The Year of Rules — Defining Your Life in 2016

Every year comes to an end. Obviously.

But does every year end happily? Not so obvious.

For me, I always find the good within the bad. It doesn’t matter how many bad things have happened, my year will always be great.

How can I say this?

I’m the type of person that doesn’t let things get to me. I might get angry, hurt or sad at the time but only for a little while. Then I move on. You move on eventually, but I just tend to move on more quickly.

There’s a positive aspect to most things if you look hard enough and that’s what I do.

Does it work all the time? It can if you truly want to. It’s entirely up to you. You choose to be positive or negative in any circumstance. You’re in control of your actions or reactions.

I failed a lot last year. I mean a lot. But I’m a better person for it. (See what I mean about finding the positive?)

If you looked at my goals I set last year, it would seem I was a complete failure. In fact, the past five years I’ve set goals, I’ve failed.

Here’s why:

Yearly defined goals are too narrow for me. Either life gets in the way or you decide that you still have plenty of time before the year ends to start on one of your goals. Before you know it, it’s the New Year and you look at your goal sheet and it says… big fat loser!

I’ve found a new way to live. It’s easy to follow and it keeps you mindful on what you need to do today.

Instead of having defined goals, I’ve chosen themes. I believe these five themes hold the key to living a purposeful life. They work together like legs of a table.

Healthy is Wealthy
Love & Relationships

If I focus on these in some way every day, each day will be a success and I will consistently grow as a human being.

Humans were created to grow. Look at how things have grown over the past 2,000 years, or even the past 15 years, and we will continue to grow as a society. But are you growing as an individual?

To help me, for 2016 I’m creating a set of rules to follow. Rules that will question my actions and prevent me from procrastinating. Keep me more productive and ensure I have a successful day, every day.

These rules will define who I am.

Some of these I already do or started to do last year. Some of these are new.

The reason to create your own set of rules is so you don’t second guess your decisions. Once you’ve made your rules, stick with them for a while to see if they improve your life.

They may be trivial to some, but to you, they mean something. Don’t let outside influences change your mind.

The Rules

— Healthy is Wealthy

Ask yourself this: Will this (food or drink) have a positive effect on my body? If YES, knock your socks off. If NO, choose something that will.

This is a key rule we should all have. For me, looking after my body has been the highest on my agenda but the one I’ve never followed through on. Anyone else?

— Drink Less Coffee

I use to drink too much coffee. Now, I’m down to one cup a day. Before it was 7 or 8 cups. I only started drinking the hot lava around 5 years ago. My body shouldn’t need it. It didn’t before and it won’t need it soon.

— Take Facebook Off My Phone

Let’s face it, we could all spend less time on Facebook! I’m already on Facebook for work, and behind my desktop most of my working days, so I don’t need to have it on my phone too.

— Stretch, Meditate, Read & Write Every Morning

Between 5–8am, I will do these tasks before I even look at an email. Start my day by doing something for myself. Want to learn something new? Get up earlier and do it. Except if you want to learn drums. Don’t do this at 5 am.

— Stop Wasting Time

This one comes from Ryan Holiday. Have you wandered into a store looking for something and can’t find it? Then you ask an employee where it is and they show exactly where to look? Yeah, me too. What a waste of time! Have you ever opened an email, read it, closed it and then had to read again later that day to send a reply. Again, me too. More time wasted.

— Help Everyone

I no longer look at someone who I think might need my help and do nothing. If I see someone in the street and they’re struggling to carry their bags, I’ll ask if they need my help. Pay it forward. Simple things like this make you feel good about yourself.

— Follow Through With Everything

You might start on a great idea and then start to see it’s too much work or it isn’t going to plan. See it through. It will make you a better person.

— When Taking Calls, Stand Up and Walk

Another one from Ryan Holiday. I tend to come across better or have more confidence when standing up. My voice comes across clearer and it’s good for your health to get off your seat.

— Create More Time For Reading

Reading has been the greatest investment in myself. I’m better in meetings. The ideas pour out when talking to clients. It’s made me a better person. And I’m secretly building a business involving books. Oops, not so secret anymore.

— Eat More Food From Mother Nature

Eating food that mother nature has given us is a no-brainer. Eating food that has been grown from that big ball of energy in the sky is a no-brainer. It’s time to take action.

— Karma’s a Bitch! Or a God

If someone wants to skip you in a queue, let them. If someone wants to write something about you negatively online, let them. Don’t rise to it. Karma is on your side.

— Stop Working Every Night Past 6 pm

I want to teach my six-year-old girl that a man is supposed to be at home with his family. Not working all the hours under the sun.

The reason I get up at 5 am is to put in my 12-hour day and still make it home at a decent time. These extra hours at night is time to spend with my little one, my wife and even do some exercise. Some nights I can work late or go to a work event, but not every night.

I know this one can’t work for everyone. A friend of mine has two kids, is studying at university, working evening and weekends, has a house to look after, a family to provide for and a wife to keep happy. He has no time. But he will one day.

— Help More Around The Home

My wife is wonder woman. But I’ve kind of forgot she has her own ambitions, too. This year, I’m committed to helping my wife pursue her own ambitions. Why should I have all the fun!

— Call One Friend Every Day

There are no excuses staying out of touch with friends. It happens though, especially with most of us married with kids. If I start calling my friends every day, hopefully, it will have a knock-on effect.

— Call My Mum More Often

I only have the one after all.

— Go to a Beach Once a Month

Rain, wind, sun or shine. Who cares? I’m hitting the beach. Did you know in Scotland we have 647 beaches? I think I’ve been to around 10.

— Climb More Mountains

Climbing a mountain is like meditation. It frees your mind from any stresses you may have. It frees your mind to think. Oh, and it’s good for your health.

— Follow The 12 Week Year Rule

I believe 12 weeks is enough time to make a difference to your life or business. If nothing improves then it’s either a bad idea or it’s not that important to you.

— Follow The 5 Rule

Call 5 people. Email 5 people. Comment on 5 blog posts. Like 5 LinkedIn articles. Only 5 and move on. It’ll be more than you’re doing just now and it gets you started.

— Practice & Learn More About Stoicism

Marcus Aurelius wrote, “He who lives in harmony with himself lives in harmony with the universe.”

He also said, “Do not act as if you were going to live a thousand years, while you are alive, while it is still possible, become a good person.”

This is who I want to be.

Nothing Changes Over Night

This might be a lot of rules but when practised every day, they simply become part of your daily habits.

I’ll be coming back to my list in the future and adding more life rules.

Defining who you are as a person is the ultimate goal in life.

I hope this helps you as much as it’s helped me.

What rules are you giving yourself this year?

Hey there! Quick favor: if you click that heart button below, it means more people will see this article. Would mean the world to me. Thanks!

Like what you read? Give Steven Sefton a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.