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Principles I Live By

Most of what we do is subconscious, driven by our habits. The rest is conscious, primarily driven by our principles. In addition to dictating our conscious actions, principles also guide which habits we decide to create.

If we want to improve ourselves and become more effective, our habits and principles are the places we can get the most leverage. A good habit like eating healthy can affect nearly every aspect of our lives, just as a principle like always telling the truth can improve our relationships and lower our mental load.

Just as I don't think there's a universal set of habits that's right for everyone, I don't think there is a set of principles that's right for everyone. Even so, it's always interesting to hear what others' principles and habits are, to use as inspiration for creating our own.

I follow my principles very closely, but not completely. Sometimes a situation calls for deviation, and other times I simply fail to stick to my principles. The former is okay, but the latter is something I try to minimize. With that in mind, here are four of my own.

Making Rules for Yourself

I don't notice that I have a million rules for myself until someone hears about one, asks if I have others, and the conversation lasts for hours. I know that even with all of the discipline I've built over the years, I'm still susceptible to making impulsive decisions in the moment, so I make rules for myself. In my brain those rules have special status as being immutable and important.

To give you some examples of rules I have: I'm not allowed to break my diet while in San Francisco, unless I'm in a social situation (and then I must eat as close as possible); I no longer book trips unless I'm going with friends or visiting friends; I wasn't allowed to watch movies in theaters in 2013; I don't allow myself to spend any time dating until 2015.

Today I thought it might be interesting to walk through an example and discuss how it was created and how you can make your own.

One of the least productive states of mind to be in is the one where you're racking your brain to make a decision that is not important or should have already been made. Besides wasting time, this practice depletes your will power, which is one of your most valuable resources and could be spent pushing towards your goals. The main reason I have a million rules is to trick myself into rarely or never going into that state.

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