Make Your Life Lines Brighter
My core philosophy for improving the quality of our life, whether it be in your health, productivity, relationships, mindfulness, or whatever, is to raise your baseline. When you hold yourself to a higher standard on a daily basis, and improve the quality and consistency of the fundamentals, that’s when you really put yourself in a position to achieve sustainable growth.
More specifically, when we have clearly defined standards for how we want to be and behave on a daily basis, then we have a benchmark to measure our lives against to see how we did.
This philosophy of raising your baseline comes primarily from Brian Johnson at Heroic, and recently he shared an additional metaphor that I want to connect to enforcing your standards.
Imagine you’re driving a car on a freeway. As you go fast on the road the white lines on each side of the lane blur to create almost a single faint line. This is your path forward, and you stay between the lines. But when you need to exit, or do something different, then you need to switch lanes. So what you do is see where the lines of your lane are, see the lines of the lane you want to be in, and safely cross the lines to find your new best spot.
You’re the car, the lines are your standards, and your objective is to make the lines of your lane as bright as possible.
What does that mean?
When you’re about to deviate from your protocol, compromise a standard, or not meet your personal expectations in some way, you want it to be as obvious as possible. Instead of drifting out of the lane you’re in without realizing it, you want full awareness that it’s happening.
This does two things for you: First, if you were drifting without realizing it, it gives you the opportunity to make a new choice to get back on track and course correct. Second, if you are willing to go outside of your protocol, it acknowledges that you’re doing it by choice and intentionally. This makes you feel less guilty about it because you see it as a well thought out exception rather than a lapse in discipline or commitment.
As for creating brighter lines in your life, and clearly defining your standards... You must take the time to identify exactly what you want and be accountable to it. How many times a week do you want to work out? How many nights a week do you want to go to bed on time? Under what circumstances are you okay with having dessert or cheat meals? How often is it acceptable to work beyond 5pm, or on weekends?
Without these standards in place you won’t know when you’ve crossed the line, which makes it way more likely that you’ll cross the line often. And every time that happens it comes at the expense of you being able to feel and perform at your very best.