The PR BlogCreativitySelf-ImprovementThe Every Day Rule: How I Stay Focused and On Track

The Every Day Rule: How I Stay Focused and On Track

There’s only one day — today.

Cover photo: @jerrysilfwer

The Every Day Rule is how I run my life for bet­ter results.

I’ve always been fas­cin­ated by per­son­al devel­op­ment. I know the self-help industry is a can of worms, but the idea that we can aspire to bet­ter ourselves is beautiful.

And for many years, I thought I had a great approach to achiev­ing my goals in life. However, I had to rethink everything from the ground up — because my frame­work wasn’t working.

I found a con­trari­an approach that now runs how I live my life. I call this approach the Every Day Rule.

Here’s how it works:

The Flawed Epic Year Concept

A dec­ade or so ago, I star­ted com­par­ing my years. Some years pro­pelled me for­ward by a lot, and some weren’t. The dif­fer­ence between such years wasn’t subtle; it was substantial.

I figured that years of immense per­son­al growth con­tained at least four major life events (mov­ing homes, get­ting mar­ried, hav­ing chil­dren, start­ing a new job etc.), so I named such years Epic Years.

The Epic Year Approach: Push to shorten the inter­val between sig­ni­fic­ant life events to max­im­ise per­son­al growth.

It was an under­stand­able con­clu­sion at the time, I think. 

The years between 30 and 40 can be stress­ful; a lot is sup­posed to hap­pen for any well-adjus­ted white-col­lar urb­an pro­fes­sion­al with a uni­ver­sity degree. Find someone to marry, start a fam­ily, elev­ate your career, and organ­ise your household.

Today, how­ever, I’m more relaxed about hit­ting as many mile­stones as pos­sible. And more import­antly, I find that sig­ni­fic­ant life events tend to occur on their inher­ent sched­ule and shouldn’t be forced. 

Instead, I’ve applied a drastic­ally dif­fer­ent approach.

A New Approach to Goal-Setting

I’m grow­ing less and less inter­ested in fight­ing the com­ings and goings of tides.

The change in per­spect­ive came about as I was think­ing about achieve­ments. I felt that there was a down­side to set­ting goals. A goal can quickly morph into an author­it­at­ive pres­ence in life.

And I’ve nev­er been at ease with authorities.

I reasoned that the per­fect goal provided the sense of being on the right tra­ject­ory here and now — without over-emphas­ising the import­ance of reach­ing the des­tin­a­tion as soon as possible. 

Another way to put it:

The import­ance of a goal is not its res­ult but how it impacts me today. According to this reas­on­ing, I now set goals to give mean­ing and pur­pose to my present, not my future.

Allow me to elab­or­ate fur­ther.
Because I’ve giv­en this some thought.

A green chalkboard full of intricate equations, visual art, highly detailed - The Every Day Rule
AI art. Prompt: “A green chalk­board full of intric­ate equa­tions, visu­al art, highly detailed.”

The Every Day Rule

Let’s say that I want to write a book. It’s a non-trivi­al goal and a sub­stan­tial under­tak­ing. And pub­lish­ing a book would undoubtedly qual­i­fy as a sig­ni­fic­ant life event and count toward an Epic Year.

But, If I were to write every oth­er day, I would soon write every third day, then every fourth day. And so on.

Soon enough, I wouldn’t write reg­u­larly, but the goal would still lurk in a dark corner of my brain. The idea of writ­ing a book would make me feel lousy.

A goal set to pro­pel me for­ward is instead set­ting me back.
This is not a good strategy, right?

So, for me, it’s every day — or nothing.

Why does this approach work so well for me?

  • Daily habits com­pound twice as fast as every-oth­er-day habits and will bet­ter sup­port neur­o­lo­gic­al rein­force­ment. 1An inter­est­ing par­al­lel is James Clear’s approach to habits (described in his best-selling book Atomic Habits), focus­ing on small but fre­quent incre­ment­al improve­ments to reach sig­ni­fic­ant goals … Continue read­ing
  • Doing some­thing daily makes the activ­ity part of your iden­tity, over­rid­ing the need for con­stant inspir­a­tion and motivation.
  • The Every Day Rule approach also sig­nals what to de-pri­or­it­ise; it’s not worth my long-term focus if I’m not pre­pared to set aside daily tasks.

If I write daily, being a writer becomes a part of how I identi­fy myself, like a psy­cho­lo­gic­al mas­ter override. 

Writing daily makes me a writer.
A writer writes daily.

From Long-Term Goals to Daily Efforts

Based on the Every Day Rule, I now only set goals that can be broken down into daily efforts. 

For example:

Long-Term GoalDaily Effort
Improve health.Intermittent fast­ing — one meal a day (OMAD).
Eat bet­ter food.Cook homemade din­ner every day at res­taur­ant-level quality.
Launch online course.One ses­sion of script­ing, film­ing or edit­ing every evening.
Be more grateful.Tell my wife and son I love them twice daily (morn­ing and evening).
Teach my son to read and write well.Read and dis­cuss books every night before bedtime.
Become a bet­ter photographer.Either shoot or edit a new photo daily (or learn some­thing from a tutorial).
Explore watches as a hobby.Always wear a watch but nev­er wear the same watch two days in a row.
Be more structured.Update Notion (“Second Brain”) when hav­ing cof­fee in the morning.

There’s Only One Day — Today

The Every Day Rule has an excit­ing con­straint: time in a day.

  • The goal isn’t sig­ni­fic­ant enough if I can’t carve out daily time for a par­tic­u­lar pur­suit. Discard.
  • The goal is a pipe dream if the daily effort is too uncom­fort­able or impossible. Discard.
  • If I can­not break the goal down into daily efforts, it’s a poorly framed ambi­tion. Discard.
  • If a habit isn’t daily, it doesn’t become a part of my iden­tity; thus, my motiv­a­tion will even­tu­ally run out and weigh me down. Discard.

By pri­or­it­ising daily activ­it­ies instead of goals, I’ve cre­ated more focus and achieved more sig­ni­fic­ant res­ults in less time.

Please sup­port my blog by shar­ing it with oth­er PR- and com­mu­nic­a­tion pro­fes­sion­als. For ques­tions or PR sup­port, con­tact me via jerry@​spinfactory.​com.

1 An inter­est­ing par­al­lel is James Clear’s approach to habits (described in his best-selling book Atomic Habits), focus­ing on small but fre­quent incre­ment­al improve­ments to reach sig­ni­fic­ant goals through com­pound­ing effects.
Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwer, alias Doctor Spin, is an awarded senior adviser specialising in public relations and digital strategy. Currently CEO at KIX Index and Spin Factory. Before that, he worked at Kaufmann, Whispr Group, Springtime PR, and Spotlight PR. Based in Stockholm, Sweden.

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