How Creating Your Own Rules Is The Key To Freedom
It was 5.30 in the morning, a time where most normal people are still off in dreamland. In the bright lights of our gym, I asked him directly,
"Why do you think you haven't been losing weight?"
A short pause.
"I'm not doing what I should be." He replied with acknowledgement.
On three separate occasions this week I've had exactly the same chat with different clients. The goals may be different, but the outcome is the same.
For many of us, we simply aren't doing what we need to do.
These days all of the info you'll ever need is available at your fingertips. If I wanted to learn how to build a spaceship, technically I could. There would be enough details, books and notes on the topic for me to eventually get there.
The problem isn't not knowing what to do. It's the real-life effort in taking the steps every day. It's difficult.
Waking up early and heading to the gym rather than snoozing for another halfa.
Choosing that chicken salad over a big, juicy burger.
Saying no to another beer when all of your mates are having one.
No one WANTS to do it.
The conflict is within you. Do you want to lose weight more than you want that burger?
If yes, read on.
A simple way to get you to reach your goal is to create your own set of rules.
In 'The Perfect Day Formula' by Craig Ballantyne, he promotes how personal rules, rituals and philosophies can change your life.
"Success is simple once you accept how hard it is. It may sound counterintuitive but once you accept how difficult it will be, then and only then will you be mentally willing to accept the challenges that it will require, such as sacrifice, dedication, preparation, planning and perseverance. If you accept these facts then it is a simple process of doing what you must."
Creating your own set of rules matches your personal level of desire with the same level of action it will take.
As you read earlier, the problem isn't knowing what to do, it's the doing part. This is where rules come in.
If you drink too much, create a rule that says, "I don't have more than one drink a night," or "I don't drink on weekdays."
If you eat too much late at night, create a rule that says, "I don't eat after 7pm."
If you want to go to bed at 10.30pm, create a rule that says, "I turn off all electronics at 10pm and get ready for bed."
Though no one is perfect and you will break the rules from time to time, you will be better for trying.
Once you commit to a series of rules designed to get you to do the things you know you need to do, you become the person you want to be. Your rules align your actions with your big goals.
Uphold your rules like breaking them would be breaking the law.
Most people are unwilling to match their goals with the commitment needed to achieve them. They don't want to make those little sacrifices today for tomorrow's victories. Having rules is the secret to this.
Here are a few of my own personal rules to show you how they can guide your life towards where you want to be.
I get 8 hours of sleep a night.
I don’t consume caffeine after 2pm and no more than 2 drinks a day.
I create my intentions every night for the following day and review the past week and week ahead every Sunday.
I weight train at least 3x per week.
I am never late.
I am polite in all situations.
They aren't anything fancy yet set the tone for how I'd like to run my life.
The reason rules work is they change your internal monologue from "I can't" to "I don't".
You're at a mate's BBQ and he has just cooked up some giant, greasy cheeseburgers. You know you shouldn't but he is pressuring you. You're not even hungry and want to stick to your diet. For you, it's a challenge to say no. The temptation makes you cave.
For the vegetarian guy next to you, it's simple. "I don't eat meat," is a personal rule, so he politely declines.
In your head, saying "I can't" makes you want it more. We internally fight the power trying to control us. Enough 'I can't's' always ends in a relapse.
"I don't," on the other hand, provides a simple rule. There is no temptation. It's how you do things.
Don't dismiss the idea of personal rules as they seem too rigid.
You already follow rules every day. You stop at red lights, wait in lines and follow the 10 Commandments. Doing so allows you to live a stress-free, productive life.
Imagine if you had to decide if you wanted to stop at a red light every time you encountered one. It would be a disaster.
Rules create freedom in your life.
By having rules for saving money, you create financial freedom.
By having rules for diet and exercise, you create the freedom of good health and quality of life.
By having rules for sleeping, you create the freedom of energy and productivity the next day.
As Jocko Willink says, "Discipline equals Freedom."
Rules in certain areas create freedom in others.
I challenge you to set 3 personal rules right now.
Come up with three simple rules which are aligned with your ideal self. Nothing crazy. Try to match them with the level of commitment you're ready to undertake.
Choose things around: food, alcohol, exercise, sleep or finance.
And if you're keen, send them to me here. Sharing them makes them real.
Start to do the things you know you should be doing and you'll get to where you want to go.
There is no other way.