Principles

I love the book Principles by Ray Dalio. This is his idea behind them:

Principles are fundamental truths that serve as the foundations for behavior that gets you what you want out of life. They can be applied again and again in similar situations to help you achieve your goals.

He also wants you to come up with your own principles:

The most important thing is that you develop your own principles and ideally write them down, especially if you are working with others.

This is a collection of what I think are my principles.

This list is never done and will constantly change.

Stillness

I meditate daily for 20 minutes. It's the best habit I ever picked up. Make room in your day to do this. You will become calmer. You will be less agitated by things happening in your life. You will be able to step aside and reflect on things.

Through all of this, you will make better decisions. You will be less driven by spontaneous reactions. It's a beautiful transformation that has happened in my life.

I started out meditationg with the Headspace app. By now, I have switched to Oak, which is a free app. It does not offer as much content as Headspace. It does offer everything you need, though. A guided meditation, a loving kindness meditation and an unguided meditation with a timer.

Staying with your breath for 20 minutes is not easy. You will be distracted again and again. Thoughts will come up again and again. You might not even get better at meditation. What I can guarantee you: You will get better at being.

So: Sit down. Close your eyes. Breathe for 20 minutes. Your life will change. It's that simple.

Enough

The idea of "knowing your enough" came up at a seminar I visited. Look at the different areas of your life. What do you want to achieve? At which point are you satisfied?

How much money is enough?
How much work is enough?
Which career level is enough?
Which fitness level is enough?
How many children are enough?
How big does your ideal flat or house have to be?

Take every area of your life, think about this and be happy if you've reached your stage of "enough".

Simplicity

In the last days, one principle became more and more appealing to me: Keeping things simple. I don't mean easy. I mean simple. Not taking an easy way out, but rather distilling the problem and the solution to a bare minimum. Don't do more. Don't do less. Do what is required. This mostly is not easy. It should be simple, though.

This idea pops up throughout various books and articles I've read, from workout to finance to work. Even with clothing, it can be helpful to keep things simple.

This has one huge advantage: You need to decide less. This weaves through all of the outlined ideas.

  • If I do one and the same workout day in, day out, I do not need to think about what to do.
  • If I eat the same breakfast again and again, I do not need to think about what to eat.
  • If I automate the distribution of my salary, I do not need to think about it.
  • If I stick to investing in a certain set of ETFs, I do not need to think about what to do with my money (for most of the time).
  • If I wear similar clothes day in, day out, I do not need to think about what to wear.

Keep your work simple

I code a lot by now. I've done communication surrounding code projects as well. I saw quite some projects that could not easily be summed up and explained to an outsider. Turned out: These were all in dire need of refinement. Maybe the problem was not clear. Or the solution was not clear. Or it was too complicated. Or we wanted to solve too much with too much.

Other projects went like a breeze. They were… well: Simple. We knew what we wanted to solve. We had a clear idea how to solve it. And everyone could see the value in solving the problem. That's what you want.

What you will encounter are problems that are inherently hard. Keep thinking, keep trying, keep being curious. A simple solution for your problem(s) will reveal itself over time.

Keep your finances simple

Check out my finance principles.

Keep your workouts simple

Check out my workout principles.

Keep your diet simple

Check out my diet principles.

Keep your clothing simple

I'm (very) slowly getting there. I love the idea of a minimalist wardrobe Pieter Levels lined out. My wardrobe is currently far from that. Still, I get better at buying "more of the same". And with that only things that I really will wear.

There's quite some work to do with sorting out older stuff I never wear at all. That's a process I'm still exploring, though.

Also, the idea of wearing basically the same every day to not have to make a decision there is also very appealing.

An image of me, Markus Siering