mplement one at a time. When you’ve done one for a week or two, then implement another, but never have too many going at once. I’ve found that five fairly new ones are my max.

 

By Leo Babauta

I’m convinced that creating goals or resolutions is hardwired into us, because we can’t stop making them.

Unfortunately, we’re not as equipped for making the goals come true, and the pattern most of us have seen is that we start a goal with optimism, only to be disappointed when we haven’t done much after the first week or so.

I’d like to suggest that you try creating rules that will make your goals happen.

A rule in this case is an action you do after a specific event happens, as consistently as you can, which will lead to your goal happening.

Some examples for different goals:

  • Write a book: When I turn on my computer, I will shut off the browser and all other programs but my text editor, and write for 20 minutes.
  • Learn Spanish: When I drive to and from work, I will listen to my Spanish tapes and practice.
  • Read more: When it’s 9:30 p.m., I turn off the computer, get ready for bed, and read my book.
  • Run a marathon: When my alarm goes off at 6 a.m., go out and do my run for today. Or stretch if it’s a rest day.
  • Lose weight: 1) When it’s breakfast, eat oats, cinnamon and berries. 2) When it’s lunch or dinner, eat black beans, brown rice, veggies, salsa and guacamole. 3) If I’m hungry in between, eat apples, carrots, or plain nuts. 4) Drink only tea or water, except a cup of coffee to start the day.
  • Be more mindful: When I wake up, I pee, drink a glass of water, then meditate for five minutes.

None of these rules will get you all the way to the goal, but they’ll get you much farther than you are now.

Implementing the Rules

Of course, a rule is great in theory, but much harder to put into practice. So I’d like to make a few suggestions:

  1. Implement one at a time. When you’ve done one for a week or two, then implement another, but never have too many going at once. I’ve found that five fairly new ones are my max.
  2. Make each one small (5-20 minutes for something hard, up to 30 minutes for something easy).
  3. Don’t expect perfection—allow yourself to mess up, but try to do better.
  4. If you keep messing up, set up some accountability, or change your environment so it’s easier to implement.
  5. Don’t start with food rules. Food is the hardest, because we’re not really aware of all the things going on, like emotional eating or parts of our brain sending hormones to make us really hungry. When you do food rules, do one at a time, and try to change your environment so that there aren’t tempting foods all around you. If you can’t get rid of the foods, don’t go where they are very often.
  6. Mindfulness rules are the best to start with, because they make following the other rules easier.
  7. Set computer or phone reminders, or put up visual reminders like notes wherever the rule is supposed to happen.

What you’ll find is that the rules need adjusting as you figure out what works for you and what doesn’t. You’ll find that you forget at first—in which case you should set reminders. You’ll find that some rules really need a change in environment, others might need accountability. What you’ll learn is that this is an incredible learning process, as you start to understand how you work best. Rules are small steps that add up to huge changes over time, and they’re ones that you’ll actually make happen.

What one rule can you create today that will have a big impact on your life?

 

Leo Babauta is a regular guy, a father of six kids, a husband, a writer from Guam (now living in San Francisco). He eats vegan food, writes, runs, and reads. He is the founder of Zen Habits which is about finding simplicity and mindfulness in the daily chaos of our lives. It’s about clearing the clutter so we can focus on what’s important, create something amazing, find happiness.

 

 

This article was originally published on Zen Habits and re-published with author’s permission.

 

Photo: (source)

Editor: Dana Gornall

 

Were you inspired by this post? You might also like:

What Does it Mean to Have a Good Death?

  By Dr. Robin TW Chan Have you thought about your own death? I can understand if some may find this question too morbid, but I offer no apologies for this. Please feel free to skip this, and come back to read when you are ready. Everything which is born will...

The Lack of Touch in American Prisons.

  By Sherrin Fitzer Imagine being told that for the rest of your life you could not touch another human being. Well, maybe under very specific and restricted circumstances. Yet others could touch you—in a not so loving way, whenever they wanted, whether you...

You Have a Right to Be Happy.

  By Lisa Meade   Breaking News: Seeking happiness does not mean you are being selfish! You have a right to be happy. You deserve to be happy and the universe responds to this happiness. When we are happy there is a tremendous shift in our energies. We are...

Defining Compassion: One Life at a Time.

By Tanya Tiger There is a deep and abiding desire in the hearts of most people to make this world a better place. When we allow ourselves to get still and quiet we can hear that small, yet persistent, whisper from within saying, “something isn’t right here.” Though we...

Comments

comments

The Tattooed Buddha

The Tattooed Buddha strives to be a noncompetitive, open space for the author’s authentic voice. We offer a dialogue that is aware and awake to the reality of our present day to day, tackling issues of community, environment, and compassionate living. A space for the everyday person, whether Buddhist, Hindu, Jew, Christian, Pagan, or secular humanist, we hope to provide a platform for a voice that seeks to change the world one article at a time.