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 by Jerry Silfwer (Instagram)

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

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

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 for me.

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 get your household in order.

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 they 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 end result but how it impacts me today. According to this line of 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 be writing 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 here is James Clear’s approach to habits (as described in his best-selling book Atomic Habits) by focusing on small but frequent incremental improvements to reach … 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; if I’m not prepared to set aside daily tasks, it’s not worth my long-term focus.

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 comes with an interesting constraint: there’s only so much time in a single 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.

Thank you for reading this article. Please consider supporting my work by sharing it with other PR- and communication professionals. For questions or PR support, contact me via [email protected].

1 An interesting parallel here is James Clear’s approach to habits (as described in his best-selling book Atomic Habits) by 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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