The rule of one

Clogged up to-do lists. Bursting diaries. Chaotic headspaces. Getting better at life isn’t always about adding more things. If we take a leaf from nature, evolution isn’t about increasing complexity, it’s sometimes also about making things sleeker.

So this piece isn’t just about how to add more things to your brain, checklists, and schedules. Instead, it’s about simplifying.

What’s your One Question?

The story, according to Noah Kagan, was that in Facebook’s early days, Zuck would go, “Does it help us grow?” when anyone pitched ideas. Regardless of whether Idea A was a money-spinning machine or Idea Z was Oprah-worthy. It was about growth.

It dawned on me how we get carried away with our goals sometimes. Like, ‘becoming happy’ spins into ‘smiling more’ and ‘less anger’, and then morphs into ‘has gorgeous clothes’ and ‘a bigger car’. They’re great. But, distracting. We get excited, meander off-course, and get upset with ourselves for not achieving what we set out to do. So when creating change- building those new muscles of habit and breaking old ones- sometimes we need a Unifying Goal.

Like Zuck’s “Does it help us grow?”, it’s a simple One Question we can ask ourselves. The constant beacon that shines from our lighthouse, no matter how choppy the waters get. Or when the moon gets clouded over.

You can create your One Question for different parts of your life, as your lighthouse beacon.

What’s your One Rule?

I remember studying one of Ramit Sethi’s course materials, and he talked about how people make everything emotional. He cited how some fight with themselves about whether to flush the toilet. Now, that is a non-negotiable for me, but clearly not for some.

But when you fight with yourself, you incinerate needless energy.

I can think of the number of things we easily do in our lives where we have that internal debate.

Like, should I exercise today. Do I take my supplements? Should I read? Should I use my skincare products?

Instead of telling you you need to do them all, first identify what kind of person you’d like to become, and what actions does that person do. Break these actions into frequency – is it a monthly trip to the masseuse, an annual health check, a thrice-weekly exercise class? And then schedule them as non-negotiables.

They become simple rules.

Just like the way you don’t fight with yourself if you will brush your teeth tonight and tomorrow morning. I should hope not.

And there are things like ‘Should I read’ or ‘Should I exercise’? That can be easily done, once we get over the sting of having to do it perfectly.

A great habit is, instead of scrolling on autopilot on the ‘gram, you open your book for five minutes. Or, to lift weights between your calls – and have them next to your desk. Otherwise, throw in a quick stroll to the café.

Every action counts. Every moment you don’t spend fighting with yourself buys you back so much more energy. Can you hear that compound interest working for you? Ka-ching.

What’s your One Word

At the start of every training or coaching journey I embark on, I always tell my attendees and clients to write that One Word they’d like to anchor them.

It can be the type of person they’d like to become. Or how they’d like to feel.

Words like strong, in-control, peaceful, inspired and enlightened always come up.

This One Word, like Zuck’s One Rule, cuts out the noise.

So with that word guide, in every action you take, you ask yourself:

  • does this take me closer to the person I want to become, or
  • does this take me further away from the person I want to become?


It’s a sobering moment of truth. And you start to become exponentially more thoughtful about the thoughts you choose to entertain, the people you spend time with, and the behaviours that are habits.

Back to you, what are your holy trinity of Ones that you’ve chosen for yourself?