The Rulebook

In the coaching certification process, we try out all the tools and techniques on ourselves and other coaches, before using them with clients. One tool we experimented with is called “The Rulebook.” Inside this small booklet are twenty blank pages each entitled with “Rule” at the top of the page. The idea is that we all run our lives with rules we’ve adopted from parents, role models, relationships that tell us things like “being late is rude” or “respect is others doing what I ask” or even “success will be when I buy a home in San Francisco.” This book is so powerful because we can rewrite new rules that we choose to follow, not ones we have blindly following without our own consent. These rules may work in our childhood environment, but not in our chosen environment as adults. When they aren’t serving us any longer, we can re-write our rules.

It works like this: write down an old rule and then a new rule you want to follow. Define it by some behaviors or decisions that follow. For example:

Old rule: “I am always tired in the mornings, not a morning person!”

New rule: “I will be more cheerful each morning.”

  • Will sing in the shower before work
  • Will drink orange juice
  • Will put on a bright outfit when necessary
  • Will wake up 10 minutes earlier, no rushing anymore
  • Will stop at the bakery every morning to walk with a warm coffee in hand
  • Will listen to music, not news during my commute

**notice I never use the word try**

A transition is an especially ideal opportunity to create new intentions and actually rewrite old rules that you don’t feel are useful to you anymore. Transitions are natural times to reflect on what was good about the old, and what we like about the new. We can put both these things together to make something better. The Rulebook can be a helpful tool to develop a new routine in a new job or neighborhood, since you haven’t yet set your habits. While you’re furnishing your new apartment maybe you buy some speakers to listen to tunes in the morning. Your new job may require a different type of wardrobe: an opportunity to find some brightly colored shirts to wake you up in the mornings. For me in Germany the office attire is completely different from my job in the U.S., so I have more choices of what to wear; while I begin working it is a chance to be conscious of what I choose to wear. A new neighborhood is a good time to find a new café on the corner and make a friend with the barista.

All this is to say, that when we make a transition to someplace new, we are automatically no longer on Autopilot. We can take advantage of that! Our eyes are a bit more open to noticing unfamiliar things around us and nothing is habitual or already comfortable. So be intentional about what you chose to put in your daily routine, remember, you get to choose! To get you started on an Anti-Autopilot day:

All this is to say, that when we make a transition to someplace new, we are automatically no longer on Autopilot. We can take advantage of that! Our eyes are a bit more open to noticing unfamiliar things around us and nothing is habitual or already comfortable. So be intentional about what you chose to put in your daily routine, remember, you get to choose! To get you started on an Anti-Autopilot day:

  • – What can you add to your morning to make a positive start to your day?
  • What mode of transport makes you feel best? (think comfort and environment)
  • When do you feel most ready to start your day?
  • What can you do after work that gives you something to look forward to?
  • What do you want to put in your body each day that makes you feel healthy?
  • What transition are you making that creates an opportunity to make a healthy decision? What is that decision?
  • What helps you to remember the positive things in your life? (think photos, music you associate with positive memories, people you can call)
  • What business in your community do you want to regularly give your money to?
  • What is something new you can open yourself up to?

These are all things we have to develop when we enter a new sphere, yet if we just let things happen to us and don’t consciously make choices about what we want, we lose our intentionality of being. We end up running to work and spilling coffee on our white shirt when we let ourselves be rushed, and live by old rules that tell us we are not okay to be late, or show up coffee stained. We have intention and purpose when we make conscious choices guided by what is important to us and what we value. So think twice before you let something simply fall into a routine in your life without your awareness.

You have a choice.

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