How Limits Can Help You Boldly Go Where No One Has Gone Before

The Enterprise Star Trek's transporter is one of the most iconic science fiction gadgets of the last 50 years. It goes beyond even science fiction, to the point that it long ago entered the cultural lexicon—"Beam me up, Scotty."

But the transporter may never have existed if it hadn't been for the constraints of Star Trek's TV budget.

Each week, Kirk, Spock and Bones would visit a different planet, which meant there needed to be an establishing shot of them arriving on the planet's surface. It was too expensive to shoot the Enterprise landing somewhere new every episode, so the writers came up with the transporter. It was a cheap solution that only required a green screen and some sparkly dust. Happily, it fit the show's future aesthetic, too.

Still, it's funny: One of the most iconic fictional devices of the last 50 years came to be because of a tight budget.

It's easy to get frustrated by limits, and think that you can only do X if you have $Y. The truth is, limits often force you to come up with stuff you never would have thought of if you had all the resources in the world.

Next time you're feeling creatively stifled, try placing some artificial limits on yourself. See where they take you. Maybe it'll be somewhere no one has gone before.