You’re about to discover how to get more done, make more money, and still get home on time for dinner. Today you’re going to walk away with 5 personal rules for your life that will make you a better business owner and parent.
But before I do that, I want you to think about what’s been keeping you up at night. What are those pains and pinches causing you stress and anxiety?
Everyone has them. Even me. In fact, I once had stress so bad that it sent me to the hospital twice. The year was 2006 and that was when I hit rock bottom. Back then I was still a part-time personal trainer and my online business was just beginning to take off.
Things were going well. Too well. I ended up becoming so successful (thanks to Tom Venuto’s coaching!) that I was able to quit my job as a personal trainer and now I had ALL the freedom in the world. I had the freedom to get up when I wanted… to stay out late… to chase girls every night of the week… And it brought me to my knees.
That’s the Paradox of Freedom – too much freedom often leads to stress and anxiety.
Look at the Johnny Depps of the world, the rich kids of Instagram, the rock stars that OD on pills, the Internet Marketing gurus making tons of money but with home lives in shambles because they lack structure and discipline in their personal life…
Too Much Money + No Rules = A Disaster Waiting to Happen
Back in 2006, the paradox of freedom gave me severe anxiety and panic attacks. For six weeks straight, 24 hours a day and 7 days a week, I felt as if I was having a heart attack. There were tingles from the top of my head down to my fingertips. I had a tight chest, elevated heart rate, and I couldn’t breathe.
It was so intense that twice during those six weeks, at the start and at the end, I walked into an emergency room in Toronto and said, “I think I’m having a heart attack.”
(And let me tell you, if ever walk into a busy emergency room and want to get to the front of the line, just say you’re having a heart attack. They’ll take you to the back right away!)
It was the LOWEST point of my life. There I was, a 30-year old world-famous personal trainer, an exercise guru with his workouts featured in Men’s Health magazine each month, and I thought I was going to die. It was the LOWEST point of my life.
I tried everything to get healthy again. I did meditation, Qi Gong, and Yoga…I even bought a puppy because I read that petting a dog reduced anxiety. But the dog I bought, old Bally, didn’t want to play fetch, didn’t want to walk around the block, and cried every time I left him at home because he was so anxious.
And suddenly I realized that I had bought the dog version of me!
Fortunately, by turning over every rock and investigating every natural therapy, I was finally able to overcome my anxiety in May of 2006. And what I discovered during my struggles was the importance of having STRUCTURE in your life.
Here’s the Paradox of Structure: The more structure and discipline you have in your life, the more freedom you will earn and enjoy.
Now you might be thinking, “Craig, that just doesn’t make any sense.”
Hear me out. Or at least listen to Paulo Coelho, the famous author of The Alchemist, who said it much more eloquently than me when he wrote:
“Discipline and freedom are not mutually exclusive, but mutually dependent, because without discipline you would sink into chaos.”
Think about how this applies to your everyday life. It doesn’t matter where you live, your city has red lights and stop signs, and you obey them. Why? Those are the rules of the road, and when you follow these rules, you get to your destination safely, and you can enjoy the freedom of being there. The rules of the road give you freedom and security.
That’s the perfect analogy for having rules for your life. Besides, you already live by personal rules, you just haven’t taken the time to think about them and write them down.
If you follow the Paleo diet (or any kind of diet), you have nutrition rules. If you do Cross-Fit or bodybuilding, you have exercise rules. If you’re a parent and you enforce a bedtime on your children, you have rules for their life. So yes, everyone follows rules.
Now it’s a matter of building the best rules for you so that you get better results.
There are 5 rules you need for your life:
Rule #1: Be Consistent to Bed and Getting Up in the Morning
Establishing a consistent bedtime and wake-up time seven days a week is the best thing you can do for consistent all-day energy levels. Of course, there will be a couple of nights per week when you stay up late. That’s fine. But you must never stray too far from your wake-up time. Don’t sleep in. That sets off a vicious cycle of not being able to fall asleep the next night and feeling tired for the following two or three days. Instead, wake up on time and compensate with a mid-day nap or go to bed earlier the next night.
Rule #2: Focus on Your #1 Priority for 15 Minutes in the Morning
To get ahead in life you need to focus on what matters. The best time to do that is in the morning when you are without distractions. Set a rule that you work on your number one priority in life for at least fifteen minutes after you wake-up. That could be Bible study, fixing your finances, figuring out a marketing plan to make more sales, or spending that time in exercise to regain your health. Fifteen minutes might sound insignificant, but done six (or seven days) a week for months on end brings incredible results.
Rule #3: Have One Health Habit that Makes a Major Impact On Your Well-being
Everyone should have a health rule that sets the foundation of all other habits for your health and well-being. It might describe your eating philosophy (Paleo, vegan, etc.) or perhaps the type and frequency of exercise or stress reduction you do (“I take a one-hour hike in the fresh air three times per week” or “I lift weights three times per week for twenty minutes” or “I never miss a morning meditation session of 10 minutes”).
Rule #4: Do One Wealth Building Action Step Each Day
ETR’s founder, Mark Ford, taught us to become wealthier every day, even if it is just by a few dollars. And so we should all have a rule that helps us do so. For example, a sales professional might have a rule that “I make 5 sales calls before lunch every work day.” A writer might choose to “write 1,500 words before 2 p.m. each day” (Stephen King follows a similar rule, for example). Whatever your role, there is a way to structure a wealth building rule that gets you closer to your financial freedom.
Rule #5: Have a NOT To Do to Keep You Out of Trouble!
It’s important to know and act on your number one priority in life. It’s almost equally as important to know – and avoid – the things you should not do. If you don’t believe me, just ask one of the world’s wealthiest men.
“The difference between successful people and really successful people,” Warren Buffett once said, “is that really successful people say no to almost everything.”
Your rule might be “No drinking alcohol during the work week” or “I don’t check personal email until after 7 p.m.” or a rule like mine that says, “I do not engage in confrontations with anyone, in-person or online. This is a waste of time and energy. If I have caused harm, I apologize and fix the situation. And then I take a deep breath, relax, breathe out, and re-focus my efforts back on my work and goals.”
Create your rules. Print them out. Keep them in front of you at all times.
Your rules will bring you structure. Your structure will bring you TRUE freedom.
But without structure, you’ll suffer from “too much freedom.”
Yes, too much freedom is a 1st World Problem, but listen, you live in the 1st world. This is your reality. Forget about the criticisms of others. These 1st world problems are holding you back, and it’s time to fix this, otherwise it will only get worse if you wait to take care of it. Without the right structure in your life you’ll miss out on the true freedom and independence you should be enjoying. You’ll be working too hard, sacrificing too much, and harming yourself in your never-ending quest to help others.
This can’t go on. Your days of martyring yourself for others are over. You’ve done the work, paid your dues, and you deserve a life. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you’re not letting money and time slip through your hands, because being overwhelmed and anxious causing exactly this to happen. I know. Trust me.
When you lose time, it’s gone forever… your idea of success must change… It’s not about money… You must treat time, not money, as your ultimate prize in life.
Craig Ballantyne is the editor of Early to Rise and has had workouts featured in Men’s Health and Women’s Health magazines. He knows that women can make significant breakthroughs in productivity and body image with a healthy morning routine. His newest program for women shares a unique 6-minute routine that can help you lose weight. And his newest program for men shares how to rapidly boost your testosterone in just 8 minutes a day.