Let’s get practical, shall we?
Clarity about your rules allow you to turn all of what we have seen so far (the importance of needs and values/criteria) into something practical that you can use on a daily basis. Rules are crucial as they provide clarity so that you know what has to occur for a certain criteria to be realized and therefore that one or more needs (to which these criteria are linked) are being met.
We all have rules, conscious or not and these have a huge impact on our quality of life. After all, the same need or value/criterion will be met differently by different people. Some just happen to be fully aware of their rules and have designed them or tweaked them so as to make them helpful as opposed to painful in the management of their lives.
So what exactly is a rule? As an example, if you value creativity as a criterion for assessing a job opportunity vs. your current situation, you may want to define explicitly what should happen for you to consider a job to be truly creative. By the way, this is also called an evidence procedure. It’s about listing a clear set of evidence and how they are linked together.
For a coaching client of mine who works in the design industry his rule for feeling creative is to know that he has autonomy to design new stuff and get recognition via winning awards or getting media coverage at least once every three months.
Now that’s a very practical rule that describes in measurable terms if he is managing to be creative or not. The rule may be ambitious for some and very modest for others. It is important to define rules that are just right for you.
As a tip I would recommend to have rules which are challenging but not impossible to satisfy as these will stretch you without breaking you or you could end up having a criterion that is next to impossible to satisfy. This would produce pain and frustration as you conclude that you are not living in accordance to what matters to you i.e. your criteria and in turn your basic needs (creativity would probably be linked to variety, significance, connection, growth and even contribution). To put it more bluntly you should create easy to follow rules to meet your needs and value/criteria. This is your game, so design the rules that make it easy, but not boring, for you to win!
By the way, notice that if you are clear about your rules you are in a much better position to help others understand them. At work, at home, with friends making your rules clear can really improve your relationships. If you and others understand what you expect to happen to feel fulfilled you can really create the conditions for things to work smoothly and for empowering balanced cooperation to take place.
So here we have a chain that starts with needs that are articulated in terms of values/criteria and that are made real by rules.
Whatever you are facing you can deal with it first by assessing to what extent this challenge is aligned to what matters to you and ability to meet your rules.
Now if and when you are taking on a challenge you will do so in full consciousness that this is not just another project but rather a way to fulfill your needs and values and therefore to realize your identity.
If you are at a point where you need to decide if it’s time to move on or not, you will be able to take the decision and extract the learning at a deeper and more conscious level. You will be able to take in constructively what really matters and use it as a springboard for future action rather than a limiting experience that will hold you back. Where learning is based on alignment with your needs and value there is growth and motivation and thus a brighter outlook.
With this knowledge and insight you have a compass with which you can navigate your own journey. It may be tough at times, you may encounter barriers but that’s what makes the journey so exciting and worth taking. March on traveler of change!