The Autodidacts

Exploring the universe from the inside out

Self Governance 101: The Legislative Branch

For years, I’ve had a folder on my computer titled Notes for Next Time. When I think of ways I could do a better job of something the next time around, I try to write them down so I'll remember when it's time for action later on. These can be as simple as how many litres of water I use per day when I go on my annual canoe camping trip (something that turns out to be surprisingly hard to remember a year later, when I'm packing my gear and trying to figure out how many water jugs to wash out), or as comprehensive as a personal financial policy, or hierarchy of priorities.

I find these notes helpful. Just writing down what I learned makes it more likely I will remember it, and it's nice to be able to think I'm continually upping my game — feeling like I learned something from a less than ideal circumstance, and might be able to handle it better the next time it comes around.

Creating these guidelines for myself can also help reduce decision paralysis, and improve (and speed up) my choices overall. It's easier to choose the high road when I'm still at arms length from the extra self-discipline it will involve. And if I can make one good decision that dictates a hundred trickle-down good decisions without any extra effort, I'll take it!

I use a series of text files, stored in a folder on my computer and labelled with the date and subject. Usually I fill them with thoughts first jotted down in my pocket notebook. Specific topics get their own files; Employment Evaluation List, Travel Notes for Next Time, Project Ideas, Things to do When Covid is Over, and so forth. More general things to remember and guidelines for how I want to be as a person go into a catch-all file titled Notes to Self.

Personal policies such as these are (by definition!) highly personal, and therefor, best developed by none-other than your own awesome self. But to give you the general idea, here are some personal policies I've found helpful. Keep in mind these are policies and not laws. This means they can be overridden from time to time if necessary, but I've found that they hold true about 98% of the time.

  • Don't eat when I'm already full (seems like a silly no-brainer, but I've found it's both surprisingly hard, and has wide-ranging benefits).
  • Don't borrow money or go into debt.
  • Be minimal with my purchases and belongings, but when I do need something, try to get a top-quality, durable version of it (used, when possible).
  • Pursue excellence, not recognition.
  • Get enough sleep.
  • Don't get drunk.
  • Try to be simple, positive, and supportive in my communications with others.
  • Take care of my health.

These are all things I can decide once, and generate countless trickle-down good results. And along with generating good results, each of these decisions reduces the number of decisions I have to make.

I hope this post stirs your thoughts on the topic of the legislative branch of the Government of Self. Let me know what personal policies you've found most useful in the comments!