My Biggest Learning from Ray Dalio's Principles

About 4 months ago I read the well known and well respected book Principles by Ray Dalio. Whilst compiling my newsletter a couple of weeks ago, I found myself reflecting back to some standout points in the book that have now influenced the way I structure my days and the impact it’s had on my life, so I thought it might be interesting to share.

Artist: Dongkyu Lim

Design your life

A particularly striking part of the book that has stuck with me is this idea of viewing your life from the perspective of a designer of a machine rather than a cog in the machine. At the time of reading Principles I took some notes that I think nicely summarize this valuable concepts:

  • Design the machine — design your life for the purpose you want it to have.
  • Diagnose the problems — if the machine isn’t producing the results you want, figure out how to fix it, to get the output (the life) you want.

I found that once you begin to frame different aspects of your life in this way, you begin to have a better perspective and sense of clarity over how and what you need to do to get your life and/or business on the right track.

Think like a life designer

Now i’m aware that these kind of ‘guru models’ have the risk of being all fluff, but for me a more tangible way to start operating on this ‘designer level’ and not on a ‘cog level’ was to start adding structure and protocols in your day that align with what you love and also what brings you closer to the life you want.

Artist — Dongkyu Lim

Once you have those, you can easily identify or ‘diagnose’ those parts of your protocol that bring you closer to the life you want and those that don’t. You can then take these and begin to change and tweak them accordingly.

So a personal example of this in practice is my morning routine. Each and everyday, I always try to make time for the following wellness protocols:

0700 — Wake up

0710 — Hot cold shower therapy

0730 — Mixed fruit and veg smoothie

0740 — Red light therapy (a new addition thanks to my wife’s birthday surprise) with meditation / visualization

0800 — Water with added trace minerals and potentially supplements

0815 — Hot bullet proof coffee

Even though this may seem excess and may not be tangible for all on top of regular work and life, in my own personal experience I’ve found that sticking to this morning routine everyday has and will continue to be an important part of my life’s machine, as health and wellness continue to deliver the output I want in life — improved energy levels, concentration, productivity and less sickness.

Alongside this, having routines and protocols in place help you diagnose what works, what doesn’t and how you can improve things to ultimately achieve the life you want.

A note on structure

As mentioned, my rigidity may not be best suited to everyone as everyone operates differently and each persons life machine may look very different. But everyone tends to have some sort of routine they stick by — we’re creatures of habit after all.

So I would encourage you to write down times or moments in your day that bring you closer to the life you want to live and those that don’t. Then begin tweaking and tinkering with your days, weeks, months trying new

Last words

Whilst this specific idea of Dalio’s and his other principles might not be the easiest to implement, I feel that finding ways to apply them in a more practical way, can provide a good starting point and perspective to most people’s work and life. His reflections on things such as transparency and decision-making will be valuable to anyone reading this great book.

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