Over-constraining a problem.

Here’s an example from my life for you to view an over-constrained problem.

Here are the constraints for my career:

  • Autonomy
  • Pay level
  • Amount of travel
  • Location of the job
  • Meaningfulness
  • Ability to contribute in multiple ways

This problem is highly-constrained. The work that I do today, fits all of them, but not many others do, as a result I’ve been doing this job for over 7 years, which is an eternity in this day and age.

When I was hired for this position, I had fewer constraints. I didn’t own a home, so location mattered less. I didn’t have a family, so amount of travel mattered less. I didn’t make as much as I do now and the economy was still recovering from an economic disaster, so pay didn’t matter as much. It was easier to find this job, then finding the next job.

If times suddenly became desperate then reassessing the constraints may be worth doing, making it easier to find a new job that fits the constraints. Adding a couple more constraints, it becomes a problem that likely no job will ever fit, at that point, I’ll have to build a my own solution.

Constraints limit our solutions, which is powerful when the options are overwhelming, but when over-constrained, not finding a solution at all is the reality. This is the entry-level job seeker expecting too much money and not finding a job as a result.