I’ve spent a good decade or so trying to learn how to manage myself. The career path that I’ve chosen is one where I get to work from home, and working from home has a lot of obvious bonuses, but those freedoms come with more than enough leeway for you to get tangled in procrastination.

Somewhere I learned and was saddened that my word to myself wasn’t worth much. I was a great planner, but I could never get myself to do the productive things I had sketched out the night/week before. My action was sporadic and therefore average; my life never gained the traction I’d been dreaming about.

Thankfully I started hearing about and was receptive to the concept of building momentum in life that, once started, would carry you forward with progressively less effort. One of the first wins for me with this was hearing a friend talk about the 25 sales calls he had to make a day as a photocopier salesman. His boss would give him a sheet with 25 blank spaces that he’d have to bring back filled in with businesses he visited and people he talked to. I immediately ingrained this new habit for myself and consistently did my best to make at least 25 calls everyday for my sales job (not that huge a feat, as warm leads were fed to me). As long as I was doing that, I’d know I was on track, putting fuel into the furnace of my sales funnel.  This small, measurable, daily activity helped me bring in a lot more sales, plus helped me to sleep at night knowing I had put in the work required to keep the paycheques coming.

Having thus tasted the value of momentum, I experienced an epiphany when leadership maestro John C. Maxwell taught his ‘Rule of Five’ at a conference I was attending. The metaphor he used was to imagine someone taking a sharp axe, stepping up to a large tree, swinging it and connecting only five times; he takes the axe inside, waits a day, then goes outside to repeat the process, swinging another five times. What will eventually happen to that tree if repeated enough?  The tree will fall. So it is with accomplishment via the Rule of Five.

This was a eureka moment for me because I knew it had the added structure, with potential for momentum that I needed to take my self-managed life to the next level. I asked myself, what’s my perfect Rule of Five (Ro5)? What are five things I could do everyday to be sure that I was moving my life forward?

After a couple of weeks on this question I came with a Ro5 that looked like this:

1.  Pray/Meditate/Visualize

2.  20 outgoing sales phone calls

3.  Exercise mind and body (sweat and learn something)

4.  Work on fledgling business

5.  Learn Spanish

It took a good couple of weeks before I was able to complete one perfect Ro5 day. The perfect day came after I replaced one fledgling business that didn’t inspire me with one that did. Once that was tweeked I started to see perfect (or close) Ro5 days, five days a week or more, and the results were quickly evident. I was top salesperson month-after-month, my level of fitness reached and stayed at a lifetime high, with running finally becoming an effortless habit. My passion project (fledgling business) became my larger income, plus spiritually I found a greater degree of peace and connection. While the Spanish started off strong, this is where I dropped the ball most often, for some time considering a Rule of 4 a victory, while shopping for a #5 that compelled me.

A couple of years on and I’ve recently upped my efforts and formulated a new Ro5 that better serves me. It’s essentially the same, but packs more as I’ve put my business activities into one category, making room for a slot dedicated to writing. I’ve also changed the Spanish into a category called ‘Enrichment’ where I make room for other creative growth, such as learning how to play guitar.

If you’re not sure what you’d put in a Rule of Five, start with the ‘Rocking Chair Test’: Imagine you’re 125 years old, sitting on a rocking chair, looking back on your life. What do you regret not becoming? Take that, then see the flipside – who do you want to  become so that you have no regrets in your golden years?  Once you’ve got an idea of who that person is, ask yourself what 5 things that person did every day in order to keep their direction on track? This should get you started, and if this resonates, I encourage you to make creating a powerful Ro5 a thoughtful priority.

Do not underestimate the power of momentum and habit force. While your Rule of Five might be tough to get through as you start, it’ll eventually become nearly effortless. Once daily growth activities become effortless, your life will be touched with a degree of competence and mastery so powerful and attractive it will beget endless blessings. Go big! It’s a compelling picture that’s going to keep you motivated on a daily basis. Keep it fun, and don’t be afraid to skew the rules in your favour so that you win. Success begets success, enjoy creating a feedback loop of endless growth and accomplishment!