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A note on exceptions

Every once in a while, they’re fine.

  • A few drinks at a friend’s wedding halfway through “Sober October”…

  • Skipping a training session you were committed to when a family member needs help…

Life happens. We do what we have to.

The problem is with the world we live in: it is chock-full of opportunities for exceptions. And in the moment of decision it’s difficult to know where to draw the line.

“Come out and have a drink! I’m only in town a couple days!”

A worthwhile exception? Or a convenient excuse?

The best we can do for ourselves is to draw the lines ahead of time, and be consistent.

“I’ll have to pass this time, I only drink alcohol on Saturdays.”

When you make it a rule, two great things happen:

First you remove a decision. There’s no choice to make, this is just what you do.

Second, your refusal becomes a lot easier for other people to accept because it’s impersonal: it is not a refusal of them.

True exceptions are fine. But if you make them every day, they’re not exceptions anymore.

Once you’ve committed, draw lines, make rules, and be consistent.

You may have to say “no” more often to people you care about. Interestingly, however, you will often find their respect for you goes up.