Trouble hitting your goals? Set some rules

I've never liked feeling tied in to rules. But as it turns out, rules are giving me freedom...

I've never liked feeling tied in to rules. But as it turns out, rules are giving me freedom...

My personality is so type B that it’s probably a C, so I’ve always balked at the idea of any kind of rules or structure. The mere thought of organization makes the hair on my toes stand up. (You don't have hair on your toes? Oh..uh..yeah me neither).

But in the past two months, I’ve snagged only a handful of workouts between travel, holidays, and life. I’ve felt sleep-deprived, exhausted and completely off-kilter. I published one blog post for the month of December and lost touch with my goals and my purpose. 

So I've turned to two things - rules and a system. (I'll talk about the system later). 


As hard as it is to believe, I've been practicing both for the past few weeks, and they are both happening. The concept of rules came from the book I’m currently listening to “Better than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives."

I started with a few basic rules - when I need to be in bed , when I need to be out of bed, and the hardest so far, when I need to put my phone away for the night. 

As strange as it sounds, because I’ve already made these decisions ahead of time, I’ve been able to stick to my rules. I used to sit on my couch on a Wednesday night, stoned from fatigue at 9:30 and try to talk myself into getting up, brushing my teeth, and crawling into bed. As silly as it sounds, I could easily put off going to bed for an hour. Many nights I’d crawl into bed by 10:30, only to read my phone for another hour and not shut the light off until midnight. 

But now, I don’t need to decide anything. (See earlier post on decision fatigue). I’ve already made my decision.

I set up my coffee pot before I go to bed, which means when I roll out of bed half-awake , I only need to push the button before meditating. The rule of getting out of bed at a certain time prompted me to set my coffee at night. The rule has led to a habit.   

My last rule might be the most surprising of all. Mostly because it wasn’t a rule before. 

I need to train three times per week. That’s my rule. 

As I told a few clients last week, much to their surprise, I’ve worked out only a handful of times since November. And I work in a gym for crying aught laud (which is how we’d say it in Pittsburgh). 

I need to work out, not just for my health, but for my sanity. I’ve prioritized everything and everyone else in these past few months. So I’ve made it a rule. I will strength train every Monday and Wednesday. That’s my rule. The decision is made. It’s on my schedule. 

Because it’s not just clients trying to get back on track in the new year. Us coaches often need fresh starts too.

You could argue that these behaviors don't need to be rules, and you're probably right. Plenty of us are in the habit of going to bed and getting up a certain time, and working out certain days of the week. But right now, the rules are helping to clarify my goals and develop habits that will help me achieve those goals.  

What are your goals? Rules? Habits? What are you struggling with? Feel free to message me on FB or email me at and let me know.