Bright-Line Rules

Dec 19, 2017

Industry News

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Bright-Line Rule

One way to combine discipline, motivation and habits is to create your own versions of “bright-line rules”.

A bright-line rule refers to a clearly defined rule or standard. It is a rule with clear interpretation and very little wiggle room. It establishes a bright line for what the rule is saying and what it is not saying. Plain and simple. Clear and bright.

Most of us could benefit from setting brighter lines in our personal and professional lives. Consider some common examples:

  • We might say that we want to check email less frequently.
  • We might say that we want to drink moderately.
  • We might say that we want to save more for retirement.
  • We might say that we want to eat healthier.

But what do these statements really mean? Are you going to “try to do better” and hope that works? How will you know if you are making progress? It can be easy to make promises like this to yourself, but they do not create bright lines. Fuzzy statements make progress hard to measure, and the things we measure are the things we improve.

Now, do we need to measure every area of our lives? Of course not. But if something is important to you, then you should establish a bright line for it. Consider the following alternatives:

  • I only process emails between 11AM and 6PM.
  • I enjoy a maximum of 2 drinks per night.
  • I save R500 per month for retirement.
  • I eat at least two types of vegetables per day.

These statements establish bright lines. These statements make action steps precise and obvious. Vague promises will never lead to clear results. But start small, the goal is not to change everything at once. Over time, you can progressively move your bright line forward and add other behaviors to the mix.


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