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The Rule of Three


Omne Trium Perfectum. Literally translated to mean ‘Everything that comes in threes is perfect’, or, every set of three is complete. For thousands of years, the rule of three has maintained unique significance and is still practised frequently across a variety of domains in life. Just think:  


  • Rock, paper, scissors. 

  • Blood, sweat, and tears. 

  • The good, the bad, the ugly. 

  • The beginning, the middle, the end. 

  • Sex, drugs, and rock’n’roll

  • Veni, vidi, vici

  • Past, present, and future. 

  • The three wise men with three gifts

  • Hip-Hip-Hooray

  • The Three Little Pigs

  • Slip-Slop-Slap

  • Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner

  • Lights, Camera, Action!

  • Tom, Dick, and Harry

  • Mind, body, and soul

  • Gold, silver, and bronze 

  • Egos, Logos, Pathos

  • Three strikes you’re out

  • Ready, Set, GO!

  • Live, Laugh, Love


I’m sure you could add even more to this list. The point is - the rule of three is present everywhere, and here’s why: it’s the smallest number necessary to form a pattern and our brains LOVE patterns. We humans have become amazingly proficient at being able to find and focus on them. Plus, the verbal cadence of anything said in threes creates the perfect combination of catchy and concise. It’s no wonder this magic number makes our brain tingle.


We can employ the rule of three to a powerful effect in our own lives, too. By utilising the brain's principal processing feature, pattern seeking, we can subconsciously ‘prime’ our mind to prioritise progress towards our goals. 


The beginning of a new year is a time where many of us want to start fresh with resolutions or goals that will allow us to live happier, healthier, and more fulfilling lives (see what I did there?). But, where do we start? How do we decide what to focus on when we’ve already got so much going on? The feeling that you have to do it all can lead to paralysing overwhelm and permanent procrastination.

So,  for twenty-twenty three, I’d like to propose a challenge. Start by choosing 3 areas of your life that are the most important  - areas that you most want movement in. Once you decide the three things you want development and improvement on in your life, for the next 3 months (yes - 3 again), take just one small action each day to move the needle in those areas in a forward direction. 


What this may look like is saying “For the next 3 months, I want to develop my brain, my body, and my business.” To take steps towards those goals, one day, I might listen to a podcast on parenting, go for a swim in the ocean, or update my LinkedIn profile. The next day, I might learn 5 new words in Japanese, drink 2 glasses of water, or sort out my overflowing email inbox. This is just my own example - yours might be ‘Music, Money, and Mobility’ where you focus on finding groovy new tunes, saving money for a holiday, and improving your flexibility, or it might be ‘Read, Rest, and Relationship’ where you focus on getting through your unread book collection, going to sleep at a more reasonable time, and improving communication in your relationship.


Of course, you don’t have to use the same starting letter for all three. I just like it - it makes it cute and catchy, but the main objective is to make it into a kind of a personal motto for the way you want to live your life, at least for the next 3 months. It can shine a light onto the things that matter most and help us to remember that if we want change, action is necessary. The rule of three can help inspire movement towards your mission in a memorable and meaningful way. 


Once you’ve decided on your three for 2023, put it on a vision board or write it on your bathroom mirror. Post it on a sticky note beside your phone charger or have it printed on a custom coffee cup. You often hear ‘out of sight, out of mind’ but the opposite is also true. 


If we can move the needle just a little bit in one of those 3 areas everyday, I wonder how things will be in 3 months?


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