The 12 Rules I Live By

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.

These are the 12 rules I live by.

1- I go to bed and get up at the same time 7 days per week (9pm and 5am.) I do not deviate from this schedule unless it is due to an important (and this word is not used lightly) work or social function.  I stick to a diet of whole, natural foods, avoid caffeine after 1pm, 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 9am.

4- I do not talk on the phone unless it is a schedule interview or conference call.

5- I create a to-do list at the end of every workday and I follow that to-do list starting first thing the next morning. I also perform my daily readings at the end of every workday, and I write in a gratitude journal.

I am thankful everyday for identifying my mission and what I wanted to do with my life at such a young age.

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.

However, if someone simply doesn’t like something I have done or something that I do or disagrees with me, that is fine, but I’m not going to get into an argument about it.

For any confrontation-like situation, I simply 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.” – By this, I mean that arguing on the internet changes nothing…I can only work towards the major, massive goals that I have set for my life…that I have a vision of helping others, and there is no time to let petty arguments stand in the way.

None of those arguments – or the opinions of others – matter.

It will all be over soon.” – This servers me in both good times and in bad.

In hard times, such as bad days, troubled times, or intense physical effort or discomfort, I know that it will all be over soon. A small amount of suffering now will be forgotten later when I will enjoy the rewards of my work.

And in good times, I will remember that life is short, and I must make things count now, and no matter how good things are going I must never let myself become soft and lazy, because I have too much to accomplish in such a short time.

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 not stop until I have helped 1 Million men and women transformed their lives – physically, financially, or emotionally.

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.” – Frank McKinney.
I will laugh everyday. That’s not hard when you have the friends – and dog – that I have. And if they don’t make me laugh, there’s plenty of Louis CK on Netflix. NOTE: This also explains the bedtime.

12- “I will write with honesty and feeling.” – Ted Nicholas.

I’ve long since giving up caring about how others choose to judge me. What matters more than other’s opinions is the number of people that I can help by sharing advice and encouragement in my writing.

The most powerful songs are often written by the songwriters who bare their soul. So screw it, let’s do it. Let’s put it all out there.

I’m not going to help as many people as I could if I keep the “real info” to myself. I also understand now, better than ever, that sometimes you have to “write to repel” in order to strongly attract the readers you desire.

So that’s it. The 12 rules that 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 list, the idea, the article, it’s all 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 that 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 more of the correct decisions and fewer of the ones 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.

With honesty and feeling,

Craig Ballantyne

“The surest way to accomplish your business goals is making service to others your primary goal. The key to success is adding value to other’s lives.” – Kekich Credo #87

  • You continue to inspire me Craig. Those 12 rules seem to be quite similar to my own way of living. Thanks man 🙂

  • Craig, I love your overall list theme, which as I see it, is one of self-improvement and improving others. Each of the above 12 items is powerful on its own, but the combo is providing you a great journey.

    I used to struggle with avoiding confrontation, which turned into holding grudges, but within the last year I learned a little mental trick that has helped me immensely. Before I start each crucial confrontation/conversation I tell myself that I want whats best for the invidual I am arguing with. It has worked so well that I now even verbally state it before we start talking. I have even used it in disciplinary meetings with my staff. It may seem cheesy, but it really works on changing the nonverbal dynamics of a discussion.

    Continued luck on your 1 million lives changed goal…I am going to be one of them!


    • intind

      Thanks Richard,


  • These are definitely rules that resonate a lot with me. I liked all the rules but 6,7,8 and 9 are awesome.

  • Rick Mulready

    Another great post, Craig. This really resonated with me. I will be creating my own list now. Thanks for sharing!

  • elad oren

    Thanks Craig. This post really inspired me.

  • I have to say that is an impressive list.

    You have a few big ones up there that can make a world of difference. #6 is a good one to live by. No matter what you do there will be people that don’t like you or what you have done. No need to fight it. It is a waste of your energy. This is hard to do though as your ego often gets in the way.

    #8 is a tough pill to swallow. It is true but so easy to blame something other then ourselves. This goes back to your post about not getting the results you think you deserve.

  • And … I’m inspired. Thank you Craig.

    I love connecting with people like you. If I can’t be friends with you in person, I’ve found reading material from individuals like you who don’t conform to be a great way for you to rub off on me.

    Thank you for being yourself.

  • Joe Weaver

    Inspiring to see someone lay it all out there!
    Thanks for the vision and courage with which you express it.

  • Dan

    I’ve tried on and off to live by several of the points on your list, but I have never written them down and really commited to them. The points on your list that I feel would make the biggest difference in my life in terms of productivity and freeing up time would be 1-3 and 5. Possibly expanding #3 to include only checking email twice a day. My goal has been to get up at 6am and go to bed at 22pm, and I’m currently doing the 6am part, but that doesn’t rhyme well with going to bed at 24pm. Your body can only handle so many days of sleep deprivation, so I really need to prioritize my sleep.

    Can you share an example of your daily readings? Would be interesting to know what a successful guy like you are reading.

  • This is exactly what i needed to read today.
    I guess i needed to be reassured of my own beliefs which are almost identical to what you have written.
    I also avoid all confrontation – I have realized it is a waste of time. To quote Brian Tracy “We are not in the convincing business”

    I also have a health site that completely goes against the grain of traditional weight loss/dieting, etc advice. If you are interested it is

    People love this or hate it – because I am totally against diets (I have to pause here because I feel a desire to explain and rationalize, and remember the quote “Never explain yourself. Your friends don’t need it and your enemies wont believe it”)
    I get a lot of criticism for my approach, but I stick to my guns because it has worked for me for almost half a decade and for countless others that I have helped through eating disorders.

    I have also noticed that I am attracting a lot of people who do not believe in themselves and so last night I set out an intention to attract those that do – and today I read this.

    I also have “This Too Shall Pass” tattooed on my arm, where I can clearly see it and that gets everything back into perspective for me.

    Another BIG struggle was “I will know the temptations, situations and environments in life that I must avoid, and I will, in fact, avoid them,” – HUGE one for me. Almost fell into the trap twice only recently and without ever reading what you wrote, Craig, I instinctively knew it and Cancelled/Avoided.

    And finally, when dealing with things/people/situations that are troubling, a wise man taught me to just say…”So what”

    Thanks Craig. You are a huge inspiration to me.


  • I think the rules you live by are good common sense on how to be a nice ethical person. I also liked and don’t let people do to me is create flame wars in forums on the net etc. all it does is feed into the other persons negativity, which accomplishes nothing.

  • Craig I’ve been reading your emails and blog posts for about 5+ years and this is easily one of the best (IMHO) posts you’ve ever written. Like a lot of comments on this blog several points resonated with me. I’m going to copy, convert this to a PDF and hang it where I can see it daily. Thank you again.



    ps. I’ll also make my own rules 🙂

    • intind

      Cool Jesse, appreciate the feedback.


  • keith

    Craig I really appreciate reading your posts everyday. keith

  • Hi There,

    Seems to work for you but what happens when you have a social function do you leave a party at 8:30 to get home by 9:00? 🙂

  • Austen

    I have always been a fan of yours Craig, but the learning that you are a Louis CK fan makes me respect you that much more. Great article brother.

    • intind

      Ha, nice Austen, thanks.

  • Mariko

    Awesome post. Very inspirational, thanks heaps. xxx

  • Natalie

    Thanks Craig, I needed to read this. It resonated deeply……

  • Great rules that help fulfil our “genetic” Potential! Thank you Craig!

  • yarnball

    Craig, just want you to know that you have made a difference in my life! I also agree this is one of your very best and what a wonderful opportunity for all of us to learn and grow in our own lives.

    When I first started focusing on losing weight & eating right, I made a few rules for myself:

    No pop. Period. Over. None. Nada.
    Use the restroom on the next floor up or down. (movement)
    At every red light, do mini crunches.
    No fast food for any reason.

    These rules helped me make really good decisions at a difficult time. I actually got out of line at a McDonald’s once because I didn’t want to disappoint myself!

    Thanks for all you do. Have a fab day!

    • intind

      Thanks so much for your feedback, congrats on being so committed. Impressive stuff.


  • Mike Tenbeth

    Thank you very much Craig. You are an inspiration and a guiding light.

  • Rick

    Oooohhh …. some good ones in there CB! I will have to clip a few of your gems so I can get on track and stay focused a bit more. Really like writing before viewing the email. Sounds simple, but we are programmed in the Internet Age.

    Before computers it was easy to knock out 4 hours of writing without missing a beat. Now I don’t know how to handle the silence; I need the news in the background or a stop and check for emails. Our time is fleeting instead of having solid production.

    No arguments .. ouch. That’s a tough one, but I see your point and maybe I should give it a try.

    Good fodder.

  • Excellent post.

    Do you find it difficult to follow these rules 100% of the time? What happens when you slip up? Also, how long do you estimate it took you to build these habits?

    I’m just curious.


    • intind

      Sure, its not easy…and it takes years to build some of these habits. Others are quicker.

  • Thanks so much Craig, my life has changed because of coaches like you!

    • intind

      Happy to help Gary.

  • great article…living the dharma…i think the way we live our life is our most powerful message…the power is in the practice not the preach…we can verbalize until we are blue in the face about how to live…but most people listen to what they see…Craig it is great that you allow people to see how you live your life…

    • intind

      Happy to help, thanks.


  • Andrew

    I have never commented before, but you are one of the few trainers whose subscriptions I follow. And after reading this article, I just had to leave a comment. I guess one of my philosophies is that I must VOICE my gratitude. I have been following your subscriptions not just for the fitness&exercise advice (which are great and aren’t just generic like many others), but also for the kind of beliefs and lifestyle you have and pursue that I could glean from your daily articles. And this one just moved me to leave a comment lol. To me, you really exemplify the good PT (truly caring not just about people’s bodily transformations but the people themselves and driven by the desire to help others) Anyways, thanks a lot and keep up the good work! -Andrew

    • intind

      Thanks Andrew, that is really nice of you to say that.


  • Great insight Craig

    I like 1-5. That’s a really good system to guarantee you get sh#t done.
    I wholeheartedly agree with the confrontation thing.

    Are these long term rules or do you review them?


    • intind

      Good question. They are the current rules…I don’t expect them to change much. Probably add some as time goes by.

  • Stephen

    Very Cool…you have a lot of discipline

  • jerry jeter

    …honest…powerful…inspiring…well said…..amen!!

    wish i knew you… will have to do!!

    peace & regards to “bally the dog”

  • Thank you for sharing that. Re: “it’ll be over soon”. Bask in the moment and the glory, but don’t let it define you. That’s how people live in the past.

  • Rich

    You are awesome and truly inspiring. Great wisdom in your 12 lifestyle rules. I share your goal, and wish you well on the journey to empower others!

  • Connor


    I really like this list! I found it by searching on Google “should I live my life for myself or others.” Right now I’m in college thinking of what I want to do with my life, and I’m having a really hard time deciding if I want to work toward personal, perhaps selfish happiness or if I want to try and make huge, positive differences in the lives of others. I really don’t know if I can do both!

    I have one question about number 6, “I do not engage in confrontations with anyone, in-person or online. This is a waste of time and energy.”

    I understand a lot of arguments we have in our lives just add to our misery, but I’ve learned a lot from the arguments I’ve had with people, particularly over politics, philosophy, stuff like that. I get into debates with people about things often, both on the internet and in real-life discussion, and I feel that even though it’s stressful, it can be productive.

    On the other hand, I don’t really enjoy doing it, and it can really get me down when I don’t have a good answer to something … It makes me question everything I’m doing depending on what the subject is. I almost feel obligated to participate, though, in order to make myself learn and to practice open-mindedness.

    Do you avoid any and all confrontation, or do you feel there are necessary discussions to be had?


    • intind

      Hey Connor,

      Great question.

      Everything is on a continuum.

      There are definitely constructive business discussions that I have every day…but when someone attacks me or my ideas, that’s it…I move on.

      You just have to decide what is worth the fight.


  • “Everything is amazing and nobody’s happy” – Louis CK The answer Craig………… “Acting!”

  • Jon

    There is a few things that this website and many others like it have in common. They all look like scams. Some have pop ups asking you to “sign up” to get something for free! Even the replies here are like that and of course this is being used as a portal to promote their business. And mostly, they all have excellent ethical, moral or healthy sounding reasons for doing so, full of empathy and talk about helping yourself and others.

    There’s no doubt that your 12 rules will resonate with almost everyone, after all, who could argue otherwise. But i always think that essentially, if anyone really wants to “help” anyone else, they would do it for free.

    I hope you can see where i am coming from, I’m not attacking you, just saying that’s how i see these websites, and yes, i have had experience of individuals losing money had over fist with these sorts of things. Those are the people i help.

  • Greg G


  • One of the most motivational and inspiring posts I have ever read. I absolutely love reading through these rules as it gets me fired up to take life by the horns and make things happen! It’s all about taking it one day at a time. Whenever I try and start something new, I get overwhelmed by thinking too far into the future. So instead, I just try to make TODAY my masterpiece setting myself up for a better future. Great post Craig.

  • My favorite is #6!

    You’ll see people that have spent their entire day arguing with others as to why their position is correct on a variety of controversial topics and ultimately doing nothing productive with their day, other than placing unnecessary emotional strain on themselves.

    I have been that person, but have also made it a “rule” to stay away from those situations. My life has been less stressful and more productive because of it.

  • I can’t believe this post is about a year old. Wow, time flies. This has resonated with me since the day I read it. It certainly does make decisions much easier. Although I haven’t created a list as extensive as this, I have followed a few rules that have helped me continue with success… one of those being not responding to any emails until I have worked on a big project or contacted my readers.

    Thanks for the reminder,

  • Great stuff Craig. I have similar rules that I live by. Its great to see I’m not the only “weirdo” 🙂

  • Thanks for these 12 things. I am currently doing about 5 of them. Some of the 12 do not pertain to my business, but I can see how I can change them to fit. The to-do list the night before it one of the best ideas I implemented about 4 years ago.

    Too often I would arrive at work and then figure out what I had to do. Instead now I follow the to-do list and keeps me focused on items important to my business

  • I love the list. I have personally found that by creating a firm to do list, getting into a habit of completing the list and ignoring the unimportant, that my productivity and success has gone up tremendously.

    #9 is by far the most important. Without having a definite aim to work toward, the rest of the work is much less effective. I just recently found this out for myself. This is true whether you are in school, at a job, or starting your own business.

    Thanks for the motivation and a look into your personal rules

  • Derek

    hey Craig,

    Awesome post! As usual filled with insights and makes me take a look at myself through amore realistic lens. I appreciate everything you do for all of us. I have been a fans for a couple of years and am now part of your ETR Virtual MM group and am learning a lot.


    Derek Shannon

  • Troy Ketter


    I remember this article form June 2011 quite well. Partially because I copied it to a Word doc and saved to my desktop. Your exactly the type of person I like to surround myself with. Thank you.

  • Peter

    Wow- yes I read this about a year ago and I was inspired but did very little about it
    I have now committed to recording these 12 and defining my own
    I have shared these with my mastermind group
    Thank you for the reminder

  • Craig, Between your list and Ben Franklin’s Virtues to Live By I should have my own list up soon. Thanks.

  • I wonder why things that are so good for you are often so hard to do, or maintain doing?

    My personal mantra is “retire with purpose or just start to die.” Maybe for younger people it should be “live with purpose or just start to die.”

  • Bennett Cohen

    Thanks you for inspiring me to make my own list.