Set the Rules of the Game So You Can Win

By Ryan Fleming, Director – Habitational Group

When it comes to playing any sport or game, there are rules. Often it’s those who know the rules best who come out on top. A clear understanding of what specifically needs to be done at what particular time is pivotal to finding the winning points, yards, or position for victory. There are boundaries, penalties, and—most importantly—other players that we have to contend with, the latter being the most important to understand. So how’s this any different from home or work? I propose that it isn’t at all.

At home, we are a blended family and are blessed with five kids ranging from 12 to 17 years old. The sports we are involved in are lacrosse, wrestling, motorcycle racing, basketball, and dance. (Let me put an emphasis on dance for any of you dance parents!) Oh, and jobs, they are all starting to get jobs, which is great and all if they could drive themselves.

Our kids, just like any others, aren’t the best at planning or informing us of the plan, for that matter. We often find ourselves scrambling to get someone somewhere across town at the last minute while also figuring out how to feed them on the go. It wasn’t until we took the time and devoted the attention to setting rules and boundaries in our home that we finally started to win the game.

For example, we utilize a cloud-based family calendar encompassing all activities. If it’s not on the calendar, it isn’t happening. We also have a weekly menu that is created every Sunday that allows us to shop for groceries online and have them delivered Monday morning for the week. Another thing that has helped us win this game is the Amazon Dash buttons. Inside almost every cabinet in the house is a dash button that, when pressed, orders whatever is needed in that cabinet for delivery the next day. Talk about a time-saver. No more wandering around Target buying more than you need and waiting in lines to pay. Setting the rules of our household has allowed us to win and win big. We are basically on autopilot with very few surprises.

Work is tough. Things get thrown on your desk unexpectedly with deadlines you struggle to meet. People barge in with agendas that need addressing even though they aren’t yours. Our days often get away from us before we even get started. We wake up with a plan, but somehow that plan flies out the window the second we open our email. Working just for the sake of working isn’t productive, yet, that’s how our days are filled. We leave the day with a tired mind and sometimes tired body, but we are unclear of what was actually accomplished.

It’s time to set the rules of the game in order to win each day. You have the ability to set those rules:

Take time for yourself in the morning to get into your best state. If that means a workout, cold plunge, or simply coffee and reflection, make sure you never waver with this part of your day.

Set up times during your day for email responses or returning phone calls. They will always keep coming and everyone will always expect a response in their timeframe unless you set a different expectation. Without setting parameters, the constant influx of emails and calls will surely exhaust you.

Meetings need agendas and hard stops. More will get accomplished if the agenda is clear to all parties and the timer starts counting down.

Ultimately, life will come at you from all directions at all times. It’s easy for things to overwhelm us, but we absolutely can win. We just need to clearly define the rules. To be effective employees, managers, fathers, and mothers, we need to design how we intend to play the game of life. Get clear on what you want and how you want to get there and start designing. It may seem like an arduous task, but separating your life into different areas will allow you to tackle each section. Good luck! Go TEAM!