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Two Simple But Underused Rules for Progress in Anything

My family just got a new puppy. An adorable, little—for now, anyways—German Shepherd. Sleep hasn’t been great. Ananda needs to go out at least once in the middle of night, and sometimes more. This is the first time since my son was an infant, a few years back now, that I’ve gone to bed knowing it won’t be a restful night. I’m not thrilled about it, but it has served as a good reminder about my two rules of sleep:

  1. Get sleep—at least 7 hours and ideally a few more. It’s the most important thing there is for mental and physical health and performance.
  2. If you aren’t getting sleep, don’t freak out about it. Freaking about not sleeping, especially when you do it in the middle of the night, is the only thing worse than not sleeping.

Reflecting on these rules, I’ve realized that they don’t just apply to sleep, but to pretty much everything you want to do in life, whether it’s eating better, working out, reading more, not interrupting others during meetings, and so on. The first rule is to do the thing. The second rule is not to completely lose it and beat yourself up if for some reason you don’t do the thing. Without rule two you are much more liable to burnout or completely fall off the bandwagon after inevitable failures. Without rule one you won’t get anywhere to begin with.

Progress is about marrying strong self-discipline with strong self-compassion. Stay on the path. Fall off the path. Get back on the path. It’s as simple and as hard as that.

— Brad

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