The point? Deadlines, boundaries, and obstacles are often creative opportunities in disguise. Limits aren’t the enemy; limited thinking is.

We need structure and we know it. Are you more likely to complete a big project with no due date and unlimited resources or a small project with a looming deadline on a limited budget? Most of us don’t do well with “whatever” or “whenever.” These usually translate to never.

Innovation rarely happens without resistance. There’s a reason why necessity is called the mother of invention. Without a felt need we rarely succeed at anything noteworthy. For example, look at what the people of Cuba have done under Communism. When life gives you lemons…

I’m not saying that all limits are good. Many are unnecessary at best and evil at worst. But the complete absence of restrictions tends to hinder progress and impede creativity.

It’s easy to become frustrated when I feel behind instead of getting focused on finding solutions. I need to remember that limits can be launchpads and boundaries can be blessings.

How do you respond to the pressures of life? Do you see restrictions as obstacles or opportunities? Your greatest challenges may lead to your best results.