Nearly a decade ago, I wrote an article titled “12 Rules to Live By”.

To this day it remains one of the most popular and highly viewed articles on Early to Rise and continues to provide inspiration and motivation for thousands of readers each month.

However, I’ve learned and grown a LOT over the past 7 or 8 years and today, I wanted to revisit this topic. I’ve realized that 12 rules is a little bit overboard for most people and, honestly, not completely necessary.

So today, I want to share with you the 8 core rules for living an exceptional life regardless of:

  • Your socioeconomic status
  • Your relationship status
  • Your career and business goals
  • Your personality

These rules will help you live a better life regardless of where you are today or where you want to go tomorrow. These rules apply to all human beings looking to live a more exceptional and fulfilling life and, I promise, if you integrate them into your daily life, your reality will be unrecognizable 12 months from now.

Rules vs. Shoulds

We all have a list of “shoulds” in our life.

We should…

  • Workout 5 days a week
  • Eliminate sugar and alcohol from our diets
  • Work harder on our businesses
  • Stick to date night with our spouse
  • Watch less TV

And the list goes on.

But there is a fundamental difference between a “should” and a rule.

Take eating for example.

If the average person on a diet was to go to a friend’s barbeque, they would be hard pressed to say “no” to that juicy delicious burger that is definitely not on their diet.

However, if a vegetarian was to attend that same cookout, they would have no problem turning down that same delicious hunk of beef.


Because they have a dogmatic and strict personal rule that states, “I do not eat meat NO MATTER WHAT”.

Vegetarians don’t say, “I don’t eat meat… Unless I really, really want to”. They are strict with themselves and refuse to consume meat regardless of the social pressures or temptations that are present.

That is the power of personal rules.

When you create a true rule for yourself, you don’t have to wonder whether it’s ok to let your boundaries slip “Just this once”.

Your rules become a part of your identity and start to make up the very fabric of your being. Rules aren’t something that you do they are a part of who you are.

As such, creating an empowering set of personal rules is one of the most positive and impactful things you can do to improve your life and achieve your goals.

A Note to the Rebels and Rule-Haters

I get it…

Ever since you were in primary school, you’ve learned that rules make life less fun. They’re restrictive, boring, and just plain annoying, right?

Well, not exactly.

In many instances, rules are simply socially conditioned “shoulds” that don’t make sense or provide any real value to your life.

Vishen Lakhiani, the founder of Mindvalley refers to these as “Brules” or bull, er… crap rules (one of my personal rules is that I don’t swear, remember? ?

Things like:

  • You need to get good grades and go to college
  • You have to work 60 hours a week to be successful
  • You need to be married and have kids by 27
  • You must adhere to a specific (religious, political, or philosophical) belief.

These rules don’t serve you or your life and, yes, they are largely b.s.

Personal rules, on the other hand, are standards and guidelines that you use to improve the quality of your life and enjoy higher levels of happiness and fulfillment.

For example, a personal rules such as, “I will not do hard drugs”, might seem to take some of the fun out of partying and going out with friends. But in the big picture, this rule will reduce personal regrets, save you thousands of dollars every year, and ensure that you remain healthy for years to come.

Personal rules are not arbitrary or irrelevant. They are hyper-specific personal boundaries that help you live your best life.

In my own life, having personal rules has allowed me to:

  • Overcome anxiety and alcoholism and enjoy a life of freedom, abundance, and fulfillment
  • Build several 7-figure businesses in industry’s I’m passionate about
  • Transform my health and energy levels so that I’m charged up and alive each and every day.
  • Build a bulletproof network filled with billionaires, thought leaders, and world changers

And so much more.

I know that you might cringe at the very mention of the word “rules” but I promise, in the long run, creating and following a set of personal guidelines will lead to nothing but positive changes in your life and the lives of those around you.

So what are some

8 Rules to Help You Live an Exceptional Life

While my own list of personal rules might seem a bit restrictive and exhausting to some of you, my goal with this post is not to turn you into an alternate version of me. It’s to give you a set of general principles and guidelines to help you live your best life.

With that in mind, here are the 12 rules that you must live by to lead and exceptional life.

1. Wake Up and Go to Bed at the Same Time Every Day

The human body craves routine. Although many studies have concluded that there is no difference in socioeconomic status between morning larks and night owls, the research has shown time and time again that sticking to a regular wake up and bedtime each day helps to regulate your circadian rhythm, hormonal function, digestive tract, and all sorts of other bodily processes.

Whether you’re going to bed by 8 p.m. and rising by 4 a.m. (like I do) or turning in at 1 a.m. and sleeping until 8 a.m. (like Onnit founder, Aubrey Marcus), you must stick to a regular bedtime and wake up time to live your best life.

In fact, Jordan Peterson, clinical psychologist and the author of “12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos” (the book that inspired this article) stated that the first thing he will do when working with a new client is to have them adhere to a strict wake up time.

Peterson went on to say that the time you go to sleep isn’t nearly as important as the time that you wake up in terms of regulating bodily functions.

The bottom line is this…

If you want to live the most exceptional life possible, you need high levels of energy and vitality to do so and one of the easiest ways to guarantee that you have this energy every day is to stick to a regular wake up time (at the very least) and bedtime (when possible).

But before I leave you to set your alarm and implement this rule, I want to take a minute to talk about the importance of sleeping enough.

Sleep is essential for success. No matter what time you go to bed or wake up, your body needs at least 7 hours of high quality sleep in order to function at the highest levels.

Unfortunately, most people don’t actually know how to have a great night of sleep. They sit in bed on their phones, watching the news, or playing the latest video game blasting their body with stimulating blue light and then wonder why they can’t sleep. Or they pound caffeine until 6 p.m. eat a carb heavy meal only an hour before bed, and stir up a few Vodka Martinis to help them doze off and then wonder why they wake up feeling like crap.

If you want to consistently enjoy the best nights of sleep possible then I recommend that you create a personal rule to follow my 10-3-2-1-0 method.


  • 10 hours before bed –> No more caffeine.
  • 3 hours before bed –> No more food or alcohol.
  • 2 hours before bed –> No more work.
  • 1 hour before bed –> No more screen time (turn off all phones, TVs and computers).
  • 0 – The number of times you will hit the snooze button in the morning.

If you will do this everyday, I can promise that your energy levels and general success will skyrocket.

2. Devote the First 60 Minutes of Your Work Day to Personal Deep Work

The first 60 minutes of my day are always devoted to writing. No if’s, and’s, or but’s. I wake up, use the bathroom, drink a big glass of water and sit down to write for 60 minutes every single morning without fail.

However, the value of scheduled daily deep work extends to everyone of every trade and craft.

Whether you are a hard charging entrepreneur, top level executive, or making minimum wage in the service industry, it’s important that you devote at least 60 minutes a day to personal deep work.

Personal deep work is the work that moves the needle forward in your life and helps you achieve your biggest goals.

If you’re currently an employee or unemployed, this chunk of time would be devoted to building a side hustle or working on your high income skills.

If you’re an entrepreneur or executive, this time should be devoted to the #1 thing you, and only you, can do to take your business to the next level.

3. Do Not Check Social Media or Email Until You Conclude Your Deep Work

By checking social media and email first thing in the morning you are putting yourself into a state of reaction instead of proactively pursuing your most important tasks.

The world will not end if you miss a Tweet or fail to respond to an important email until after you’ve completed your deep work.

However, if you give into the temptation of email and social media, you are putting yourself into “reaction mode” and setting yourself up for a day of anxiety, overwhelm, and fire fighting.

4. Write a Plan for Each Day the Night Before

Without a doubt one of the most impactful tactics that I use on a daily basis is my nightly plan.

Although I have a rather comprehensive planning process (that you can check out here) you don’t need to go crazy with this.

By simply completing a 5-minute “brain dump” (literally writing out everything that’s on your mind and getting it out on paper) and then writing down the 3 most important priorities you’re going to work on the next day, you will ensure that you know exactly what you need to do and when you need to do it.

This priceless strategy has improved my life in more ways than I can count and I promise, it will improve yours too.

5. Exercise Hard for at Least 3 Hours a Week

The health benefits of exercise are incalculable.


  • Improved productivity
  • Increased happiness
  • Decrease in mortality
  • Improved mental health

And a whole lot more.

But let me ask you (and be honest here). How often do you prioritize exercise? How many hours per week do you devote to moving your body and working up a good sweat?

If the answer is anything less than 3 hours a week, then you are leaving valuable energy and productive power on the table.

You don’t need to be the next Arnold Schwarzenegger here. Just get outside and move for 30 minutes every morning or do 60 minutes of heavy resistance training 3 times a week. I promise, it will change your life.

6. Treat Everything in Life as If It’s Happening For You Not To You

Life can be brutal. It’s just how the world is. There’s no shortcut to living an amazing life and I can guarantee you that no matter who you are, how much money you make, or how well connected you might be, you are GOING to face difficult challenges and obstacles on your journey.

However, the challenges you face matter much less than how you face them.

You can choose to view everything that happens in your life as something that has happened to you or for you. Train your brain to reframe setbacks and challenges as opportunities for growth and success.

7. Devote at Least 30 Minutes a Day to Relevant Self Education

The average CEO reads 52 books a year or one book a week. As the old saying goes, “Success leaves clues”. If the best in the world take time out of their busy schedules to read and educate themselves, why wouldn’t you?

You don’t need to read a book a week to be successful and live your best life, but you should devote at least 30 minutes a day to educating yourself on relevant concepts and ideas that will help you perform better at work and in life.

If you learn only ONE big idea each week that helps you improve your baseline performance by 5%, your life will improve by more than 260% each year! (That’s a LOT of improvement).

8. Express Gratitude Daily

“When gratitude appears, fear disappears” ~Tony Robbins

It is impossible to be both anxious and grateful at the same time. When you cultivate an attitude and state of extreme gratitude on a daily basis, you protect yourself against the stressors and challenges of everyday life.

By keeping a daily gratitude journal you will remind yourself that even if the worst case scenario happened in your business or career, you still have access to everything you need. Shelter, clean water, a sound mind and body, and at least one person who loves you.

No matter how hard your life might be right now or how impossible the challenges you’re facing might feel, you have something to be grateful for. Never forget that.


There you have it! Your 8 rules for living an exceptional life.

Equipped with these 8 non-negotiable standards you can expect a dramatic leap forward in your personal and professional success and your general well being.

They might not be easy to stick to, but I promise they’re worth it.

What do you think of these rules? What personal rules do you live by? Let me know in the comments below!