Write Your Own List of Guiding Principles

I mentioned in a previous podcast that I haven’t been much of a creative list person, but wanted to start using list making as a creative tool. I was reminded of the personal commandments list while browsing The Happiness Project.

henry commandments

Then I remembered that some of my favourite writers had their own personal commandments lists.  The image above is from Henry Miller.  Jack Kerouac’s, another favourite writer of mine, list is here.

I thought this would be a neat way of exploring my core values and set them out in a more creative fashion than the traditional list of core values.  These are not resolutions, but guiding principles to help me steer the ship that is my life:

  1. Be here now
  2. Be Clay
  3. Be Awesome
  4. Make every day count
  5. Live well
  6. Share freely
  7. Love unconditionally
  8. Smile often
  9. Think big
  10. Follow my curiosities

To come up with your own list of guiding principles, consider these 3 things:

Phrases that have stuck with you over time.

For example, “Be here now” is from an English teacher I had who used to yell BE HERE NOW whenever he caught you idly daydreaming.  His other phrase that stuck with me, but didn’t make the list was “Pretend you did know, what would you say?” He would never accept “I don’t know” as an answer.

 Keep it high level

You want to keep your principles short and sweet so that they are easy to remember.  Think of them as anchor phrases that immediately change your state.

 It has to be true for you

We all have our own personal paradigms of how the world works.  What’s true for me, won’t necessarily be true for you and that’s ok.


What did you come up with? I would love to read your list, so if you feel inclined, please share in the comments below.