HOW CAN I MANAGE MY CONSTRAINTS?
Step One – Explore How You Might Change Constraints Into Contingencies
Many of us believe that having the career we truly want is impossible because certain factors constrain the
decisions we want to make.
Some constraints are absolute. They cannot be changed or altered. Other constraints are relative. They
can be altered or transformed. We often treat relative constraints as if they were absolute.
In addition, some constraints are external to us. Examples of external constraints are financial resources,
our skills, our family situation. Other constraints are internal. They are rooted in our emotions, particularly
our fears and doubts. Often we confuse internal and external constraints, thus limiting our choices
It is important to explore whether what we perceive as absolute constraints are really relative ones. We
also need to look for reoccurring constraints and to explore how our constraints can be turned into
Exploring how to change constraints into contingencies involves a four-step process:
State the decision to be made in the form of a constraint, “I cannot do X because of Y.”
Then analyze your statement to determine what kind of constraint you have named and how powerful it is
Slightly Present Moderately Present Very Present Constraint
Lack of experience
Lack of opportunity
Lack of skills
Lack of credentials
Fear of making a wrong
Fear of taking a risk
Fear of failure
Fear of change
Lack of self-confidence
Identify and state the underlying assumptions behind your constraint:
--Is this an external constraint? Or an internal one? How?
--Is this an absolute constraint? Or a relative one? How?
--What assumptions about my constraints do I need to challenge?
Analyze and clarify each assumption to determine whether it is really true. “That’s not really true
Convert the constraint statement into a contingency statement, using the form:
If I do X, then I must first take care of…”
(In other words, how can you manage each of the constraints to see them no longer as barriers but as
steps you must take toward your goal.)
1. I describe my constraint as “I cannot take this job because my family cannot afford to live on
this lesser salary.”
2. My assumptions are
My family expects to continue the lifestyle we now enjoy
I am the primary provider for our family and they depend on me to maintain our lifestyle
3. In clarifying my assumptions, I wonder
I really do not know what kind of lifestyle my family expects or would be willing to live with
in return for some other benefits to our family.
Have I assumed too much responsibility for providing adequately for everyone in my
family? Would they be willing to do with less? Could my spouse make up the difference
between my current salary and what I want to do?
4. If I am going to consider accepting this offer of my dream job, then I will need to sit down with
my family and have us discuss together some of its implications for us and what we are willing
to do to have the family life we want.
Step Two – Reflecting on Your Constraints and Contingencies
If you were to pick a song that best describes the constraints that prevent you from making the career
decisions you would like to make, what would that song be?
How can you best describe the effect your constraints have on your career decision-making?
What can you do to change your constraints into contingencies?
Step Three – Creating Your Postcard
Now create a postcard following the general directions for formatting postcards:
1. Pick a person to whom you would send this card and address your message to this person
2. In your message, tell your postcard recipient about the constraints in your career choices and
how you might turn these constraints into contingencies. Also tell this person what you might
do to increase the effectiveness of your career decision-making by clarifying your constraints.