Are there certain rules you live by? For example, “I am true to my word”, “turn the other cheek”, “an eye for an eye”. Are these rules written somewhere, or are they more “informal”, existing in your mind but not in writing?
Do you find you have habits or structures in your life that both give you and your life meaning and, and the same time, create boundaries and limitations?
Are you ever frustrated by a conflict between what you want to do and what you have to do?
The nature of results
Why is it that some things in this world happen reliably, as if by clockwork, so consistently we can set a clock by them or stake a life on them? Even if we don’t want them…
Yet, other things happen inconsistently, if at all, even if we want or even need them desperately…
“When we argue for our limitations, we get to keep them.”
Where habit is involved, it’s a certainty that predictable things occur because a policy exists (even if it’s just an informal policy) that these things happen.
Where things are happening, as if by default, even where there’s not a formal agreement for them to be happening, I’m not suggesting there’s a written plan or document that this action or circumstance is agreed.
I am saying a combination of circumstances arose over time that made these repetitive events and circumstances acceptable, and maybe even desirable. There was a reward in them at one time, and as a result they persisted.
Alternatively, there may have been a punishment (or a perceived punishment or negative outcome), and a behavior started in response to that negative outcome, and has since persisted.
Policy: noun “a high-level overall plan embracing the general goals and acceptable procedures”
I’m also saying anyplace a set of behaviors exists, with or without conscious intention or agreement, there’s an opportunity for a conscious intention or agreement to be crafted, and possibly to replace the earlier condition.
Policy: noun “a definite course or method of action selected from among alternatives and in light of given conditions to guide and determine present and future decisions”
Fundamental to your success in any initiative, you and others must behave in a way consistent with your desired results. The more misalignment between actions and intentions, the more likely the desired results will not be achieved.
“All successful people men and women are big dreamers. They imagine what their future could be, ideal in every respect, and then they work every day toward their distant vision, that goal or purpose.”
“Always, Always have a plan”
How to choose
As we create power and a driving force, that force needs to be applied in a specific direction. Force without direction can create movement, but the result can be uncertain.
Since you’re looking for a specific result, we want to create some tools to direct the power you create.
Policies are the tools we’ll use to direct our effort.
Policies give us specific targets for thought and deed. They will direct us even when we’re not thinking about anything in particular. They’ll define boundaries for behavior.
By creating behavioral norms, they’ll lead to habits if we persist in following them consistently.
Because they quickly begin to work in the background, if we let them, we don’t even need to work that hard to develop the habits.
If we initially keep our policies at top of mind, we create habitual thoughts. Those thoughts will begin to direct us habitually, even when we’re not aware we have momentum or thought or action underway.
Have you ever pulled your car into your driveway, only to be startled at the realization you have no idea how you got there? You know you drove, but you have no awareness that you’d been driving? This is an example of your internal policy to go home every night. You’ve practiced it so often, you can get home even when you’re not actively thinking about it. By creating the policy of going home every night, then doing it consistently over a long time, you can get home on “auto-pilot”.
While going home may seem like “not a big deal” because it may have never developed any emotional content or stress or fear or anxiety for you, it’s a perfect example of the calm, thoughtful, intentional approach we want you to develop around all changes in your life.
Change can be difficult, but it doesn’t have to be painful!
Another related example
If you’re like most people, at some point you moved to a new home or apartment. You haven’t lived, where you live now, your whole life. So it was a change at some point, and you executed this change flawlessly.
Sure, you may have needed directions the first few times, You may have overshot or made a wrong turn a few times. However, eventually, you could get there flawlessly by the first route you learned.
Over time, you may have learned other routes. Eventually, you could get there at all hours of the day or night, in the light or in the dark, in any weather, from any direction, and you can do it on auto-pilot.
Use policies to create directional imperatives that, consistently lived, will result in habits that lead you to results you want.
For more information
- Merriam-Webster’s definition of “policy”
- Brian Tracy quote from: Personal Success
- Peter Drucker quote from: Emery, Stewart. “Success Built to Last: Creating a Life that Matters” (Kindle Locations 330-331). Pearson Education.
- How You Felt About Gym Class May Impact Your Exercise Habits Today, The New York Times, August 22, 2018
- Evelyn Waugh: By Carl Van Vechten (1880–1964) – This image is available from the United States Library of Congress‘s Prints and Photographs division under the digital ID cph.3a42832. This tag does not indicate the copyright status of the attached work. A normal copyright tag is still required. See Commons:Licensing for more information., Public Domain, Link
- Brian Tracy: Photo courtesy of Peter at BrianTracy.com
- Rick Riordan: By Rhododendrites – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link