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Hacking: Any Different From “Creative Solution”?

Hacking: Any Different From “Creative Solution”?

What is your definition of hacking? What types of hacking are you familiar with? Do you get annoyed when people only take the narrow view of hacking as a negative activity?

I’d like to take a moment to remind everyone of the wholesome origins of hacking, and how the misconceptions of a few journalists can change the meaning of a word worldwide.

Hacker: the loaded word

“A hacker is someone who enjoys playful cleverness—not necessarily with computers. The programmers in the old MIT free software community of the 60s and 70s referred to themselves as hackers. Around 1980, journalists who discovered the hacker community mistakenly took the term to mean “security breaker.” Richard M. Stallman
“Someone who attempts to access secure information over the internet without permission – or someone who likes to customise or recycle computer equipment to invent new things.” BBC Webwise
“Hacking from its beginnings at M.I.T. has always been associated with using technology to subvert institutional systems for personal use”. Dave Wilton

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Bad Hackers…

Think of the word “hacker” and you immediately think of bad stuff happening: computer bugs, server crashes, stolen data, misbehavior in government computer networks. This type of hacking brings to mind immoral individuals or organizations who do this purely for causing a stir, malicious intent, or bringing attention to a security failure. And unfortunately, since so much of our lives are online now, stolen identities and bank hacking is a higher risk than ever before.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rj35GguOAGE

Good hackers…

But then think a little more pragmatically about the word itself. Hacker: to hack; to chip away at something. Think to times before high-tech, and what that would apply to. Woodcutting? Stonework? Very possible. Hammer away at something until the desired result is achieved.

Humans by nature seem to love finding faster and easier ways to get work done. Do we hate working that much? Are we insanely curious about trying new ways of doing everyday stuff, practical or not? Is this what drives our creativity?

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Video: Good” hackers TED talk on what hacking really means

Smart has become the new sexy, and hacker is a sexy and (relatively) new word with a devil-may-care attitude and freedom-fighter mentality attached. Our fresh perspective of the nerd as having a bunch of sweet tricks up his sleeve is almost akin to a magician for the less technologically inclined.

Ironically, not all of these hacks are good. Many new ideas are enthusiastically tried out without thinking of the larger consequences—nuclear energy comes to mind. The discovery of harnessing nuclear power to lower energy costs was fantastic; however, storing toxic waste and maintaining the nuclear facilities has proven to be hazardous and with huge and far-reaching implications.

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Take back hacking!

Hacking is about ingenuity in any walk of life. From reading stories here on Lifehack itself, you expect to find tips on how to make life easier, make life better, and make life more interesting. We all own items that are the result of hacks; in fact, you could argue that all technology and gadgets are based on hacking philosophy. Each new insight into how to execute a marketing campaign in a new way is a hack, in the same way that using red nail polish on a knife to give it a “bloody” effect for a Halloween costume is a hack.

“Growth hacking as a process is simple. It’s finding a problem. It’s testing to optimize. It’s finding what works. That’s it!” Samantha Siow

“Creative solution” or “being entrepreneurial” have replaced hacking in the vocabulary of most because of the distancing people want to make from the computer hackers. We don’t want to be tainted by the malicious intent that the word hacker has become associated with. I feel like somehow we are doing the word a disservice, and we should make an effort to remind the world that hacking is not a bad thing and that we can all be part of the hacker community. Hacking is what we now call critical thinking to find innovative solutions.

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It’s also a lot of fun (see infographic here on some of the BEST lifehacks!)

hackathon-new-york

    “Hackathons” are becoming more and more popular—you’ll find one happening on a weekly basis in any city around the world. They still mainly attract techies, but I highly encourage you to go try them out. Break the hackathons open to everyone, as it should be.

    Take back hacking!

    More by this author

    Andrea Francis

    Andrea loves being productive and getting things done. She shares practical tips to help people achieve what they want in life.

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    Last Updated on June 29, 2020

    How Does Setting Goals Lead to Success?

    How Does Setting Goals Lead to Success?

    As well as being the founder of Lifehack, I also help people on a one-to-one basis through life coaching.

    I’ve been doing this for more than 10 years now and have helped hundreds of clients reevaluate their lives and turn inertia into progress and failure into success.

    A common theme I’ve noticed with many of my clients is that they don’t have any definite goals to aim towards.

    This has always surprised me, as goal setting is frequently recommended by self-improvement gurus, performance coaches, and business leaders. It’s also something that I learned at university and have implemented successfully in my life ever since.

    If you’re similar to the majority of my life coaching clients and you don’t have any definite goals to aim for, then you’re missing out on what is probably the most powerful personal success technique on the planet.

    The good news is—you’ve come to the right place for help with this.

    In this article, I’ll explain exactly what goal-setting is and how you can put it into action in your life. As you’ll discover, it’s a key that can open many doors for you.

    An Introduction to Goal Setting

    Goals can be big, small, short-term, long-term, essential, or desirable. But they all share one thing: They will give you something to aim for.

    This is important. As just like a ship without a destination, if you have no goals, you’ll end drifting aimlessly.

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    Goals give you purpose. They also give you drive and enthusiasm. In other words—they make you feel alive!

    If you’ve never spent time setting goals before, then here’s what I recommend you to do:

    1. Take some time to evaluate all areas of your life (health, career, family, etc.).
    2. Determine which of these areas need a boost.
    3. Think of ways in which to achieve this (for example, if you want to boost your health, you could eat less and exercise more).
    4. Set some definite goals that you would like to achieve.
    5. Write down these goals, including the date you want to accomplish them by.

    Now, before you get started on the above, I want to make one thing clear: Goals are not wishful thinking!

    By this, I mean that while your goals should be ambitious, they shouldn’t be unrealistic or verging into fantasy land.

    For example, wanting to be promoted at work would be a realistic goal while wanting to be President of the United States might not be. (Of course, feel free to prove me wrong!)

    If you’re new to the world of goal setting, then I’d recommend you start with easy-to-achieve goals. These could be things such as eating a healthy breakfast, walking more, taking regular breaks from your screen, and sleeping early.

    These simple goals might take you a month or so to achieve, including making the daily practices a habit.

    Once you’ve successfully accomplished these goals, you’ll find your self-confidence grows, and you’ll be ready to set yourself some bigger goals.

    Here are a few examples that you might want to choose or adapt to your personal circumstances:

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    • Run a marathon
    • Buy a new car
    • Learn a new language
    • Travel around the world
    • Change career
    • Retire early
    • Write a book

    I’m sure you can think of many more things that you would like to achieve. As the famous Shakespeare line neatly states: “The world is your oyster!”

    Now, the trick with big goals (as I’ll show in an example shortly) is to break them down into small, bite-sized chunks. This means you’ll have a big end goal, with smaller goals (sometimes referred to as objectives) helping you to gradually achieve your main aim.

    When you do this, you’ll make big goals more achievable. Plus, you’ll have an easy way to track how far along the road to your goal you are at any given point in time.

    Let’s see this in action…

    Going from an Idea to a Global Success

    Everything starts with an idea.

    And there appears to be no shortage of good ideas in the world. But there is a shortage of people willing to put these ideas into action!

    This is the essential step that will move you from being a dreamer to an achiever.

    Back in 2005, when I first had the idea for Lifehack, I really only considered it to be a platform to record some of my productivity and self-improvement techniques. I’d developed these during my time at university and as a Software Engineer at Redhat.

    However, based on the number of views and positive feedback I received on the first few articles, I quickly realized that Lifehack had the potential to be a popular and successful website—a site that could help transform the lives of people from all across the world.

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    It was at that point that I decided to set some goals in place for Lifehack.

    The way I did this was to set specific targets for different areas of the business:

    1. Number of articles published
    2. Amount of time spent writing and promoting the articles
    3. Number of new readers
    4. Number of new email subscribers
    5. Revenue generated from ads

    For each of the above, I set weekly, monthly, and yearly targets. These targets were realistic but were also ambitious. In addition, I wrote down the necessary steps to take to achieve each target within the specified time frame.

    This goal setting had a powerful impact on my motivation and energy levels. Because I could clearly see what needed to be done to achieve each goal, I found a purpose to my tasks that made them exciting to complete. Each small target achieved took me closer to accomplishing the bigger goals.

    For example, my initial goals for writing articles were for just five a week, which equated to 20 per month and just over 100 per year. However, as I dedicated more and more time to Lifehack, I found I was able to exceed my initial goals.

    This led me to increase the numbers. Of course, there’s a limit to how many articles one person can write. So when the readership began to exponentially increase, I started to hire other writers to help me out with the site’s content.

    From my initial goal of just over 100 articles per year, I’ve used goal setting to help Lifehack publish more than 35,000 articles to date. This is now the largest collection of original self-development articles in the world.

    And in terms of readership—this has skyrocketed from a few dozen in 2005 to several million in 2020.

    And of course, I have many new goals for Lifehack, including expanding our range of online courses.

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    My original goal has always remained the same though: To change people’s lives for the better.

    Goal Setting Can Transform Your Life

    If you haven’t yet experienced the incredible power of goal setting, then now’s the time to get started.

    Build a definite picture of what you want to accomplish, break it down into small, achievable steps, and then start taking action!

    You’ll be able to change all areas of your life using this method, including boosting your health, improving your relationships, and transforming your career. You may also want to use goal setting to start a new hobby or plot a path to a prosperous and peaceful retirement.

    So please don’t wait for success to drop in your lap (which it is highly unlikely to do). Instead, decide on exactly what you want, then make a plan to get it. This is the secret to lifelong success.

    Legendary motivational speaker and author Paul J. Meyer said it well:

    “Goal setting is the most important aspect of all improvement and personal development plans. It is the key to all fulfillment and achievement.”

    Final Thoughts

    Now, let me leave you with five questions that will help you think about your future:

    1. What would you like to be doing in 3, 5, and 7 years?
    2. What things make you happiest?
    3. How can you share your knowledge and experience?
    4. Who can help you achieve your goals?
    5. What would you like to be your legacy?

    Take plenty of time to think about these questions. When the answers come, you’ll be able to start building a picture of how you’d like your life to be—and what goals you need to set to make this picture a reality.

    More Tips on Setting Goals

    Featured photo credit: Jealous Weekends via unsplash.com

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