A personal operating principle is a value lived consistently, tested under pressure, and through experience. Put another way, it is the “values you live by during good times and bad.” It is the person you strive to be every day regardless of whatever changes and curveballs life may throw your way. Your POP can guide your choices and ensure you are becoming the person you want to be.
So, how does one determine what principles and values they want to live their life by? Beautifully, there is no set process for this, you can design your own method. Ask yourself a series of questions that elicit profound self-discovery about yourself, your goals, dreams, and intentions. Simply asking “why” can be clarifying in and of itself? “Why” do I want this?” “Why am I striving for this?”
Examples of these values include productivity, integrity, honesty, optimism, learning, growth, fun, energy, organization, and creativity. To start, examine that list and decide what speaks to you. Which of those values do you want to be known for? At the end of your life, which of those values do you want people to say you lived by?
Once you determine that, write them down and put them somewhere you’ll see frequently. A journal, your bedpost, your bathroom mirror, somewhere you can see them every day. When making life choices, both large and small, consider these values and determine if your choice represents them. When your choices align with your operating principles, you can be confident that you live life on your own terms.