I love rules. I make them, I follow them and I impose them. Just ask my kids.
My personal rules cover all corners of my life, from health to finances to social life and housekeeping. Exercise 30 minutes a day. Don’t spend what you don’t have. Make time for friends every week. Put everything away now. If you don’t need it, ditch it. Leave a clean kitchen sink every night. Call Mom every few days.
Some rules are virtually non-negotiable, like exercising every day. Others, like the one about putting things away immediately, are often broken -- even forgotten -- as anyone who has seen my kitchen and office knows.
While it might sound as if I’m my own worst Gestapo, my rules help me stay healthy and sane. They also keep me organized and prevent me from going broke.
But here’s my favorite maxim: Make sure you break the rules sometimes.
As the old saying goes, rules are made to be broken -- which is why on some days, even I will shatter my own code of conduct. I’ll eat three desserts in a day. I’ll splurge on a pricey pair of shoes. I’ll leave dirty dishes in the kitchen sink overnight. Sometimes – though rarely -- I’ll even bypass my workout.
Breaking the rules helps make life a little more fun and a bit more spontaneous. If I did everything according to my private code of conduct, every single day of every single week of every single year, I’d probably go crazy. Giving myself the leeway to cut loose usually means I’m having some fun, doing something interesting or -- say it ain’t so -- actually relaxing a little bit.
So if you’re like me (you like to stay on track), give yourself an occasional break and throw your personal rules to the wind. There’s more than one way to live, and it can change from one moment to next, one day to another or even week by week. The key is knowing when to break your rules. And frankly, there’s no rule for that.
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Winnie Yu is Completely You’s mom blogger. She has two daughters (Samantha, 14, and Annie, 12) and is the author of seven books, including New Mother’s Guide to Breastfeeding and What to Eat for What Ails You. Her work has appeared in numerous publications, including Woman’s Day, AARP Bulletin, Prevention and WebMD.com.