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12 Rules to Live By

Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Craig Ballantyne of The $100K Transformation Contest.

The one thing I admire about people who have strong nutrition beliefs is their dogmatic behavior.

For example, a vegetarian, under no circumstances, will ever eat meat. There is no, “well, everyone else is having a burger, so just this once, I will too.”

That’s not how it works.

Not when a vegetarian has a strong personal philosophy that they never, ever, ever eat meat.

And that strong personal philosophy guides them to guilt-free behavior that is congruent with their goals.

I’ve also taught my fat loss clients to develop their own personal philosophy – essentially a set of rules that dictate decisions, and I’ve also created my own rules that determine how I live my life so that I reduce guilt, stress, and wasted emotional energy.

Now the purpose of this email is not to say that my personal philosophies are wrong or right.

Instead, they are simply here to encourage you to adopt your own rules for the sake of living a better, more productive stress free life. 
You may have your own rules in your head, but I encourage you to put them in writing. And you can adopt a set of rules for every aspect of your life, from health to financial to family and business.

Craigs 12 Rules

These are the 12 rules I live by:

  1. I go to bed and get up at the same time 7 days per week (9 p.m. and 5 a.m.) I do not deviate from this schedule unless it is due to an important (and this word is not used lightly) work or social function. I stick to a diet of whole, natural foods, avoid caffeine after 1 p.m., and avoid alcohol within 3 hours of bedtime.
  2. I write for at least 60 minutes first thing every morning.
  3. I do not check email before 9 a.m.
  4. I do not talk on the phone unless it is a scheduled interview or conference call.
  5. I create a to-do list at the end of every workday and I follow that to-do list starting first thing the next morning. I also perform my daily readings at the end of every workday, and I write in a gratitude journal. I am thankful every day for identifying my mission and what I wanted to do with my life at such a young age.
  6. I do not engage in confrontations with anyone, in-person or online. This is a waste of time and energy. If I have caused harm, I apologize and fix the situation. However, if someone simply doesn’t like something I have done or something that I do or disagrees with me, that is fine, but I’m not going to get into an argument about it. For any confrontation-like situation, I simply take a deep breath, relax, breathe out, and re-focus my efforts back on my work and goals.
  7. I am guided by these two phrases: a) “Nothing matters.” – By this, I mean that arguing on the internet changes nothing, I can only work towards the major, massive goals that I have set for my life…that I have a vision of helping others, and there is no time to let petty arguments stand in the way. b) “It will all be over soon.” – This serves me in both good times and in bad.In hard times, such as bad days, troubled times, or intense physical effort or discomfort, I know that it will all be over soon. A small amount of suffering now will be forgotten later when I will enjoy the rewards of my work. And in good times, I will remember that life is short, and I must make things count now, and no matter how good things are going I must never let myself become soft and lazy, because I have too much to accomplish in such a short time.
  8. Everything that happens to me – good and bad – is my personal responsibility. I blame no one but myself. These are the choices I’ve made – this is the life I’m living. I will accept the consequences of my actions.
  9. I will not stop until I have helped 1 Million men and women transform their lives – physically, financially, or emotionally.
  10. I will not be a person I don’t want to be. I will not be petty, jealous, or envious, or give in to any other of those lazy emotions. I will not gossip or speak badly of others, no matter who I am with or what environment I am in. I will not be negative when it is easier to be positive. I will not hurt others when it is possible to help. I will know the temptations, situations and environments in life that I must avoid, and I will, in fact, avoid them, even if it means loosening relationships with others who “live” in those environments. It’s my life and that matters more than what other people think of me.
  11. “I will always keep the child within me alive.” – Frank McKinney. I will laugh every day. That’s not hard when you have the friends – and dog – that I have. And if they don’t make me laugh, there’s plenty of comedy on Netflix.
  12. “I will write with honesty and feeling.” – Ted Nicholas. I’ve long since giving up caring about how others choose to judge me. What matters more than others’ opinions is the number of people that I can help by sharing advice and encouragement in my writing. The most powerful songs are written by songwriters who bare their souls. So screw it, let’s do it. Let’s put it all out there. I’m not going to help as many people as I could if I keep the “real info” to myself. I also understand now, better than ever, that sometimes you have to “write to repel” in order to strongly attract the readers you desire.

So that’s it. These 12 rules allow me to live my life with less guilt, more energy, and more productivity than if I did not have these personal philosophies outlined.

Now I know there will be two types of reactions to this content. First, some will dismiss it – and dismiss me.

But to those people, remember the point of the list is not for you to sit there and think, “Oh, what a total weirdo. I never want to hang around with this guy.”

Instead, the point of the list, the idea, the article is to simply stimulate your thinking.

And that’s the 2nd type of reaction you can have to this article.

This is the reaction of the people who I’m interested in – the people who will realize what’s holding them back is not a lack of knowledge (because the knowledge is out there and freely available), but instead, it is decision making.

Listen, I know that every week you make decisions that leave you full of guilt and remorse, but on the other hand you also make decisions that you know are correct – even though they are difficult to make.

Wouldn’t you be better off if you made MORE correct decisions with less effort?

Of course, and that is where you rules to live by, your personal philosophies, come into play.

With this post, I’ve given you a model so that you can create your own personal philosophies that will allow you to make the correct decision and fewer decisions that leave you with remorse.

As a result of making more correct decisions, you’ll move closer to your goals and suffer less frustration. Life will be simpler once you start adhering to your own personal philosophies – and not worrying about what others think.

Check out more from Craig Ballantyne in his $100K Transformation Contest, and sign up today (it’s free).

Zen Habits

Leo Babuata
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How Taking Care of My Finances Changed My Life
Tips for Traveling with Kids
My Grand Travel Experiment
The Parent I Aspire to Be
The Best & Less-than-Best Motivations for Learning
The Miracle of Suspending Mis-Belief
7 Strategies for Dealing with Toxic People
Finding Motivation on Important But Non-Urgent Tasks
Learning Tips for the Top 8 Learning Challenges
The 30-Day Learning Challenge
The Place Where You Are
Feeling Determined to Change
Practicing Non-Judgment
Hold Your Own Feet to the Fire
Don’t Waste Your Opportunity
How to Beat Procrastination with Daily Training
The Time When We’ll Be Present & Content
A Simple, Powerful Self-Compassion Method
When Others Frustrate You
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The Case for Replacing Exercise with Play
Leave Yourself Wanting More
Fail Faster at Habits
The Anti-Bucket List
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The Case for Caring About Your Work
Questions of Priority
The Futility of Always Pushing Myself to Be More
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You’re Not Doing Life Wrong
Getting Lost in Just Doing
An Addict’s Guide to Overcoming the Distraction Habit
The Source of Contentment
Savor Discipline: Merge the Interests of Your Future & Present Selves
What You Can Say Instead of “I Don’t Feel Like It”
The Things That Get in the Way of Doing
The Girl Who Saw Through the Illusions
A Gradual Approach to Healthy Eating
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In Praise of Limits
The Art of Being My Dad
5 Ideas to Create an Amazing 2015
Essential Zen Habits of 2014
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Overwhelmed by All the Changes You Want to Make
My 2014 Successes and Failures
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When You’re Lonely
The Brain’s Fast Mode
5 Questions to Simplify Your Life During the Holidays
The Zen Habits Holiday Gift Guide
The Four Hidden Habit Skills
The Power of Delay
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When Resistance Smacks You in the Face
When Your Plate is Too Full
The Quickstart Guide to Quitting a Bad Habit
The Zen Habits Book is Almost Done
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The Realization
A Guide to Changing Self-Destructive Behaviors
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It’s Not Too Late to Change Bad Habits
The Smart Way to Stick to Habits
My Most Effective Learning Tools
What I Do When I Fail
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The Biggest Reasons You Haven’t Changed Your Habits
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The Heartbreaking Cruelty of Comparing Yourself to Others
A Brief Guide to Overcoming Instant Gratification
How to Get Motivated After a Vacation
7 Strategies for Facing Your Internet/TV Addiction
How to Breathe
7 Discipline-Mastering Practices
7 Rules That Keep My Life Simple
An Education in the Majestic Sierra Nevada
The Lies Your Mind Tells You to Prevent Life Changes
How to Believe in Yourself
Don’t Waste a Moment
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How to Be Great
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How to Master the Art of Living
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The End of the Day Philosophy
The Painful Beauty of Impermanence
How to Change Other People
Pursuing Happiness When It’s Already Within You
The Quickstart Guide to a Decluttered Home
Parental Zen: How to Keep Your Cool as a Parent
Looking for Love
How to Stop Your Habit Changes From Getting Derailed
Why We Have Regret
The Essence of Fatherhood: 6 Simple Lessons
A Call for Revolt: Advertising is the Anti-Minimalism
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The No Procrastination Challenge
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A Father’s Manifesto: Raising Young Men Who Respect Women
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Coming Back From a Setback
The Gift
A Guide for Young People: What to Do With Your Life
No Excuses: Minimalism with Kids
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The Letting Go Ebook, Free
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A Month Without Coffee
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The Art of Tasting Chocolate Mindfully
Why Fear of Discomfort Might Be Ruining Your Life
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A Year of Living Without
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I Failed
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The Futility of Comparing Yourself to Others
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The Worry That You’re Doing the Wrong Thing Right Now
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Working with the Obstacles in Your Path
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5 Lessons in Contentment from Billionaires Warren Buffett & Charlie Munger
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A Guide to Practical Compassion
6 Steps To Healing Yourself
The 7-Day Vegan Challenge
Why You Should Write Daily
Achieving Without Goals
Flowing with the Stresses of Kids (or anyone else)
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Expanding the Envelope: A Method for Beating Anger
A Guide to Practical Contentment
The Practice of Work Mind & Vacation Mind, Simultaneously
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Quitting Your Habits
The 38 Best Methods of Successful Exercisers
How To Make It Impossible To Fail
The Not Knowing Path of Being an Entrepreneur
How to Change Your Life: A User’s Guide
Getting Your Family On Board with Life Changes
How to Stick to a Habit When Life Falls Apart
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Meditation: The Most Fundamental Habit
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The 7 Habits of Calmness
The Four Habits that Form Habits
Advice to My Kids
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The Daily Checklist
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The Unprocrastination Month, and the Relaunch of the Sea Change Program
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A Vegan Tour of NYC