Why Create Guidelines?

Something I found on the beach in Japan once. Created by the internal guidelines of the creator.

We seek and develop guidelines as a way to ease navigation of a complex world. We use other people’s guidelines as a proxy for first-hand experience and developing our own guidelines. We evaluate other people’s guidelines with our own set. A large number of people may blindly mimic behavior or follow guidelines given to them without question. But we rarely write them down.

Organizations have guidelines that are written down. Our company has some various guidelines in coding, file organization, design…etc. Guidelines have numerous advantages, whether they are for an organization or an individual.

I need guidelines for myself because I am in fact, like many people, complex. I may contain sub-personalities, that I apply under different circumstances, I have multiple cognitive models I can apply to the same inputs. The reasons to make guidelines for myself also apply to the reasons to make guidelines for an organization. Guidelines offer the following benefits:

  • Guidelines make my behavior more consistent. If you follow your guidelines that is. I like myself more when my behavior is consistent. Consistent behavior creates an identity.
  • Guidelines let other people know how to interact with you. I increasingly find myself in situations when it’s beneficial to tell someone one or more of my guidelines. Also, other people tend to accept me more when my behavior is consistent, even if they do not always like my behavior. This serves me well.
  • Guidelines are a form of reminder of previous experiences. I started to mentally create guidelines because of personal experiences and how well my behavior in those situations served me, or didn’t serve me in the past.
  • Guidelines simplify decision making. I notice people have a tendency of treating many situations as new, as unique. Especially if it’s a first-hand experience and there is an emotional involvement. This is true, every situation and perception is extremely complex. However, often the primary components are not special. Guidelines remind me of the similarity between many situations, and that it is often not necessary to consider each situation very carefully in order to effectively make decisions about what to do. This reduces emotional and mental labor. I need to conserve my energy.
  • Guidelines allow me to be aware of my behavior in a simple way. It increases my self-awareness during single acts and decisions. A cognitive feedback loop is created.
  • Guidelines allow me to iterate and track my adaption as I go through life. You can’t improve what you don’t track. They are not rules. I don’t like ‘rules’ because it leaves no room for uncertainty, for new encounters. And too much modification of rules means they are not really rules at all, and this leads to inconsistency and contradiction. I am preparing for adaption.