12 Rules for Life
I recently turned 30 and decided to review the various thoughts on life I’ve jotted town over the last decade. Then I happened across a colleague’s 12 Rules for Life blog post and decided to synthesize my thoughts likewise. If you write your own list, I’d love to read it and discuss it with you.
1. 🥇 Prioritize. You have a finite amount of time and attention in your life, and then you will die. The rest of these rules cover how and what to prioritize.
2. ⚖️ Strive for balance. Consider tensions such as investing in the future vs. living in the present, developing expertise vs. broadening perspective, conforming vs. deviating, and persevering vs. adapting.
3. 🧠 Learn to make good decisions. Be aware common patterns (e.g. decision fatigue, the Pareto principle) and pitfalls (e.g. scope neglect, sunk cost fallacy)
4. 📥 Curate and organize your operating environments: home, office, phone apps, email inbox. Minimize friction for the activities that align with your values. Get rid of distractions and temptations, or at least hide them out of sight and out of reach.
5. ✨ Engage in pursuits which make you feel alive. This brings out the best version of yourself. To figure out which pursuits these are, keep a running list of moments when you felt alive and look for patterns.
6. 👑 Build identity capital. This includes professional skills, but also hobbies. Unwind constructively. Habits are the building blocks of identity capital. Beware mindless screen time and substance use, which displace capital-building activities.
7. 🤸♂️ Be kind to your body: eat a balanced diet, exercise regularly, and make time for rest. Being embodied is an essential part of being alive.
8. 🧘♀️ Give your brain downtime to make connections. Turn off your screens. If information is always coming in, new ideas can’t come out. Good things await on the other side of boredom.
What: your community
9. 🙊 Speak thoughtfully, to others and to yourself. We understand the world through the stories we tell. Listen to the stories you tell yourself. If you’re unhappy about a situation, try retelling your story from a place of curiosity and compassion.
10. 👨👩👦 Do your part to bring out the best in the people around you. Having warm relationships is the strongest predictor of long-term mental and physical well-being. Practice active listening, “yes, and”, and giving the benefit of the doubt.
11. 🕍 Participate in communities of people who share your values. These are the people you will grow to resemble.
12. 🛤 Embrace the journey. When things are going smoothly, be present and soak it in. When the road is rough, see if working through it can help you become wiser and more compassionate. Either way, this too shall pass.