This is a living text that aims to capture the various principles that emerged from either accomplishing my goals or missing them. They have come out of my genuine reflections on my attempts towards growing through life.
What are Principles? Why articulate and follow them?
On my forever learning journey, I began to see trends when things went well and when it did not. There seemed to be certain simple (but hard to follow) principles that began to emerge. Therefore, I began articulating them – something like a formula to improve and follow for the next time.
Principles are a way of successfully dealing with the laws of nature or laws of the game you are playing. Every game has principles and the successful players master them to achieve results – so does life and each category of it – personal and professional.
Through my experiences, I have come to conclude that those who articulate, understand, and follow these (or their own) principles, grow through life as compared to those who are unaware or avoid living by these principles.
Formula for Articulating Principles
These principles emerge and get refined by real-life experiences that somewhat follow the following 5-steps;
- Working for what you want – Setting Goals
- Come up with an initial plan – Getting Started
- Figure out weaknesses in my plan – Feedback and Reflection
- Humility and Curiosity – Question and don’t get delusional
- Result, Learn, and Repeat – experience the result and reflect to do it better next time
Yes, achieving any goal is as simple as the 5 steps above. For example, my goal of strength training followed the above order to derive “Fitness Principles” that I now follow and continue to refine.
However, the most fundamental principles that influence all other areas of life are life principles. These principles influence all other principles that I develop – i-e fitness principles, writing principles, etc.
The Most Fundamental Life Principle
Before I share my life principles, it is important to understand my belief system that shapes them for me;
I believe there are an infinite number of laws of the universe and that all progress or dreams achieved come from operating in a way that consistent with them. We humans can either work in harmony with them or avoid them and face the consequences.
For example, if you don’t exercise and diet, your health and longevity will suffer as compared to exercising and eating healthy. In other words, almost everything that happens in your life is your doing.
Lastly, the following two factors are also core to my belief system;
- Finite Time – The faster you recover from setbacks and accomplish your goals the better off you are. To do so, you have to have a kryptonite-like attitude;
Attitude – Attitude in life is the single most important factor as quality of your decisions impact the quality of your life.
All of that finally brings me to the most fundamental life principle;
Life Principle: Truth – an accurate and non-biased understanding of reality – is critical for you to get to your end-goal.
What? Truth? Really? Yes (in my opinion). Let me explain.
As emotional creatures and imperfect humans, the truth is ugly most of the time and we try our best to hide it. Our ego, procrastination, fear of failure, insecurities among other things keep us far from the truth. This is the single factor behind why many self-help books are sold but very few success stories that follow.
Furthermore, truth is not obvious and it is sometimes very difficult to accept. For example, food chain (us eating other living things), looming death (finite time), or that goals always take longer to achieve.
However, regardless of how hard it is to accept, it is how nature works and humans are no different. For example;
- Natural Evolution – the natural movement towards better adaptation to our environment is the greatest force in the universe. Our minds and bodies are also designed to evolve so don’t ignore it.
- Desire to Evolve – is probably humanity’s most pervasive driving force. If you can learn to master this, you will succeed.
How do you stay close to the truth?
Here are the questions I ask myself to stay closest to the truth;
1. Do you allow pain to stand in the way of their progress or understand how to manage pain to produce progress?
This is the core law of nature to evolve one has to push the limits, which is painful, in order to gain strength – whether it’s in the form of lighting weights, facing problems, embracing fear or in any other way.
Pain + Reflection = Progress
Ask Yourself – How big of an impediment is psychological pain to your progress?
2. Do you avoid facing “harsh realities” vs face “harsh reality”?
Understanding what is real is the first step toward optimal dealing with it make better decisions.
For example- wanting to save animals from getting eaten up by lions without accepting that it is a law of nature. Or living life as there is infinite time, hence the procrastination.
Ask Yourself – How much do you let what you wish to be true stand in the way of seeing what is really true?
3. Do you worry about appearing good vs worry about achieving the goal?
People who worry about looking good typically hide what they don’t know and hide their weaknesses, so they never learn how to properly deal with them and these weaknesses remain impediments in the future.
People who are interested in making the best possible decisions are rarely confident that they have the best possible answers.
Ask Yourself – How much do you worry about looking good relative to actually being good?
4. Do you make their decisions on the basis of first order consequences or make their decisions on the basis of first second and third order consequences?
People who over way the first order consequences of decisions and ignore the effects that the second and subsequent order consequences will have on their goals rarely reach their goals
Example- First consequence of exercise is pain and time sink but following is better health and longevity. Most of us avoid it because of the intial pain.
Ask Yourself – How much do you respond to 1st order consequences at the expense of 2nd and 3rd order consequences?
5. Do you not hold themselves accountable vs hold yourself accountable?
Successful people understand that the bad things come that everyone and that is their responsibility you make to realize what they want them to be by successfully dealing with whatever challenges that they face
Ask Yourself – how much you let yourself off the hook rather than hold yourself accountable for your success?
In summary, I believe that you can achieve almost anything in your life if you can suspend your ego and take a no excuses approach to achieving your goals with open-mindedness, determination, courage and forever learning.
How could these principles help you?
Here is the bad news. These principles are of most value to each of us when they come from our own encounters with reality and reflection of these encounters – not from being taught or simply accepting someone else’s (or my) principles.
I have only come to truly resonate with them after experiencing them myself. To get started yourself, I would suggest to follow the 5-step approach to coming up with these principles and asking yourself the above questions – honestly.
How I (try my best) practise these principles daily
I must confess that writing these principles is a lot easier to write vs living them. For many years, I struggled to live by them but have eventually gotten better – and I’m still at it. I have made the painful mistake of thinking and wanting to be perfect – I am not sure if that will ever come.
On a daily basis, I write in my daily journal which allows me to think through my principles by asking myself honest questions. Furthermore, I further strengthen my “muscle” or “weaknesses” by doing 30 day experiments.
Inspired in 2012 by: Ray Dalio’s Principles