Rules for Myself

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My friend Isaac Morehouse had an excellent little post the other day of rules to which he holds himself. It made me start thinking about the significant rules that I either explicitly hold myself to, or are an implication of the patterns in which I am actively engaged.

When we think of rules, we tend to think of regulations that are imposed on individuals and the groups into which they associate by some detached or outside power. The rules that govern employees in large corporations, the regulations that govern these corporations, and the case law that governs these regulations are just a few examples. Rules don't have to be imposed by outside actors, though. We oftentimes either buy into rules implicitly (e.g., norms that govern our behaviors, attitudes, manners) or hold ourselves to specific rules. The latter can be thought of as rules imposed. An ideal version of ourselves -- the self that we want to strive to become -- requires rules imposed on the non-ideal version to reach the ideal.

For me, many of these rules are implications of the values to which I actively hold myself (actively reflecting on these values is one of my own rules, too). If a rule doesn't reflect my values and the version of myself reflected by the active application of these values, then I try to remove it from my life.

Just a few of these rules:

  • Go to the beach once a week
  • Get 8 hours of sleep as regularly as possible
  • Don't attend events where a current-or-former politician is the headliner
  • Be very picky about what I read
    • Only read those things which will help me either elucidate my values further or become better at acting on them
  • Remind myself of the good in my life every morning
  • Remind myself of the goals in my life every morning
  • Do something physically intensive once a day for at least half an hour
  • Immediately resolve to remove from my life any thing which I have a strong dislike of doing
  • Only spend time around people who make me better
  • Travel early
    • First flight of the day
  • Travel often
    • At least three times a month on major trips
  • Travel light
    • No checked luggage. Ever.
  • Don't follow the news
  • Avoid bureaucrats by expediting, simplifying, and outsourcing
  • Never drink lightly-brewed coffee
  • Donate to individuals over groups