Making Your Own Rules

Have you ever opened your calendar, only to see nothing but other people’s priorities staring back at you? Take a look at it now and see what the balance is like.

This happens so easily – and our calendar is just the tip of the iceberg. If you’ve ever felt swept up in the rhythm, and frustrated at how little space there is for the stuff you really care about, you are not alone.

There’s a whole lot of well-intentioned professionals walking around out there right now, feeling like plastic bags being tossed about in the wind.

Two years ago, I cleared Mondays in my calendar, and ‘Mummy Mondays’ were born. It seemed absolutely radical at the time – things had just started going mental on the work front, and I was already feeling like there weren’t enough hours in the week. I knew then that if I didn’t carve out the quality time for my girls, especially before my youngest started school, all of the urgency would eat away my time until they were left with the scraps.

Turns out, the world didn’t stop - I still don’t work Mondays, and pretty much everything waits until Tuesday. (Full disclosure: sometimes I work stupid times on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday nights!)

But with very limited exceptions, I just don’t work on Mondays and everything else fits around it.

True freedom isn’t the absence of rules – it’s the power that comes from choosing some of your own.

Last week, I talked about rules – learning the rules of the game, so you could achieve mastery. This week is all about setting some rules of your own.

True freedom isn’t the absence of rules – it’s the power that comes from choosing some of your own.

In a group coaching session last week, I had to reframe my conversation around ‘criteria’ instead, to get buy-in from a couple of the rebels. With this group, we have a great new strategy nailed, but unless senior leaders can commit the time and energy to moving it forward, it will die a forgotten death, or survive only on scraps.

Derek Sivers famously wrote a great blog post on this, for the over-committed or scattered individual – Derek suggests that if you’re not saying “HELL YEAH!” to something, then you should say no.

“You take your life in your own hands, and what happens? A terrible thing: no one to blame.” - Erica Jong

You might not need to go that far to see a change in your work environment – but if you don’t prioritise the work that matters, it won’t prioritise itself.

What rules do you need to set for yourself, to do more of what matters?

Til next week

PS - One of my most recent rules has been the establishment of a curfew – which I’ve roped my kids into making me accountable for. My 9 year old wrote this note on my work whiteboard a couple of weeks ago, and I’m considering keeping it there forever.