Whether we think about them or not, we all have “rules for life.”
They are the values, beliefs and principles, even habits, that we use to negotiate life.
You should think about your personal rules for life, write them down and make sure they lead you toward your goals, not away from them.
To start you thinking about this subject, and to serve as an example, these are the rules, some specific and some general, that I try to live by to be healthier, happier and more successful . . .
1. I go to bed by 10 p.m. and get up at 5 a.m. 7 days a week.
I am a “morning person” so I to start my day early. I want to be at my home office desk by 6:30 a.m. Knowing that I need 7 hours of sleep to feel rested, and how long breakfast and other preliminaries take, figuring out my sleep schedule was just math. “Extra” sleep doesn’t make me feel any better and it keeps me from working on my goals for my health, wealth, relationships and personal development.
2. I exercise every day.
Living the best life I am capable of requires abundant energy. In addition to getting adequate rest and eating a healthy diet, sufficient exercise is what gives me the energy I need. Four days a week, I do cardiovascular exercise, 45 minutes per session, or a total of 180 minutes of cardio each week. The other three days I lift weights for an hour.
3. I make healthy food choices almost all the time.
While exercise is necessary for good health and high energy, you cannot exercise away a bad diet. I eat mostly fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, fish and occasional chicken and turkey. (I get protein from eggs, fish, avocado and nuts, and do not eat red meat often.) Anyone who does not know that fruits, vegetables, grains and fish can be as delicious as anything you have ever eaten just doesn’t know how to prepare them. Fortunately for me, my wife Kathie does. (Hint: spices are a key.) Of course, we all have foods that we love but know we should not eat. This fact motivated me to create my “21st Meal Rule.” That rule allows me one meal a week where I can eat something less healthy and not feel bad about it. My favorite splurge is pizza.
4. I look for opportunities to practice kindness and compassion.
Even if it is something as little as smiling and saying “hello” to a stranger on the street, holding a door for someone or giving a few dollars to a person who needs it more than I do, I look for opportunities to be kind and compassionate. “We’re all in this together,” and we have to help each other out.
5. I laugh often.
My favorite movies are comedies. All the buttons on my car radio are set for the satellite radio comedy stations. We go to comedy clubs regularly. I receive jokes daily from “AJokeADay.com.” I choose friends with senses of humor. I often write about humor at Forever Young Blog. I always look for the lighter side of things. I laugh at myself often.
6. I dance.
This sounds frivolous but I believe that deciding to dance more was one of the best decisions I ever made. Moving in time with the music (more or less) is a joyous thing to do, especially with someone you love. To get the benefits, you don’t even have to be a good dancer. You just have to not care that you aren’t.
7. I do not stay angry.
I would love to be able to write that I never get angry, but that would be a crock. But I try to get over anger quickly, hopefully within moments. I absolutely never make any important decisions – take any actions or say anything I could later regret – while I am angry. I never hold grudges (mainly because of what they do to me).
8. I approach each day with enthusiasm.
And with a sense of urgency. An extraordinary life requires persistent action and extraordinary effort. But it’s worth it.
9. I plan each day at the end of the previous day and then I follow my plan.
All productive and happy people use their time wisely. Wasting your time is wasting your life, and who wants to do that? One essential component of my day is a period of uninterrupted time to work on special projects, such as writing this blog. My Thrive Time, as I call it, is from 6:30 a.m. to 9:00 a.m.
10. I start the day by reading something inspiring.
Just as exercising revs up my metabolism, reading something inspiring builds my energy. Among the things that inspire me are stories of good deeds and kindnesses. I read about them every day at such places as DailyGood.org, GoodNewsNetwork.org, and HelpOthers.org.
11. I learn something new every day.
In a rapidly changing world, you cannot stand still. You are always either moving forward of backward. You are moving toward your goals or away from them. That’s an easy choice to make.
12. I care about important issues in the world, but I do not obsess about things over which I have no control.
I focus on the things where I can have an impact. If I can’t do great things, at least I will do smaller things in a great way.
13. I refuse to live in fear.
Of failing. Of being embarrassed. Even of looking foolish. Since adopting this rule, I have accomplished things that I would not have even tried earlier. When I was afraid of making mistakes, I stayed in my warm and comfortable zone. Big mistake. Very limiting. I have actually come to believe that mistakes are “good.” They teach something. They enable us to show what we can overcome. They ultimately make us better. Here is a quote on this subject from Richard Branson that I like: “The best lessons are usually learned from failure. You musn’t beat yourself up if you fail – just pick yourself up, learn as much as you can from the experience and get on with the next challenge…The brave may not live forever, but the cautious never live at all.
14. I make offers, commitments and promises carefully and then I honor them.
I want the people in my life to know they can count on me, that I am trustworthy. Being true to your word shows respect for the other person. Of course, you can’t over-promise or you will spend your life fulfilling promises to others instead of achieving your own goals and dreams.
15. I do and create things that help people..
My goal is to contribute more to the world than I take from it. Is there really any other justification for existence? It turns out that adding value to the lives of others is not only the right thing to do, but it is also the best business strategy. As the immortal Zig Ziglar famously said: “You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want.”
For me, the overarching purpose of having well-chosen personal rules is to lead an extraordinary life full of experiences, contributions, creations and good times.
Since these are personal rules for life, yours will be different from mine. How about sharing some of yours in the comment section.