Rules not Goals

March 9, 2016

Rules not Goals


Now that the new year is well and truly settled in, I am starting to realise how many (well, nearly all) of my resolutions have remained lofty ideas that sounded brilliant and achievable at the time but now that reality bites, have not seen the light of day.


So, I did what I often do. I started researching and looking around for some practical ideas to get 'stuff done'. Now, let me first give a word of warning: seeking ideas for how to be more productive is a somewhat risky excercise. If you think checking your Facebook is a black-hole of time wasting, try researching topics like 'How to get your house in order in 7 easy steps' or 'Ideas for getting on top of the laundry.' Before you know it an hour has passed and all you have to show for it is a list of ideas for renovating your house to make folding the clothes more enjoyable and achievable. 


To save you the time, I am going to share with you the BEST of my research findings. It comes down to this simple idea:


1) Don't set a goal: make a rule.


This means breaking down the big goals into their practical components. For example, rather than having a goal to improve your children's diet - you make it a rule to only give them a lunch-order once a week. Something like that.


Likewise, don't set yourself the goal of getting your readings done before the tutorial each Friday. Rather make it a rule that each Thursday evening from 8:00-8:30pm you do the reading. You will have to make this fit into your life so that it is achievable for you.


2) Change from 'thinking' to 'doing' mode.


For me, having a goal is more about the thinking, the planning, the aiming, the striving....there isn't much D-O-I-N-G. Taking the approach of making rules and sticking to them requires actions rather than intention. You might find it hard to believe at the time, but often it is actually quicker to do something than it is to think about doing it. Like me and my laundry (I know, I know, so boring and still not resolved) I am constantly thinking of new ideas and approaches when really I should just get off my *bum* and fold the towels.


3) It doesn't take long to make the rules stick.


As you know with kids, while they generally grumble and moan about rules, they are often the first to remind you when they have witnessed a sibling or playground friend crossing the line between 'allowed' and 'not allowed'. I know my kids could be recruited by any of the world's elite law-enforcement agencies that require the ability to sniff out OTHER people's transgressions.  Use this to your advantage. Tell the kids it is a rule that you need to do your homework (or reading or typing or whatever you call your uni work in your house) otherwise you will get into trouble with your teacher. They will be straight onto you if you don't stick to your plans. And plus, there is some benefit to your visualising an imaginary teacher to hold you to account. 


Of course this won't work with younger kids but if you can just try make these 'rules' your new habit, new way of life, hopefully it won't take long before they become second nature and you are on your way to getting things done and achieving your G-O-A-L-S - albeit in manageable, practical components.


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