setting policies

How Setting Policies Can Have a Huge Impact On Business and In Life

We can get more done by setting policies for the less strategic events of our life:

  • Do all grocery shopping Saturday morning
  • Respond to email for 45 minutes after lunch
  • Schedule annual health checkups the month before your birthday
  • Go to the gym Monday, Wednesday, Friday mornings

We might call these “defensive policies” because the point is to contain the tasks, chores, and routine items so they don’t absorb more of our schedule or brainpower. Setting policies is a one-time decision that covers many events so we don’t have to revisit it often.

Setting Policies to Move Forward

This tactic of setting a policy can also be good offense; that is, policies can help us move forward toward our goals. While a defensive policy says “this isn’t that important and I want to manage it downward,” an offensive policy says:

“I am determined to follow through on this, and it’s important enough that I’m going to commit now and not look back.”

How can you use this? Here are a few specifics:

  • Write three thank you notes every Tuesday morning until the holidays
  • Read a book related to your job for 15 minutes after dinner every day for the next week
  • Go to the gym every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at lunch for the next two months
  • Call one college friend every Saturday morning until your birthday
  • Practice piano every morning for twenty minutes for the next calendar month

Follow Through on Achievable Goals

Note the term of these policies: a month, a week, a few months. The real magic in offensive policy is the follow-through, so it’s critical to exercise the muscle of resolve. Better to set a modest commitment and make it happen than to shoot too high at first.

The mindset must be to remind yourself that you made a strategic policy decision so you would not have to make a tactical call in the moment. You don’t have to question whether going to the gym or practicing music or reading the book is the right thing to do; you already made that call.

Yes, policy is a low-energy, bureaucratic word… so if it helps you to use the word “commitment” or “plan of attack”, go for it. But the truth here is there is power in the mundane and daily. These are routines at which we are likely to improve and excel.

A Plan for Results

Is there a goal you’d like to see more progress on? Is it one of the above (being more grateful / professional development / physical fitness / staying in touch with friends / learning to play an instrument) or is it something else?

Set a new offensive policy, for this week or for the rest of the month. It will make a difference.



Jack Quarles

Jack Quarles is a speaker, trainer, consultant and author of Amazon #1 bestsellers How Smart Companies Save Money and Same Side Selling, as well as his latest, Expensive Sentences: Debunking the Common Myths that Derail Decisions and Sabotage Success. Jack has co-founded several companies, serves on two non-profit boards, and received degrees from Yale and Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Business.

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