The north star or Polaris has been a guiding light for navigators for centuries.
Lost in the jungle, without a compass or GPS?
Locate this star in the night sky, and you'll get a rough sense of all four directions from your location.
Although the north star serves the purpose of providing a physical direction, we can also extend its value to our life.
By having some guiding principles or a symbolical north star in your life or business.
Let's take Hulry as an example:
When I started this blog two years ago, I had set some clear guiding principles that I follow to this date:
- Quality over quantity. Never publish any content just for the sake of publishing. Always ask: Is this blog post going to help someone?
- Reading experience over revenue. Don't sacrifice the reader's experience to squeeze in extra income. No littering the site with ads. No obtrusive popups that interrupt the readers while reading.
- Relatable and actionable. Always find ways to connect philosophies and techniques to real-life use cases and make the advice actionable. The reader should be clear about the next steps at the end of each article.
These three guiding principles, or my north star for this project, have helped me maintain a high-quality standard for all products in this Hulry project, value my reader's attention and time, and steer away from insensible growth hacks.
And the north star method isn't limited to business or projects.
You can apply it to almost anything in life.
Here's one that I follow in my professional career:
Mental sanity before money.
For the last few years, I've always prioritised jobs that offered acceptable work-life balance over high-performance, always-on jobs that offered more money.
I've lived that life, and it's no fun to sacrifice family time or personal space for extra cash or stock options.
On the personal finance side, here's my north star:
Debt is only acceptable when you can pay it back without splitting your hair.
There's no shortage of things to buy, and banks are always at your doorstep to offer money to buy those things.
Taking on so much debt that 60–80% of your take-home income goes into paying off your loans makes your finances fragile.
There isn't much money left for your hobbies, travel, or future savings.
And the stress that comes from owing people money when your income fluctuates or goes to zero due to a job loss can be debilitating.
With this financial north star in mind, I borrow only what I can pay back in an amount that doesn't ruin my financial stability.
We're bombarded with so many micro-decisions every single day.
To buy that new car or not?
To ship a haste-made product or not?
And so much more.
When you set a north star principle for each area of your life, it becomes easier to make the right decisions and not spiral into a rabbit hole of bad choices.
Identify 3–5 significant areas of your life.
It can be your career, relationships, finances, and others.
Imagine an ideal situation for you in each of these areas.
For example, if you're a freelancer, an ideal arrangement might be only to take on reputable clients who cause fewer headaches and pay you on time.
With this guideline as your north star for that corner of your life, every time you need to make a choice, it's there to guide you towards the right one.
If you have 15–30 mins right now, try setting at least one north star principle.
Or do it over the weekend if you can't spare time now.
You'll have an invisible mentor ready to guide you every step of the way.