What are the rules by which you live your life? Wanna know what mine are? Here they are.
Two of my favourite TV characters are Leroy Jethro Gibbs and Cake. Both these men live by an explicitly defined set of rules. One day I realized that one of the reasons that I like these characters is that they set very high standards for themselves, thanks to their rules. I also see them using their rules as if they were external to their selves – as if they were laws of nature rather than things they just made up.
I think externalizing your belief system is a powerful way to examine your own life, to reflect on who you are and what that means.
So I started writing down my own rules; some of them are based on the aphorisms of others, but tweaked to suit my own perspective, while others are, to the best of my knowledge, my own inventions.
It’s an incomplete list; I add or tweak rules once or twice a year, and I’m quite sure I’m not done with it yet. I think of these changes as signs of my increasing self-understanding.
Looking back on my rules, I find they are a pretty good representation of who I am, distilled to the basics. I find this reassuring.
So I would advise you all to keep a list of your own rules. If you’re diligent and truthful to yourself in writing down your rules, I think it will help you find clarity of self.
Maybe you can submit your favourites as a comment on this post.
You can read my rules here.
In case you’re wondering why I filed this as a design post, it’s because I think of rule-writing as a tool for designing your life. Externalizing your rules is a way to determine any imbalances between how you are and how you think you should be.