ali luke is a freelance writer and post-graduate creative writing student. her ambitions have ranged from "ruling the world" (aged three) to "being an astronaut" (aged eleven). "writer" won out for its even greater possibilities.
Here are Ali's "Five Rules For Life":
1.) Get into the history books.
Years ago, as a kid, I read Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfeild. Their birthday vow has always stuck in my mind:
'We three Fossils vow to try and put our names in history books because it's our very own and nobody can say it's because of our grandfathers'.
Ever since, I've wanted to do something which would outlive me. I want my life to impact the world when I'm gone. I'd like to get a footnote in an obscure tome somewhere. I'm driven forwards in life by a desire for significance. I find this is a good way to focus on what matters and avoid getting distracted by endless trivia.
2.) Believe the best of people.
It's easy to go through life making assumptions about other people's motivations. Maybe someone cuts you up in traffic, and you think "what a jerk". A friend snaps at you, and you snap right back.
I believe that people are fundamentally good at heart. I look for reasons why they might have behaved badly; perhaps a stressful day, a hidden disability or illness, or a hard and angry life.
It's noticeable that people often behave how we expect them to. Treat them with love, respect, and compassion and you'll see very different results.
3.) Do the most important thing first.
Have you got a goal or dream? Whether you want to write a novel, train for a marathon, learn Latin or master website design, make this the first thing you do in your day. Steve Pavlina (a well-known self-development blogger and writer) and Mark Forster (a "time coach" and writer) both advise this, and it really works.
Don't leave your dream project until the end of the day, when all your emails are sent, dishes are washed and duties are fulfilled. Put it first. Your dreams and hopes matter: the rest of life can wait for an hour.
4.) Go for a walk.
My one-size-fits-all cure for any kind of negative mood is a walk. If I'm stressed, miserable or moody, a brisk walk invariably calms me down. If I'm stuck on a creative project, walking often gets the ideas flowing. A daily walk is also a great way to keep fit if you're not the gym-going or jogging-round-the-park type.
5.) Escape into a good book.
Everyone should read more fiction. When life isn't going smoothly, escape into a good book. It might be an old childhood favourite, or the latest Booker prize winner. It can be trashy or critically acclaimed.
Let yourself be drawn into another world. A good book can absorb you so completely that you don't notice the trappings of the external world (a great way to mentally escape and create your own "space" on public transport).
The best books will open up your mind to new thoughts - or to thoughts which you believed that only you had - in black and white on the page. The best books will change you, subtly or dramatically, for life.
Ali currently resides in London, United Kingdom.