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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 79 ratings


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  • Brent

    This is the leadership rule I live by:

    When my team fails, I accept full responsibility!

    When my team succeeds, I give all the credit to the team!

    As a leader of teams of varying sizes over the past 20 years I have always practiced this rule and never varied from it. When sharing it with other leaders I found few would buy in. But my teams are always the best. They respond positively and excel when a philosophy like this is consistently applied. Especially when we face a mighty challenge!

    • Craig Ballantyne

      Brent, thank you, really appreciate your feedback. Well said.

    • Perry

      Did you steal that idea from me? lol I have also managed teams ranging in size from 2 to over 200 in the past 30 years and your philosophy is the same one I have always followed. And my teams are always the best also. Hopefully, more leaders will buy in.

  • Judy

    Wow, I loved the 12 rules, but what I LOVED MOST was the comment,
    What’s holding you back, NOT lack of knowledge. I also think I need to know more and more and always feel a lack of something I don’t know….then you went on to say it’s DECISION MAKING….how true. Things have been going better for me when I just plain take Action,,,,any action is better than none. So as I go along I am learning what I need as I need it…I LOVE EARLY to RISE. When it hits my email and stop and read it. so much of value. Thanks , I’m going to sit down schedule time for me to come up with my own rules, and READ and act on them daily.

  • Elaina

    Hi Craig I really enjoyed what you wrote! I also write fluently and it has been my passion for quite sometime. It is so awesome to meet people with such positive outlooks in a world where most can’t find their way. I am so in love with the passion to help others also! Thanks for the e-mail and I am continuing to read the rest of your material:) Elaina

    • Craig Ballantyne

      Thank you Elaina.

  • Dave


    Love your comment from 8/20 that everyone needs their own rules and not yours (or anyone else’s). One area (among several) I struggle with is looking outside myself to get answers/rules, etc. Thanks for the reminder that we have it within each of us.

    • Craig Ballantyne

      Thank you so much, Dave. Appreciate the feedback.

  • Ivan

    You are awesome and I can see you are on right track to change many lives,since you are a young guy I am sure you will acomplish your goal of changing million lives in your lifetime,great goal.You are full of wisdom for a
    man of your age,and even a 66 year “young” guy like me can learn a lot from
    you.And as my late friend and author of old time self help classic “A Touch of Greatness” 90 year “young” Frank Tibolt,once said: To be inspired is good thing,
    but just inspiration seldom start action,ACTION,and DOING things, always start inspiration.

    • Craig Ballantyne

      Thank you Ivan, greatly appreciated.

  • Larry

    I can’t put it in a better way!! I’m printing this out and drafting my personal philosophies right now.

  • William Veasley

    Hey Craig, it’s nice to meet you! The rules you live by are awesome man. I pretty much live by the same or similar rules except a couple maybe. Your first rule sounds like something my dad would tell me. I have been trying to work Sunday-thursday without more then a couple hours of sleep a day. I can go a couple days without sleep, but when I can’t focus anymore I take a nap. The last two days of the week I rest and try an recover for another week. Sometimes I just want to loose track of time.

    Best Wishes,
    William Veasley

    • Craig Ballantyne

      Thanks William, greatly appreciate the feedback.


  • Delia

    I am blown away by your article! My husband and I have had four long years of financial hardship because of the down real estate market and no matter what we do or try we cannot catch a break and we have assets that if they sold would put us on solid ground again. Literally, we are stuck. In reading your article we realize that there are people who actually care about others, you are one of them and it is wonderful to know that. We would be helping our family if they were in our situation,but our family who claims to “love” us, does not. It’s like saying to a man who is hungry, living in the street, “have a nice day”, knowing he is suffering. I don’t mean to evoke sympathy with saying all this, I am just complimenting you for your beliefs! It is admirable because you don’t pat yourself on the back, you just help. Want you to know that your article truly did “help” and I will implement a lot of what you said to help me forgive those who did not help me when I desperately need it and it gives me the courage to keep trying against the odds. We are trying new horizons to get financially solid again, we have always paid our bills and now find ourselves struggling and frustrated and on the verge of giving up. Thank you for inspiration, I guess I was supposed to read this and I’m glad I did.
    God bless!

    • Craig Ballantyne

      Thank you Della, stay strong and remain positive.


  • jamie flexman

    This is a very inspiring post. I personally find I get far more work done when I plan out my day beforehand, and I stick to it. Setting out rules for yourself, regardless of whether it involves a schedule or just a level of integrity that you live by, will really benefit every aspect of our lives.

  • nazanin

    thanks alot,mostly practical but some not’ like nothing matters’but thanks again.

  • Jack Peterson

    I use this to keep focused on what matters

  • Tayler

    Thank you so much for this free book and your introduction video. I just discovered your website (it was referred to me by someone I met this weekend at a financial seminar), and am glad I’ve taken the time to click on the link and review a few things from it.

    Although I haven’t read a lot here yet, what I found especially interesting so far is that several things you’ve mentioned or written remind me of the work I do as an addictions counselor at a long-term rehab facility. The residents I work with are learning, among other things, how to (i) accept responsibility for their actions; (ii) be grateful for what they have and who they are; and (3) set goals for their lives as sober productive members of society. I’m glad I found this site and I appreciate what you’re freely giving to others who drop by. Thank you!

  • Capt. Dave

    Follow your Passion NOT your Pension..Motivation is Still The Key..Without
    Action there is little or No Results. If you are NOT living on the Edge you
    are Taking up too Much room! Not everyone can change the World, BUT
    Every Person has been richly endowed by a Generous Creator, they can
    and do have te Pwer to change Themselves. Press on Craig!

  • mick wilde

    kindness is all you need

  • Olu

    Wonderful write up!This has help my self discovery.You know you need to discover before you can recover!The set of rules has really open my eyes to behold golden truth to propel my life achievements!Thank you and keep up the good work!Regards.

  • Terri Loveland

    Thank you so much for “putting yourself out there.” I love to think for myself but I also like having a model to get me started thinking. I will come up with my own rules and let you know at some point what I come up with.

  • Frank

    Great article Craig that is relatively simple to implement.
    I am one of the million that you are helping and for that I have nothing but gratitude for you and your staff. Your selfless sense of giving an enormity of wonderful content has taught me a great deal in a minimal amount of time. Although my daily rituals are not 100% complete, the time spent reading and writing before sun up has increased my productivity three fold.
    Equipped with the coordinates that Early To Rise outlines with vigor, my desire to give to others and accomplish future success is inevitable.


    • Craig Ballantyne

      Thank you Frank, happy to help!

  • Gabriela

    Thank you so much !!! I will implement my 12 rules. I realy need some motivation!!

  • biby

    tss….what a boring life.

  • sharon williams

    Thanx for sharing Craig. I agree with loosening ties with negative people, situations etc. I have had to do this with certain members of my family as it has caused me too much pain in the past. My philosophy on life… Keep it simple. Don’t take things to heart. Let your heart take you :))))) RIDE THE WAVE! And be happy!

  • Dominic DiBernardo

    I really appreciate you exposing your rules to the ETR community. They inspired me to formally ink my own life rules. It is certainly a great document to have handy. It really makes decision making easy.


  • kathleen kwan

    Dear Craig,

    Thanks for sharing your rules to live by. My top 12 rules are:
    1. Always surround myself with things who make me happy, content and positive. A pet photo, inspiring quotes and a good song will help!
    2. Steer clear of whiny, complaining and negative people. This is too easy because everyone usually will!
    3. Visit the sick in a nearby hospital. This always makes me grateful how healthy and strong I am.
    4. Visit the aged in a nearby nursing home. This always makes me remember to spend more time with my loved ones.
    5. Always remember I came into this world naked and will leave this world the same way. The legacy I leave behind is more important than things I buy.
    6. Visit a dog park or children playground. This always makes me remember how simple and fun everyday life should be.
    7. Learn a new thing under 30 minutes everyday – it can be a new kitchen recipe, a new song lyric, a new chapter in a book, a new phrase in a foreign language, a new exercise routine – anything!
    8. Visit a place I have not been in my own city – I am always surprised by how many neighborhoods I have not been to!
    9. Text a simple hello everyday to at least 1 friend I have not seen for a while.
    10. Always have the courage to say no to anyone or anything even when everyone around me says yes.
    11. If I fail, it just means I discovered another aspect of myself which I was not aware of before. The more I learn my strengths and weaknesses, the closer I am to my goals.
    12. Keep company with people who care and are passionate about what they do. People who care will always do the right thing.

    • Paul Simon

      Love your rules as well as Craig’s, Kathleen. Pursuing these admirable guideliness is contagious, right?

  • Ashley

    I loved this post! I follow similar guidelines for my own life! One thing I am looking into at the moment is finding a business coach, but I am not really sure on what specific things to look for in a coach. Do you have any tips or do you know of any that you recommend? I live in the Tampa Bay area and have been looking for one for quite a while. Thanks for the posts and the motivation you share with us all!

    • Craig Ballantyne

      I don’t know of any business coaches in person in Tampa, sorry. But you should join the ETR Virtual Mastermind. It’s better than any business coach you’ll find. Thanks!

  • Nyada

    Iv’e noticed you’ve answered to many comments above, and it would be an honour to me if you respond to my feedback too.
    First of all, I am a fourteen year old who is in love with this site. I recently discovered this site the day before yesterday. I was just wondering if it was normal if people talked to themselves, i personally talk to myself almost 3/4th of my day. I decided to google about how many people actually speak to themselves and if this was normal, then somehow i landed on this site and read the article by Sir Harvey Mackey, ‘People Who Talk To Themselves Have A Captive Audience’, that really helped me understand why i talk to myself.
    This is the second article that i’ve read, and i loved it, it is very inspirational and i will try to set up rules for myself and with full confidence i’m sure that i’ll be living a way better life than i am right now.

    P.s: I love the way you write.

    Looking forward to your reply :)
    thank you!

  • Craig Ballantyne

    Hi Nyada,

    Can you resubmit your question. I don’t see it. Thanks!

    • Nyada

      yay! you wrote back.! :D
      I had no qn, all i wanted is that you write back to me.
      I know i said ‘looking forward to your reply’ at the end that probably means that i had a qn, my apologies, i meant ‘looking forward to your response’ (or something like that) :P
      Basically, i just wanted you to know that I really like what your doing by writting articles and helping people improve their lives.

      You are someone that i take inspirations from, by the way i read another article written by you, ’7 steps to success’, every article of yours makes me fall in love deeper with your writting :)
      Sorry if i wasted your time :(

  • Jason

    Nice list. I like 2,4 & 9. The rest are good too but these ones stick out a little more. Thank you for sharing and good luck with number 9.

  • Jason

    Your video says you are going to help 1million people and your written list says 10 million people. Which is it?

    • Craig Ballantyne

      I’ve upgraded my goal to 10 million! Thanks Jason!

  • Melissa Tinker

    Inspiring Craig. Had to revisit and watch again!

    • Craig Ballantyne

      Thank you!


    Its GREAT CRAIG!!! I am a regular viewer of Early To Rise posts. Today, I just find this great post when I am simply browising through my mail and its links. Its really an INSPIRATIONAL and MOTIVATIONAL post. Though I am following some of my own rules, your post today has inspired me to SET MY OWN RULES FOR MY LIFE.
    Thank YOU… CRAIG..

    • Craig Ballantyne


  • Joost van der Laan

    Thanks for your post. Your rules 4 and 6 not only made me think hard about my sometimes confrontational behavior (when I am right!), but also about my business approach. I started to publish favorable marketing letters about services of prospects, instead of sending aquisition mailings referring to shortcomings in their Internet Marketing. It is nice work and the response is fantastic. Not only from my prospects I write about but also from competing businesses, suppliers and clients. So your Life Rules inspired me to find a new? business model. Thanks again. Joost van der Laan, Netherlands.

    • Craig Ballantyne

      great to hear!

  • kodemore

    nice and very inspiring. just a little technical note on your youtube videos, volume is a bit low on speakers, try to boost all your videos up at least 1.5 db. keep it up

  • Jaime

    Very interesting, inspiring but not so easy to follow, However if you stick to your rules, every following day will be easier to make it the philosophy of your life. Thanks for sahring that with everybody.

  • Andy Murphy

    I cannot understand on what basis anyone would take offense with what you’ve shared. This is an example worthy of consideration. You rightly imply that we are the authority in our lives who are capable of making such decisions to guide ourselves. Granted, we may have to craft some of those decisions to accommodate the reality that we have, for the most part, chosen for ourselves (if not physically, at least mentally – in terms of the meaning and significance with which we decide by default or design to imbue it).

    • Craig Ballantyne

      Thank you Andy!

  • Carol

    Wait a minute are you a fitness guru or??? I’m confused i get double doses of your emails daily for different things?

    • Craig Ballantyne
    • Scott

      Carol he’s an everything guru – he’s one of those few people who will get up every single day and take action on things that will benefit other people. I’d stay on every list of his you’re on. If you do, and take action on what he talks about, you’ll end up a person of greater happiness, health, wealth, and consequence in this world. Trust me – don’t try and put him in just one category.

      • Craig Ballantyne

        Thank you Scott!

        And yes, it’s all about taking ACTION!

        Keep on pushing,

        Craig Ballantyne

  • Elizabeth Petersen

    Thank you, Craig. I have been struggling with a bit oif a crazed menopausal brain, and I am causing emotional harm to my loved ones. I think writing out my own Rules to Live By and reading them every day, in addition to getting back to a fitness routine, will go a long way to helping me through this time in my life. I greatly appreciate your work.

    • Craig Ballantyne

      Thank you!

    • Colin

      Yes Liz…the fitness is very important. Find something that you like/love. Communication about your menopausal situation and lots of humility will go a long way.

      Best wishes


  • Windward Islands Business Supp

    Thank you Craig for this advice, I have been struggling with this. I say yes to easily and then worry that I cannot fullfill my promises. And especially I get all stressed out when I cannot fininshed the project putting unnecessary enormous stress on myself. Many many thanks again. I love your articles, always very helpful and a total blessings.

    • Craig Ballantyne

      Happy to help, thank you.

    • ttcert

      Thank you!

  • Colin


    I hope you don’t stick to those rules too rigidly or you’ll remain a single guy forever (8pm bedtime!)…LOL. Nice reminder though on the need to think about values and what is important.

  • Yulia

    Thank you for sharing this video. I liked it very much. But I didn’t understand two points. 1. Why do you quote Ted Nicholas but don’t quote Solomon? 2. How do you celebrate Christmas, New Year, birthdays of friends going to bed at 8? Or you make exceptions? Thanks!

    • ttcert

      Yulia – 1) Not sure, sorry. 2) You don’t have to stay up past 8 to celebrate anything, but yes, I do make exceptions. Sticking to the wake-up is more important.

  • Irene

    Thanks for this video. It is always a pleasure reading your posts as they motivate me into action as I am the greatest procrastinator. It is now 2:00 pm and my day is becoming non productive – for all the reasons you stated, addiction to the web first thing in the morning, cannot say “no” to people who seem to repeat their requests, phone calls interrupting my trend of thought, setting limits and most of all knowing how to focus on my goals. I am now working on my “Not To Do” list which is the greatest idea I’ve come across.

    Thanks Craig for your continued inspiration.

    • ttcert

      You can improve, you can change! Keep on pushing, Irene. Make small improvements every day.

  • ttcert

    Wonderful rules, stay strong!

  • Melissa Tinker

    Every now and then I go back and read your 12 Rules again. It always inspires me to be better! Thank you Craig!

    • ttcert

      Wonderful, thank you Melissa!

  • Chip Walsh

    Powerful stuff! Thank you.

    • ttcert

      Yes, thank you!

  • Renee

    Your 12 Rules is inspiring. My number one rule is to “not complain.” About anything. Period. Number 2 is zero-tolerance to negativity of any shape or form; any kind of negativity is just not allowed in my life. I truly believe these two things have lifted me to my higher self.

    • ttcert

      Awesome Renee. Complaining is one I struggle with, but if I can conquer swearing, I can beat complaining, too. Thanks for the inspiration. Keep up the great work!

  • Susan Lucy

    Thank you – you inspire me daily!

    • ttcert

      Thank you Susan!

  • Joanette D. Clemons

    This is an awesome article and the rules are not only selfless, but they are are focused on selfless actions and accomplishments. They are indeed thought provoking and spiritual. Great article.

    • ttcert

      Thanks Joanette, that is very kind of you.

  • Lanre Lawanson

    Thank you for the inspiration Craig. I read this post a few years back,still struggle a bit,do to inconsistency,but blame no one but myself,no excuse. Time for tiny small changes in my character. Thanks again.

    • ttcert

      Keep on pushing on, Lanre! Small changes every day!

  • Ascension

    To me, it is much simpler, is this worth my life or death? Rarely, if ever, anything is worth either of those. I laugh when I see people pride themselves on not “dealing” with some fill in the blank thing or tolerating some fill in the blank thing or “can’t deal with” fill in the blank thing. We have been blessed with great gifts, perfect gifts, that we either practice and master or withhold them or let them decay. We will work our way to a great life, or we will accept that we can make every day great and build a great life.