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We benefit from the experiences of many on this site who have provided us with their hacks. It’s easy, fun, and makes my life a little better. Sometimes I get caught in a receiving mode, waiting for the next hack to come and enhance my life. I sit, waiting for an elegant solution.

Thinking about the word “lifehack” makes me think I shouldn’t be perpetually stuck in this receiving mode (which is why I’m excited about this opportunity to give back). A hack, by definition, is not an elegant solution that efficiently solves my problems. A hack is something quick and dirty to get the job done.

Excuses Not to Develop a Hack

Sometimes I get stuck waiting for an elegant solution before I try anything. The problem is that I don’t know the most efficient method until I actually try something. For example, some say the best way to sleep is for 20 minutes at a time spread throughout the day (polyphasic). Some say it’s best to sleep 8 hours. Some say drink a cup of coffee and take a nap (caffeine nap). With so many conflicting opinions, how do I tell which is best for me?

For all the research I can do, there is no way to tell the best way for me until I actually try something. I fear that if I try and fail, I will have wasted all that time for nothing. What if I gain weight, instead of lose weight? What if I have less energy than before? What if I hurt myself? There are a million excuses not to do something and many are perfectly reasonable, yet I am still stuck doing nothing.

Seeking efficiency and reliability is not the spirit of a hack. A hack is quick and dirty. A hack is a venture into the unknown. It’s learning to do something in a way unintended by the design. It’s far from ideal because it’s engaging reality. Developing a hack is not the most efficient way, but we may discover that it is a better way.

So how do we develop a hack?

Step 1: Be Filled with Wonder

Life is filled with routines that help us efficiently get through the day. We run our own personal programs on autopilot and often ignore everything else. It takes an intention to find something new to break free from our normal cycle.

If you ever watch people on hikes or even just walking by on the street, they are often so focused on their destination that they don’t notice their surroundings. Although, if you are along their path and stop to watch a bird or something interesting, they can break free to see what’s out there.

To develop a hack you must be on the look out for something beyond what you normally see. Question the design. Could it be made better? Can you make it better? Curiosity will naturally lead you down a journey as you seek the answer. It will require effort, but you will be willing to pay the price to see what happens.

Step 2: Be Adventurous

An adventure is about the experience. There is danger and you may fail. Although you may not end up without the desired outcome, you will always have new experiences. If you do not explore, you cannot find your own path. Do you really want to follow someone else’s rules, intentions, life?

Be challenged by the problem. The creation of the hack is just as much about pushing your own boundaries and abilities as it is about the creation for others to enjoy. If you don’t find yourself being engaged by the problem, then it probably isn’t worth your time. The reward of a hack is knowing that you have engaged the unknown and emerged triumphantly.

Explore. Discover your own paths. It may not be the most efficient path, but it will be yours. When you learn to develop your own hacks, you become the designer. You determine your own intentions, rather than following the intentions of others.

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