While big dreams, big goals and staying focused on what you want are the ethos around achievement and success and personal development, and that is all exciting, it’s the smaller things that shape all of those changes.
You might start a new habit, you might take a new class or you might quit something. You might follow a list of steps that others have taken or go your own way, trailblazing for yourself.
But, ultimately, what’s been the make-or-break factor in o much of my life hasn’t been what big moves to make or what big habits or steps to take but, rather, some personal policies for how I live.
When I realized that my energy would dive at certain points of the day, that my free time would get filled with Internet waste of time, that I would answer a phone call and wind up angry or derailed in my day…
These are all times where it was time for a personal policy.
It was the most empowering way I went from being the effect of life to being the creator of life in all these seemingly small ways. The results were anything but small. Its been game changing.
If you called me three years ago, I would pick up the phone regardless of whether or not I had the time to talk. I’d also answer the phone for people who dragged me down, used me or siphoned my energy. It was just what I did.
I also answered spammy emails and wasted time on minute things every day that had no importance. I did it because that was what I did– I was there for everyone. (Except myself!)
If you saw me working until 10pm or later it would be an average day five years ago. If you asked me to do something and I didn’t have the time, I would make the time… and I would keep making more time that I didn’t have.
I’d also have a glass of wine at a party I didn’t want to stay at in order to make it tolerable. Not the worst thing to do, but I wound up feeling dull and headachy the next day every time, wondering why I wasted my time.
I’d forget to drink water all day, I’d forget to have a meal here and there, and I’d forget to take breaks when I was on a roll with something creative.
I believed all of these little things that seemed just a part of life were “just the way things were” for me, the price of living my dreams or anything else I would try to romanticize and frame in a way that seemed noble.
What wasn’t noble over time was how I ultimately felt, how I looked, how I thought about myself and how I was slipping– in the midst of all this “success” — into gradually becoming the effect of my own life.
I couldn’t imagine a time where I took real time off, cooked again in a leisurely way or felt excited about socializing. I had painted myself into a very tight corner where the price of my creative dream life was that I was left behind.
That’s when I started creating more personal policies.
I don’t consider them as rules that confine me, but, rather, as my list of freedom-making brilliant things to do!
You can create a little policy for yourself around anything that you feel you’re the effect of— whether it’s habits, the time you spend at parties, the interactions you have, the way you create your schedule.
One by one, each policy became a part of creating so much energy, focus and “cause” over life, and I didn’t realize how easy these things were.
Here are just a few of the smallest things that gave me a lot of my energy and vibrance back–
I’m not always available. I don’t answer calls or even texts now, lately, unless they’re emergencies or special occasions after a certain hour now, nor do I answer calls during the day when I really don’t have the time unless they are for something special.
I hate to drink alcohol so I don’t do it at all now. This was so freedom making, I can’t believe I didn’t do it sooner. I’m sure I’ll have a glass of champagne or something in the future, but not because I am not wanting to be somewhere! For the simple reason that the only time I’d have a drink was because I was somewhere I didn’t want to be, and it would invariably make me feel terrible, I just stopped. With that, the bigger policy was that I wouldn’t force myself to stay at social events when it was too late for me, when I didn’t feel like being there or for any other reason. Forcing myself to be somewhere is not fun. Period.
My phone/computer have hours of operation now! It’s a weird thing but I felt I could work at all hours if my computer was on. The phone was the backup work machine. Now… I shut off my phone when I meditate, do my spiritual practice, sleep… and I don’t turn it on until I have done all my morning routines every morning.
I don’t argue with people who are angry or passive aggressive. I limit the amount that I even deal with people who are chronically angry or passive aggressive, but, now, I have very clear policies on how I communicate when I have to do it! When I feel myself getting drawn into a spiral that can easily escalate into a fight, I just stop. I change the subject, get off the phone, or anything to not go down a path that leads nowhere good.
These are just a few. Every one of them was like waves of light flooding fresh energy back into my life.
They built over time, and there was one key to each one of them—
None are restrictive, none took energy to accomplish and none of them required any willpower.
Every personal policy I have shares one characteristic: IT FEELS AMAZING and was a GIFT to MYSELF.
Personal policies are my way of shaping space. They keep me brighter. They’ve allowed me to really grow– not by working intensely hard but, rather, by choosing to avoid all lots of things that ultimately drained my life force!
If you’re feeling like your days are getting the best of you, a few personal polices– or even just one that hits the spot– can be the easiest way to take your power back.
It’s self love in action that’s so effortless but it will leave you feeling supercharged!
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These are really helpful suggestions. I love the idea of my phone and computer having hours of operation!! I also am giving thought to your suggestion about arguing. I never really thought about that these are angry people. It makes sense not to get into a discussion or argument with someone who is already angry! Really got benefit from this post.. thanks