An example of an effective rule
This morning I was coaching a client who was struggling with overeating in the evening. And overeating on some “iffy” foods: crackers and peanut butter, pretzels, etc. Stuff her spouse still ate, so it was still in the house, tempting her.
After going back and forth on what was permissible and what wasn't, my client suddenly stopped and said, “Wait a minute. It's obvious. My rule is, I don't eat after dinner.”
As simple as that.
And as clear as that.
Let's apply our litmus test for an effective rule:
- Is it relevant to her issue? (Yes, completely!)
- Is it minimal? (At first you might be tempted to say maybe not. It's kind of a “nuclear option” in that it cuts off all possible foods, even maybe some good ones. But further digging showed that she simply wasn't hungry after dinner, and was eating entirely for emotional reasons. So not eating at all was a minimal solution to the problem of using food in a way that didn't achieve her goals.)
- Could 10 independent observers agree if she broke the rule or not? (Yes, it seems very objective to me, without much wiggle room at all.)
In our next coaching session, one of two things will have happened. Either my client followed her rule, or she didn't. If she did, problem solved. If not, we go through some exercises to determine what happened, and why, so we can figure out what was missing: a skill, a mindset, an environmental trigger, sufficient motivation, etc.
Make Your Own Rule
Now it's your turn: what one rule would you like to implement in your life?
You should feel 80% confident that you can do it. (But not much more than that – we want the rule to uncover some underlying resistance so you can hear it and feel it.)
It should be relevant to your goals.
It should be very clear (use the 10 independent observers rule) but not necessarily uber-strict. Just enough to get the job done.
When you've got your rule, feel free to post it in the comments section below.