Whatever success I’ve had in life hasn’t been because of anything unique about me—it’s because of principles that I believe anyone can adopt”—Ray Dalio

Birthdays are usually the time to celebrate with family and friends. Once the celebrations subside, one also tends to reflect on the life gone past and the path one would like to chart out in the future—life-altering decisions that changed the course of life and those that can define the future.

Principles impact both professional and personal life

It was my birthday recently and I found myself pondering over the principles that guide me both personally and professionally. I found myself examining how deeply entwined my personal and professional lives were and how my personal principles were profoundly impacting both these important aspects of my life. It was then that I made a conscious effort to understand how my personal principles were guiding my decision-making with respect to the company’s culture.

Why principles are important

In today’s world, where stress levels are high and people’s lives—personal, professional, or both—are increasingly becoming difficult, having principles to guide you, can be both therapeutic and rejuvenating.

Principles are not rules. They usually have a scientific explanation and are based on morals, ethics, and common sense. They are the fundamental truths and beliefs that form the core of all our knowledge and values. Unlike rules, principles are not binding but they shape our understanding of the world around us. Again, principles are different from values, as they govern our actions by explaining how things are done and how to achieve the desired results.

27 principles that guide me

I read quite a lot and am a big fan of Ray Dalio and his book on principles, written in plain English and made easily digestible. It helps true up what you’re focused on and believe in besides guiding you day-to-day, even subconsciously. This is extremely important in work situations as it helps shape the work culture in your company where you have a team that looks up to you for guidance.

Therefore, this birthday, after a self-introspection session and drawing inspiration from the book, I decided to write down as many principles as my age.

At 27, I jotted down the following 27 principles:

  1. I’ll do it later” is just another way of saying “I’ll do it never” – most of the time
  2. Celebrate all wins as they come, no matter how small
  3. Spend more time with family
  4. Eat more healthy foods, preferably home-cooked
  5. Live with conviction
  6. Use data to drive your decisions, not emotion
  7. Do more things that scare you
  8. Eat less frequently
  9. Drink more water
  10. Find time to reflect – why something worked is just as important as why something didn’t work
  11. Be confident and humble
  12. Strategy is easy, execution is valuable
  13. Being vulnerable is not the same as being weak
  14. Prioritize sleep, you need it
  15. Be a loyal and generous family member and friend
  16. We should not impose the expectations we hold for ourselves on others
  17. Make the bed in the morning!
  18. Meditate daily
  19. Exercise regularly and have fun doing it
  20. Don’t compare yourself to others
  21. Find ways to enjoy the journey, there is only one permanent end
  22. Hone in your emotional intelligence and constantly audit it
  23. Make sure you are always self-aware
  24. Spend more time in nature
  25. Read more books
  26. Travel more and become more worldly 
  27. Do this again next year

All of these principles are simple and doable; more importantly, they help me remain rooted, in sync with nature, and maintain calm, irrespective of the situation I find myself in.

Do you have any principles that guide you in your journey of life? Do share them with me.