What’s in Your Rulebook?

Posted by Todd Smith

Each of us has our own rulebook. Our rulebooks contain the rules from which we each live our lives and see the world. It includes everything from how we want the toilet paper to unfold on the roller to the things we do when no one is watching. It is the book that governs how we make decisions and influences every part of our lives.

Taking the Rules Test

The truth about all of our rulebooks is they contain things that break the law, go against our religions, and violate others’ trust.  Now before you get all excited thinking “You’re wrong, Todd. I’m not guilty.” Consider these questions:

  • If you are driving through an empty parking lot late at night and see a stop sign with no car in sight, will you come to a complete stop before proceeding?
  • Do you go over the posted speed limit?
  • Do you follow your religious leader’s doctrine/theology without exception?
  • Are there things that you do privately that your spouse or significant other would not approve of?
  • Do you ever make personal calls, scan your own emails, or handle your personal matters when your employer is paying you to do your job?
  • Do you feel that under the right circumstances, it is acceptable not to tell someone the whole truth?
  • Do you ever find yourself exaggerating the facts to persuade others to your point of view?

If we are honest with ourselves, none of us do everything the world’s laws say we should do. We have each chosen to accept some and justify not doing others.

We ALL have our own set of laws or rules from which we each live our lives.  These rules influence everything, from how we live our lives today to who we become tomorrow.

As an example, many of these blog posts represent the rules that govern my life.

Helping or Hindering Me

Let me encourage you to start paying attention to your rules.  As you look at the decisions you are making each day, start questioning them. Ask yourself, “What is my rule for making this decision? Is this rule helping me achieve the things that are important to me, or is it hurting me?”

  • If you choose to sleep in rather than get up early to knock out an important project, question your rule for making this decision.
  • If you feel it’s acceptable to scan your phone for messages while engaged in a conversation, then question your rule.
  • If you make the choice not to exercise today, question your rule.
  • If you feel it is okay not to focus on meeting the needs of your spouse, if he or she is not making an effort to meet yours, question your rule.
  • If you think it is okay to show up five minutes late when meeting a friend for lunch, question your rule.

To identify the rule behind any decision you make, ask yourself, “What is my basis or justification for this decision?”  The answer is one of the rules in your rulebook.  Try it out.

Finding the Answers

What is critical to comprehend is that all the decisions you make that ultimately influence your success, happiness, and fulfillment are based on your rulebook.

  • If your career is not headed in the direction you would like, the answer can be found in your rulebook.
  • If your marriage is not going as you had hoped, the answer is located in your rulebook.
  • If your relationships are not growing and developing, the answer once again can be found in your rulebook.
  • If you are not happy, guess what!  The answer can be found in your rulebook.
  • If your life is not fulfilling, you’re right, the answer is in your rulebook.

The reason all the answers are in your rulebook is that you are where you are at this very point in your life, based on the choices you have made.  All these decisions are based on your rules.

  • If you had a business that went bad because you didn’t do your research, then your rulebook does not put an emphasis on research.
  • If you continue to show up late for your appointments, then your rulebook does not have a strong position on respecting other people’s time.
  • If you’re constantly broke, then your rulebook doesn’t include living below your means.
  • If you are overweight, then is there a chance your rulebook puts a greater emphasis on your selfish desires rather than on proper eating, exercising, and taking care of your health?
  • If you’re not challenging yourself to get better, then your rulebook doesn’t believe that “getting better” is important.
  • If you are not someone who pushes yourself to do the things you know you should do, then your rulebook does not place a high value on discipline.

Your entire life today is the sum total result of the quality of your choices and decisions to this moment. If you are not happy with any part of your life, it is up to you to begin to make different choices and better decisions, and the place to start is by questioning the underlying rules behind your decision.

You are the author of your own rulebook.  You can rewrite those rules that are holding you back from becoming the person you want to be and from achieving the happiness and success you desire.

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About the Author:

Todd Smith is a successful entrepreneur of 43 years and founder of Little Things Matter. This blog contains over 200 of his timeless life lessons.

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