Early to rise

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The one thing I admire about people who have strong nutrition beliefs is their dogmatic behavior.

For example, a vegetarian, under no circumstances, will ever eat meat. There is no, “well, everyone else is having a burger, so just this once, I will too.”

That’s not how it works.

Not when a vegetarian has a strong personal philosophy that they never, ever, ever eat meat.

And that strong personal philosophy guides them to guilt-free behavior that is congruent with their goals.

I’ve also taught my fat loss clients to develop their own personal philosophy – essentially a set of rules that dictate decisions, and I’ve also created my own rules that determine how I live my life so that I reduce guilt, stress, and wasted emotional energy.

Now the purpose of this email is not to say that my personal philosophies are wrong or right.

Instead, they are simply here to encourage you to adopt your own rules for the sake of living a better, more productive stress free life. 
You may have your own rules in your head, but I encourage you to put them in writing. And you can adopt a set of rules for every aspect of your life, from health to financial to family and business.



(NOTE: My rules have changed – slightly – since I first wrote them. Here is my updated approach to life.)

My 12 Rules

  1. I go to bed and get up at the same time 7 days per week (8 p.m. and 4 a.m.) I stick to my diet, avoid caffeine after 1 p.m., and avoid alcohol within 3 hours of bedtime.
  2. I write for at least 60 minutes first thing every morning.
  3. I do not check email before 11 a.m. and I do not talk on the phone unless it is a scheduled interview or conference call.
  4. I act polite and courteous, and I do not swear.
  5. I create a to-do list at the start & end of every workday and update my daily gratitude & achievement journal.
  6. I do not engage in confrontations with anyone, in-person or online. This is a waste of time and energy. If I have caused harm, I apologize and fix the situation. And then I take a deep breath, relax, breathe out, and re-focus my efforts back on my work and goals.
  7. I am guided by these two phrases:
    a) “Nothing matters.” – I can only work towards the major, massive goals and my vision of helping others, while the opinions of others do not matter to my goals.
    b) “It will all be over soon.”
  8.  Everything that happens to me – good and bad – is my personal responsibility. I blame no one but myself. These are the choices I’ve made – this is the life I’m living. I will accept the consequences of my actions.
  9. I will help 10 Million men and women transform their lives.
  10. I will not be the person I don’t want to be. I will not be petty, jealous, or envious, or give in to any other of those lazy emotions. I will not gossip or speak badly of others, no matter who I am with or what environment that I am in. I will not be negative when it is easier to be positive. I will not hurt others when it is possible to help. I will know the temptations, situations and environments in life that I must avoid, and I will, in fact, avoid them, even if it means loosening relationships with others who “live” in those environments. It’s my life and that matters more than what other people think of me.
  11. “I will always keep the child within me alive.” – Ted Nicholas.
  12. “I will write with honesty and feeling.” – Ted Nicholas. The opinion of others does not matter. What matters is the number of people that I can help by sharing advice and encouragement in my writing.

So that’s it. These 12 rules allow me to live my life with less guilt, more energy, and more productivity than if I did not have these personal philosophies outlined.

Now I know there will be two types of reactions to this content. First, some will dismiss it – and dismiss me.

But to those people, remember the point of the list is not for you to sit there and think, “Oh, what a total weirdo. I never want to hang around with this guy.”

Instead, the point of the list, the idea, the article is to simply stimulate your thinking.

And that’s the 2nd type of reaction you can have to this article.

This is the reaction of the people who I’m interested in – the people who will realize what’s holding them back is not a lack of knowledge (because the knowledge is out there and freely available), but instead, it is decision making.

Listen, I know that every week you make decisions that leave you full of guilt and remorse, but on the other hand you also make decisions that you know are correct – even though they are difficult to make.

Wouldn’t you be better off if you made MORE correct decisions with less effort?

Of course, and that is where you rules to live by, your personal philosophies, come into play.

With this post, I’ve given you a model so that you can create your own personal philosophies that will allow you to make the correct decision and fewer decisions that leave you with remorse.

As a result of making more correct decisions, you’ll move closer to your goals and suffer less frustration. Life will be simpler once you start adhering to your own personal philosophies – and not worrying about what others think.

I’d like to hear your personal philosophies and life rules. Just add your thoughts to the comments section below.

The 12 Rules I Live By (What are yours), 4.3 out of 5 based on 92 ratings


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  • Patricia Davies

    Good morning, first I want to say thank you for sharing!!!
    Well I do go to bed and get up the same time everyday, I work out 6 days a week( using your work outs, again thank you!)
    I’m learning to be more consistent in writing in my gratitude journal. Working on discovering and strengthening my purpose here! Lol, not sure what it is.
    I’m passionate about music, fitness, traveling. Lol,now to fine tune one at a time!
    I’m a work in progress everyday and am grateful that I am finding people, like yourself for guidance and support.
    I love your 12 and will use most of them to better guide myself.

  • bluidevil

    While I enjoy reading how others may conduct a structured life as shown; it
    may be ‘new school’ only. Having 40+ years of travel,meetings,sales calls, you could never do 1/2 of that listed and be effective. Nights at the bar,jokes both clean and not so,long hours, telephone calls at all hours and going out of your way and catering to clients would never permit puritanical ways.
    Ditto, for a house full of kids and every day happenings. Life is to be lived not hide from, it makes one far more experienced and understanding .
    Maybe I’m a fossil, but it was the corporate world I thrived in .

    • ttcert

      My rules are NOT your rules. You make your own. You live your life your way.

      • bluidevil

        No problem, these rules just didn’t apply 40+
        years ago. do as you please youngster.

      • ttcert

        I’m still not explaining myself properly. I apologize. It is not the specific rules to focus on, but the idea of creating rules for our life. Yes, they will change from generation to generation and from person to person. But regardless of the situation, we don’t make excuses, we make the right rules for our lives.

      • bluidevil

        Understand fully, came up thru very ‘old school rules” 5 kids, long nights, having to play with the big boys and run hard weekends included. My mentors were all WWII vets and older, as well as clients. Anyway stayed extremely fit,raised kids,made friends learned all about people ,pros & cons. As earlier posted we fossils earned our stripes by playing with the rules that were accepted at the time.
        Good luck, it’s a tough business world to prosper 42 years in and still stay competitive and liked as of this writing.

  • Gerardo Ramos

    Thank you for sharing. Made my own list based on yours. Got 11 Rules only. Starting to live them today, July 1st. Greetings from Guadalajara, Mexico

    • ttcert

      Great to hear!

  • Gerardo Ramos

    Craig, I would like to share you BY EMAIL TO YOU the challenges I got starting the following day I wrote my 12 rules (there are 12 now) and what I have learned after a week of applying them.

  • Laura L. Smith

    I live by similar rules and find my life is quite peaceful and balanced plus I don’t attract or allow negative people within my realm. I also can attest to the fact that sticking to a diet works as I am still thin and have no health issues. I also have a strong faith in allowing my angels to help me achieve my goals–works beautifully.

    • ttcert

      Thank you Laura, great feedback!

    • cara


  • Dan

    Hi Craig,

    Love your work. I’m just wondering how did you come to having just 12 rules? I’ve been working on my own rules and I’ve nearly 30, which I feel is a bit excessive. Can you offer any advice on how I can reduce the number of rules? Should I have 1 definitive major rule for each area of my life or for each of my goals?

    Thanks in advance for your response.

    • ttcert

      I would check for redundancies. There is likely a lot of overlap. I can’t remember how I came up with exactly 12. Sorry!

  • BridgetJane

    Hi Craig :)
    Just curious…I read an article just a sec ago that said you eat dinner late, 8-9pm, but here you say you go to bed at 8pm..? So Im curious….8pm seems very early and very dedicated. I too love being up at 4 am but also like to stay up until 10pm… Anywho! Just an observation and curiosity :) Thank you

    • ttcert

      I no longer eat the late dinner. I’m done now by 6pm to meet the 8pm bedtime. Much better off this way!

  • Christine

    Great idea, I came up with 16 personal philosophies.

    • http://www.ttfatloss.com ttcert

      Well done!

  • Susana G


  • Mimi

    See rule 6 & 7! And join Alanon (or similar organizations) for support and practical guidelines

  • http://www.PushFitnessFTL.com/ Peter Jackson

    I believe Craig Ballantyne is brilliant. I’ve been reading his blogs for two years and have benefited so much by incorporating his advice into my life. His self-discipline is admirable and he’s absolutely correct about the importance of having guiding principles in order to live a richer, less stressful life. I’m not one who praises gratuitously, but I have to say Craig is right up there with Covey (but as yet not nearly as recognized) as one of the outstanding thinkers and information marketers of today.

  • Chief K

    Great idea

    • http://www.ttfatloss.com ttcert

      Thank you!

  • Vincent

    That is really good advice. I think I save about 2 hours everyday and put that 2 hours into good use.

    • http://www.ttfatloss.com ttcert

      Nice work, Vincent!

  • Ashish

    Thank you for your opinions and insights. Really helpful