Review: 12 Rules For Life

I just finished reading this incredible book and here are my thoughts.

The rules of this book are at the same time thought provoking, revealing and yet vaguely familiar. Almost as if these rules are truths that I have come to know through some combination of life experience, common sense, and my own observations of others but had not seen them all put into language in one place. Peterson uses examples from his life, his clients from his sessions as a clinical psychologist, literature, the Bible, history, and science to make his points. If you have ever heard him speak during an interview or a lecture, the text reads like he talks: precise, rhythmically logical, defiantly and uncompromisingly true. In a time when political correctness and spin stifle any opinion that makes us to face the uncomfortable and inconvenient questions, it is a daring but necessary act for this book to have been written. 

My personal favorite rule is rule number 10 which is “be precise in your speech”. As an avid student of languages I understand the importance that articulating an idea into words is. To formulate an idea into speech is to bring it to existence. It takes an unknowable and terrifyingly limitless monster and shrinks it into a manageable and approachable problem. Putting into language what is bothering you is the first step to tackling it because then you know what you are up against and can prepare yourself accordingly. Ignore a problem and refuse to acknowledge it in precise terms and you lack the ability to know what focus and direction needs to be taken to handle it. That is why journaling or talking things through with another person is so helpful to understanding what course of action to take. It is the act of identifying a problem enough to be able to articulate its being that is so crucial to being able to solve it.

To say that I recommend this book would be an understatement. It has given me much to consider when I look at my life and I have some ideas on where to start to improve myself. One area that rule number 10 applies is my relationships. I have known for the longest time that I am a people pleaser and attempt to avoid uncomfortable conversations (however necessary) at all costs and if I do bring up an issue I feel as if I do a poor job of articulating it effectively to even have been worth bringing up it at all. But, I want to change that immediately after reading this book because the alternative is more dangerous and tragic in the long term. If you read the book, what rule spoke to you the most and how do you see yourself implementing it in your life?

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Stop Working On All of Your Goals

If you’re anything like me, you have a lot of projects and a lot of goals that you’re trying to achieve all at once. And if you find yourself in a cycle of starting, losing steam a few days in, stopping, feeling bad for stopping and then vowing you’ll finally see a project through this time, let’s do both of ourselves a favor and end this circus.

I have discovered a more effective way of finishing my goals sans the self-doubt and discouragement. It’s so simple, yet easy to overlook in a world that demands us to be bigger, faster, stronger. Here it is:

Begin only one goal at a time and focus on mastering your process

How I used to operate is, I would have a burst of enthusiasm that was probably inspired by my procrastination and start to work on a list of things that I wanted to achieve. I would start a blog, exercise everyday, learn Arabic, create a meal plan, read a book a week, and start writing a book all at once. I would have a lot of fun planning all of this out, but the longest I’ve ever gone on this sort of regime was probably 2 weeks. Not exactly a sufficient time frame to even begin to make a small dent in that list.

The reason I would inevitably give up on everything is that I had not yet mastered the different processes for each item on that list. I was being pulled in too many directions at once without firmly establishing the rhythm of even one project into my life.

What must be done instead is start with one. For example, if I was learning Arabic at the beginning of the month I would start my process by committing to study at least 10 pages from a self-guided language learning book, or 1 exercise a day, or whatever method of measurement is the right fit for me.

After I giving myself enough time to form the habit of learning Arabic, let’s say 1 month, I can add on starting a blog. I will commit myself to that new process of posting twice a week for a month before adding on another project. If at any point, I have begun to slip in my processes, I will need to remove the very last project that was added and wait another month before re-assimilating it.

It could be that I reached my mental or physical capacity for learning and working on new things, so instead of stopping all of my projects, I can sacrifice delaying one. This way I will strengthen my capability to learn and my other projects will continue moving along.

With this method of incrementally adding goals or projects to your list, I believe you will find yourself finishing them quicker. This method is really a system that helps you learn how to learn, which is an absolute necessity for success. It’s been a game changer for me and I you should try it too — I am asking you to do less after all!

Let me know what you guys think,

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