I was asked to write a blog post on my golden rules. Originally I thought this was going to be a post about little business tips and life hacks. This is what came out instead.

I suppose this post is for anyone who wants to live their life without too many guardrails. So here you have it, 10 rules I try to hold myself to on a daily basis. Thanks for the inspiration Hunter Walk.

  1. Do one thing every day that scares you.
    This Eleanor Roosevelt quote has been in my email signature since I was in college. Every once in awhile, someone asks me if it’s still true, and so I’ll pause and think about my last few days. Yes, I tell them, upon reflection. I still do this. As it turns out, I’m most comfortable when I force myself to feel a little uncomfortable.
  2. Try most things once.
    If I ever ask myself, “Might this be my only chance to try…?” I’ve already committed myself to action. I have a strong bias toward trying things simply because I haven’t done it before. The octopus, the crazy dress, that conversation I’ve been avoiding, that “type two fun” adventure (even if my mom is convinced it will certainly kill me). It certainly keeps life interesting.
  3. Dress how you feel.
    Anybody who knows me knows that I have a very multi-colored wardrobe. But not everyone knows that I choose my color palette each day carefully based on my mood and the season. If I’m wearing red, there’s a reason I want to feel bold that day. If I’m wearing brown, it’s because I want to feel grounded and level-headed. It’s one way that I externalize my emotions.
  4. Don’t go too long without seeing green.
    I find it easier on the eyes to let my gaze rest on lush plant life and trees than on, say, skyscrapers and concrete. If I go too many days without seeing any plants, I go a little crazy. This is why I garden and take walks in the park. Seeing green is a stabilizing force for my soul.
  5. Change something about your [immediate] environment every six months.
    A couple of times a year, my husband comes home to find a room in our home completely flipped around. Maybe I’ve flipped the arrangement of the bed and the dresser, changed all of the art on the walls, or switched the orientation of our living room. I can’t help it. I can’t stand to look at things the same way for too long. Any new perspective unlocks new creative energy.
  6. Spend time alone.
    It’s where I get my best ideas. And how I recharge.
  7. Don’t go back the way you came.
    I see it as a missed opportunity to potentially spot something new. I take this quite literally on commutes (if I take one subway route to work, I’ll take a different one home) and on walks (circuitous walks are better than one-directional paths), but also a little metaphorically (say, in my career).
  8. When meeting new people, listen more than you speak.
    One of my favorite things to do in the world is to meet someone totally new and ask them a million questions about themselves with absolutely no other motive than to learn something new. You’d be surprised how infrequently people get asked about themselves. It’s a rare treat to be asked. I find it endlessly entertaining to pull these perspectives out of people I meet. And they find it cathartic to have a chance to share.
  9. Read with a pen.
    I read books in print form, and always with a pen. I often find it to be the only way I can commit certain concepts to memory. It keeps reading an active state (and makes passing along books much more fun).
  10. Finish what you start.
    Starting is more fun. But finishing is more gratifying.

GM @USV, alum of @StackOverflow and @NorthwesternU, board member at @CompSci_High and @NUalumni, co-founder of #BeyondCodingNYC

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