You’ll recall that on Tuesday I wrote about how to begin crafting a Rule of Life. Here are a few next-step thoughts to consider as you think about crafting your own Rule:
Keep it Moving
This is a living document. You will not ultimately create your magnum opus Rule of Life that will work perfectly for you for the rest of your life. Real talk: I still have not created one Rule that works just right for me, and I’ve been trying for five years.
It’s a process.
A Rule of Life is a living document that will change as you do. If something isn’t working, change it. If you can’t seem to live with what you created, scrap the whole thing and start over (just make sure you aren’t doing this solely out of frustration or perfectionism).
Make Small Changes
While a Rule of Life shouldn’t be wholly aspirational, it can be useful for making positive changes in your life, creating a path to greater abundance and fulfillment. The key to this is to make small, sustainable changes. While an hour of yoga every morning followed by an hour of meditation would probably be very beneficial, the benefits will be lost when, after a few days, you give up and throw in the towel (unless you already have this practice—if so, kudos!).
You might, however, be able to set your alarm ten minutes earlier and start your day with five minutes of meditation and a few stretches. As this becomes habit and you begin to see positive changes in your life, perhaps you will be moved to lengthen the time and add practices gradually. Perhaps you will even work up to hours of morning meditation and yoga.
Or perhaps you will find that meditation and yoga are really not your thing, and you will scrap it to spend half an hour painting or cycling, or playing the oboe. Remember: living document.
Make Smart Changes
One caveat to making incremental changes is the concept that certain changes work better together. Recent research shows that sometimes we are more successful in making changes when we change a number of things that work in tandem, for example sleep, exercise, and diet. Getting more or better sleep can increase energy for exercise and make it easier to make good choices concerning diet. Regular exercise can make it easier to fall asleep and sleep soundly, and complements a healthy diet. A healthy (and thoughtful) diet can positively influence sleep and provide necessary energy for exercise…you get the picture.
I don’t think it’s a huge stretch to say the same is true for spiritual practices—worship supports your prayer life and vice versa—and probably other areas as well. So as you make small changes, consider whether there are changes that will affect other areas, and consider making a few small changes at once, where appropriate.
Ultimately, I think having a workable, growth-oriented, good-habit-focused, flexible, long-term Rule of Life will serve you better than any well-intentioned New Year’s Resolution. Give it a try in 2017!
Have you started a Rule of Life? Do you think you will?