Today, I am going to run. Tonight, I am going to enjoy craft drinking beer knowing I’ve earned this as a reward.
If I run longer, I get to enjoy a higher ABV beer or a few more drinks. If I run less, the reverse is true. Sometimes I run every day, like I did for three years. Sometimes I take a day off, and cut back accordingly.
These simple rules have guided my decisions about exercise and beer for the better part of a decade.
It’s just part of my routine, so I don’t think too much of it anymore, until a few days ago when I heard an interview with MIT lecturer and former Harvard professor Donald Sull who wrote a book called “Simple Rules.”
“I just hate complexity at a visceral level,” Sull said on the podcast Curious Minds. “All this needless proliferation of features … ugh.”
I couldn’t help but think of the ever-expanding craft beer market and the growing industry around fitness and exercise. There are thousands of craft breweries with evolving styles of beer (you can even plot the different stout styles on a matrix). There are endless amounts of races someone could enter, from Tough Mudders to marathons.
The world is complex, and Sull isn’t trying to deny or change that fact. Rather, his goal is to find simple approaches to making faster and more effective decisions when faced with overwhelming complexity.
“What are some rules that will work for me?” he asked. “And how can we measure some impact?”
So for example, you can rate your beers on Untappd to make decisions about which beers you should buy in the future when you are paralyzed by choices.
And then you can boil that down to a few basic simple rules. For example: I will run today, and then I’ll enjoy an IPA tonight.
What rules work for you?
Sometimes simpler is better.