rules to live by

When I was twenty-four, I started working at a theater company. In an attempt to remind myself of where I’d been and everything I’d learned along the way, I made a list of twenty “Rules to Live By,” and taped it up inside my locker at work.

While some of these rules have aged well and others haven’t, I still have a copy of this same sheet taped above my desk.

“Rules to Live By,” circa 2015

Back when I was running a much earlier iteration of this same blog, I decided these rules required more examination. I began a series of posts dissecting these rules and recounting how I’d come to understand them. As was the case with much of my creative efforts back then, I never finished these blog posts, but the list remained in my periphery for quick reference.

As I prepare to transition seasons of life, I thought these rules might bear examination once again.

Here’s the list for quick reference:

  1. You are enough.
  2. Be fearless.
  3. Head down, mouth shut.
  4. Don’t dream it, be it.
  5. Ask for what you want.
  6. Do the work.
  7. Make every mistake you are meant to.
  8. There is no box.
  9. Earn your paycheck.
  10. You are doing your thing. They are doing theirs. One has nothing to do with the other.
  11. Dare to be great. (Really, I dare you…)
  12. Succeed on your own terms.
  13. Channel the disappointment back into the craft.
  14. Breathe deep.
  15. Be in love with your life.
  16. Stay awake.
  17. Don’t look forward. Don’t look back.
  18. You don’t get a life. You build a life.
  19. Leave this all better than you found it.
  20. Finish strong.