How to Create Guiding Principles to Design a Life and Work You Love

Back in early 2010, I quickly became overwhelmed. I was figuring out how to earn money blogging while still having a day job. I saw a new opportunity to make money so I went for it. The worse thing happened next.

How to create guiding principles for your life and work

It was a huge success. 

I was not prepared for how I was going to fulfill all the orders personally. I was going to have to hire people to help keep up. Only one problem – I didn’t build in enough profit margin to justify hiring someone else to help complete the work.

This new business was being a ghost writer for other content marketers. I loved to learn and write so I assumed it was a good idea. The problem was I had no filter in place. I had no guiding principles for my work to help me decide if that is what I really wanted to do.

  • Did I really want to spend 40+ hours a week writing for other people?
  • Did I really want to write on any and every topic just to make money?
  • Did I really want to work more and make less?

I stopped taking orders and ended this business venture 90 days later. Today, I have a simple list of guiding principles that filters out all new opportunities. Here’s mine and then let me help you create your own:

I use a simple acronym called L.I.F.E. When I live by these principles, my business works for me instead of the other way around.

L – Lifestyle – I want to control the when, where and how of my work.

I – Impact – I want to impact millions in areas that matter.

F – Financial Freedom – I want to write my own W-2.

E – Effort – I want to give my very best no matter what.

How do I apply this?

You may be wondering how do I actually use the statements above. Here are a few examples:

  • I won’t be accepting a full time position working for someone else because I want to control my yearly earnings
  • I won’t be chasing an opportunity because it makes good money. It has to also make an impact in lives in some way.
  • I want to have a business that allows me to be portable (control the when, where, and how of my work) so I won’t be opening a physical, retail location
  • Whether I accept a speaking opportunity or not must pass through my guiding principles

Now, it is time for you to begin to develop your own. Here are a few pointers.

1. Brainstorm what’s most important to you – Write down a few thoughts on things that are important to you. They can even be a bunch of random thoughts or words. A few words that mean the most to me are financial freedom, lifestyle business, impact, mentoring, coaching, resourceful, and effort.

2. Formulate powerful, short statements that energize you – The next step is to write a powerful one sentence statement for each. Write them in such a way that they excite you just to read them.

3. Make them easy to remember – I’d encourage you to somehow create an acronym with you list if at all possible. Use a thesaurus if you need some ideas. Making them memorable will help you to actually use them and share them with others.

4. Use them to filter new opportunities – I mentioned this before but the whole point of this exercise is for you to know have a filter that helps you in whether to say no or yes to a new opportunity.

Question: Have you done something similar? Share your guiding principles below. You can leave a comment by clicking here.


    Jonathan has been blogging since 2009 and is still in awe that the Creator of the Universe desires to have a relationship with him. His passions include spending time with his kids, reading, March Madness, surprise get-a-way trips with his wife, and watching funny YouTube videos.

    Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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