Cover image with a "Do Not Enter" sign and text that reads "Breaking My Own Rules"

Breaking My Own Rules

(Although, is it really considered “breaking” them if you’re the one who created them in the first place?)

There’s this saying that I was taught when I was younger: “Rules are for the obedience of fools and the guidance of wise men.” I’m still not entirely sure what it means, but it’s usually stated before someone goes and does something potentially rule-breaking, as if saying it absolves them of their crimes.

But anyway.

We all have rules for ourselves, right? Even if they’re not written down anywhere, we all have certain rules we set for ourselves. For example:

  • “I can’t use [insert social media] until after I finish my work for the day.”
  • “Every time I get paid, I will save this much of it.”
  • “I will only buy gas from XYZ Gas Station.”

Most of the time, these rules can be good for keeping ourselves accountable, especially when there’s no one else around to do so. I limit the times I can use social media so that I don’t waste my morning away reading the same three tweets over and over. I save money from every paycheck so I don’t randomly wind up broke someday. Rules help me keep my life together.

I also break my own rules, though.

Now when I say “breaking my own rules,” I don’t mean super serious stuff, like my ethical principles or the ideas that make up who I am as a person. If my rule is to only buy gas from XYZ station because they’re the only gasoline company that takes extra care to monitor their impact on the environment, then I probably won’t break that rule. But if that rule is only because XYZ has the lowest gas prices, but then ABC lowers their prices, I’ll probably break my own rule.

In other words, the rules I break are the small ones. Breaking them doesn’t mean betraying everything I believe in.

Except, well, sometimes it does feel like that.

Animated image of man being interviewed with text "I'm a world class screw up"

When I first started blogging, I set a rule for myself: Every week, I would have a blog post on a specified day at a specified time. That meant that before that day and time, I had to have written that post and prepared everything else that went along with it. This rule was good, because it kept me accountable with my blogging and gave me a deadline to work towards on a regular basis. (Let’s be honest: If I didn’t set deadlines, nothing would ever get done.)

But then there were a few times where I didn’t get that blog post written on time, and I hated myself for it. I felt like I was letting everyone (as in, my three followers) down; but most importantly, I was letting myself down. I consider myself a dependable person, and so one lapse in dependability felt like betrayal to myself.

If you think that sounds dramatic and ridiculous, you’re absolutely correct.

Animated image of man shouting with text "You're a drama queen!"

Look, there’s nothing wrong with dependability. Dependability is good. But sometimes, other things have to take priority in life – maybe I was working on a major school project, or I was celebrating a birthday with my family that week, and that set me behind. Placing those things above my blogging didn’t (and still doesn’t) make me any less reliable. It just means I had an “off week,” and I can work to plan better next time.

The good news is, once you start forgiving yourself for breaking the little rules, it gets less stressful. In case you didn’t notice, this blog post (and last week’s for that matter), went live a little later than usual. Instead of freaking out, I just ran with it. I’m writing this post at 3:24pm Eastern Time on Monday, March 18, 2019. It is nine hours later than I normally would post, let alone be writing the post.

Does that make me a bad blogger? Absolutely not.

I’m not saying you should go commit crimes or break the rules your school/workplace has established, because that’s still bad. Even if they’re stupid rules. You still have to follow them.

But if you’re like me and you can’t seem to stop yourself from getting upset when you bend or break your own rules, cut yourself some slack. Look at it this way: Would you get mad at someone you love if they accidentally bought the wrong brand of bottled water or something? Probably not. So don’t get mad at yourself either.

Animated image of boy looking at camera and saying "You're doing it wrong."
Getting mad at yourself for breaking your own rules? You’re doing it wrong.

What sorts of rules do you set for yourself? How do you react when you accidentally or purposely break them? Let’s talk in the comments below!

Until next time!

3 thoughts on “Breaking My Own Rules

  1. Another distinction is between the “letter” of the rule and the “spirit” of the rule. Your rule about blogging every week had the intention of obligating you to make regular entries, which would be a vast improvement over most other bloggers (including yours truly). The “letter” called for it to be weekly; but the “spirit” was for it to be regular and consistent. The “letter” can often be too restrictive and impractical so then you have to make a judgement call as to whether or not you’re still abiding by the “spirit” of the rule.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s what I’ve found a lot of times when setting rules or goals for myself. As long as I’m pursuing the idea/spirit behind the rule, I feel like I’m doing okay. Thanks for reading!

      Like

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