While you can have virtually anything you want, you can’t have everything you want.

Ray Dalio

I’ve been thinking a lot about limitations lately. While we’re often pretty good at avoiding facing our limitations we can’t deny that they’re there. And then there are times where we can’t escape them. Suddenly whole countries are under lockdown and our ability to move freely is severely limited. People cannot escape this and they get frustrated or angry.

The truth is that avoidance is the worst approach and getting frustrated a close second when it comes to dealing with limitations. Conscious consideration of them brings you closer to what you want in life. Only when you know what limits you can you chose to overcome them if you want and accept them if you must.

I’d argue that the most prominent limit put on your life is time. You have 24 hours each day and 168 each week. You can’t get more time no matter how hard you try. You might get more efficient in doing things but that only gets you so far.

You have other limitations as well, typical examples being physical ones (e.g. illness), lack of skill, or lack of money. While you might want to climb Mount Everest you might lack the fitness to do so. While you might want to live in the Medditarean on a sailboat you might lack the financial resources.

You’ve got to accept that there will always be limitations. You can’t just affirm or manifest everything (even though a lot of people are trying to sell you that). You won’t be an NBA player if you’re 1.60m tall. Nor will you have the biggest boat, there’s always someone with a bigger boat (unless you’re the royal family of Abu Dhabi), in that case, congrats).

Also, sometimes you’re not bound by real limitations after all. Often you just came to accept them because society has ingrained them into you. You might’ve always thought it’s super expensive to buy an island, for example, I mean cmon it’s a freaking island! Then you read a blog post of a guy who bought one and he is far from what’s considered rich. Suddenly, you re-examine what’s possible.

So besides the real limitations and rules that you have to play with, there are always made up imaginary limitations that you just never questioned. This is often a key principle for capturing life’s upside.

But limitations are not really the problem. Because I’m sure there’s a lot of things that you don’t care about. You don’t really want everything. So before you look any further with regards to overcoming your limitations, step one is getting crystal clear about what you actually want and don’t want.

Many of the scarcity problems we think we have are often just a problem of allocation. Once you’ve identified what you actually want, you can then double down on that while mercilessly reducing what you don’t want.

To sum up, there are three approaches to overcome limitations that I’ve found so far. First, question your accepted limitations regularly to check if it is true or just conditioned or imaginary. Has someone in a similar position done it before? If yes, you might want to re-think what’s possible. Second, get clear about your priorities and goals. What do you want and what don’t you want? Take your focus and your resources away from the latter and move them to the former. Lastly, if you can’t change it accept it. If it truly lies outside your control and there’s nothing you can do about it, learn to accept it and live it up to the maximum within those boundaries.