Each of us lives by a set of rules, or values, which dictate the choices we make. All of our thoughts and consequent actions are based around those rules that we have for ourselves.
If you’ve ever done a white elephant gift exchange, you can see how many different variations of the rules there are. One person believes everyone must have a gift in his or her hands before anyone opens anything, while another believes you open as you go. Your friend might believe that the first person gets one last chance to steal any gift at the end of the exchange, while you remember that the coveted spot goes to the highest number drawn.
This variety of rules is normal, since each person interprets the game from their perspective. Usually we develop and remember rules that best serve us (to win the best gift, etc), and over time those perceptions evolve and shift based on societal standards.
The beginning of the year is a wonderful time to reevaluate the rules we currently live by. Either restructure or completely scrap some rules, and update with new ones. Or create a new game altogether!
- Grab a notebook, your ipad, or something to write on, and make a list titled “Old Rules”. Jot down at least three. On the opposite page, or a new one, label a list of “New Rules” that will correspond or completely replace the items on the Old Rule list.
- Rate your rules on an A-F scale. “A” would be given to rules that are really working for you in terms of productivity, balance, and success. And “F” would go to those rules that you’ve long outgrown, and are hurting you more than they are helping you.
- Complete the process by writing clear new rules on the opposite sheet, so the number of new rules matches your old rules count. Ditch any rules that got a rating of “D” or “F” (I like to draw a line through them), and restructure any rules that you gave a “B “or “C” by making amendments.
Here’s an example…
Old rule: “I will stay at the office until I’ve completed everything I need to for the day.”
Great rule! It probably allows you to feel extremely productive at the end of the day, please your boss (or yourself if you are an entrepreneur), and maintain a reputation as a hardworking and determined professional. But this pattern of staying late at the office many nights might be stopping you from having a fun social life, or spending time with your family, or working out at your favorite gym in the evenings. If those things are important to you, it’s time to let go of the old rule and come up with a new one that will encompass your goals at this stage in your life.
Rules are great until they start to hold you back, so you’ll want to go through and do this a couple times a year to ensure your rules are on track with who you are and what you want. Some rules will stick with you for a lifetime, and others will come and go within six months.
The new amended rule might be…
“As long as I’ve completed 80% of the things on my list for the day,
I’m leaving the office by 7pm to ensure I live a healthy balanced life.”
Of course there will be exceptions to this, there always are. Simply stating your new intentions can help you mentally change some of the patterns you’ve been repeating. You may start to see the affects right away after doing this, while some rules will take more time to shift.
Take a look at your New Rules list. These are YOURS. You can be as creative and playful, or as strict and direct as you’d life. Your rules are guidelines, that when applied to your lifestyle, enhance your ability to live the life you want. They are only for you, so don’t try to push them on others… they’ve got their own list going on.
Reworking the rules you live by gives you a surge of empowerment. Take your new rules into this new year to be a true game-changer.