Mind Hacks

What exactly is ‘self-hacking’?


Someone asked me the other day, ‘Sherice, what exactly is self hacking? It’s not some kind of self-mutilation is it?’

Gasp! OMG NO! You’ve heard of Travel Hacking right? No? It’s where you find creative ways to experience the world on a limited budget – well if you replace the word travel with self -ok wait…it’s not that.

Hmm, maybe Life Hacking… You’ve heard of Life Hacking right? No? Well, Life Hacking is the act of making small tweaks to everyday activities in an effort to make them easier and more efficient. Often times this can be computer or desktop related, but… Ok, it’s not quite that either!

So, what exactly is Self Hacking?

To me, Self Hacking is similar to Life Hacking, but instead of small tweaks to everyday activities, those tweaks or Hacking applies to my ‘Self.’ Special tactics and sometimes tricks are employed to make me more effective at improving myself with an emphasis on moving past psychological barriers, hence the necessity of the hacking.

Let me give you a really basic example…I like to go to the gym. Actually, let me clarify that, I (the logical side of me) likes to go to the gym but I (the emotional side of me- let’s call her I-emo), sometimes she doesn’t ‘feel’ like it. The stupid thing is, when I-emo gets to the gym, she feels better. She’s enthusiastic and full of energy. She lifts weights, admires her progress, closes her workout session with some quiet time in the sauna and feels better for it. But yet, when I-emo is sitting at home, her memory tends to recall things like, ‘it’s winter, it’s probably really cold outside’ and ‘oh man, that’s going to take at least 1 1/2 hours out of my day.’ And then, like a stinker, she may end up saying, ‘I don’t wanna go to the gym!’ You’d think that knowing how much she enjoys it, she would want to go, but no dice!

So, what I’ve decided to do with my I-emo is watch her, observe what she responds to and assess the psychological barriers that prevent her from doing what she really wants to do and figure out ways to adjust the circumstances so she can be more consistent. I also consider the things that naturally inspire her, and make an effort to design opportunities to allow her to make the right decision. For example, on Sunday evenings, there’s women- only time at the YMCA, and for some reason, all of the women tend to use the pool. What that means for I-emo is that she ends up with an entire work out area all to herself. The sauna? Empty! The hot tub? Also empty! All good reasons for I-emo to want go to the gym. The result? She’s much more likely to go – that’s one day down.

Another thing that motivates I-emo is being with her husband. Now the funny thing is, in the beginning it was enough for her to go at any time with her husband Nathan, but eventually she and Nathan’s enthusiasm would wane because his I-emo didn’t always feel motivated to go to the gym either–and trying to encourage both hers and his was a lot of work.

So I would proceed to hack again. Now, Nathan knew a thing or two about his I-emo too.  He didn’t necessarily like going to the gym to work out, but to play basketball was a whole other story. Four days a week, pretty much every week, he was there. So I decided to use that to motivate my I-emo. Maybe I-emo didn’t feel like going to the gym, but the idea of going to see Nathan was a lot more exciting. (Come to think of it, it’s probably odd because seeing as we’re co-preneurs we get to see each other all the time – but who cares? It still works LOL).

Now unless something extremely pressing is going on, I-emo has 4 additional opportunities during the week that she’s likely to head to the gym. So instead of arbitrary unplanned times during the week, the plan was to have her meet Nathan after basketball.

And what about those reasons I-emo mentioned that kept her away before?

Since she claimed it was cold, I made sure she had the perfect outfit – leggings, track pants, warm socks, boots, a t-shirt, sweater hoodie, warm jacket, ear muffs and gloves lined with fur and a hat! Now she’s quiet:).

And when the expectation of 1.5 hours is too much to bear, and when I-emo gets stubborn, Tim Ferris taught me a little trick:

Practicing the act of just going to the gym is beneficial for building habits even if you don’t spend a lot of time when you get there.

Tim even sites research from Nike to back it. So this knowledge helped me to create a new expectation for I-emo. You only need to go for 5 mins. So whenever that ‘1.5 hours is too long!’ thought comes up, I’m able to respond, ‘No silly, we just need to go 5 mins.’ To this day, I don’t think I’ve ever gone for just 5 mins! But it’s been enough to get me to go. And the even better part is, in the 4 Hour Body, Tim suggests this workout regimen that I’ve adapted (adopted) so I’m effectively able to get the same ideal results out of my body working out for 20 mins that I got before when I was working out for 1 1/2.

Now, I know this is probably long and my gym story is an overly-simplified explanation but I think you get the drift. It’s basically my process of finding ways to get myself to do what I want to do without being overly forceful and tiring my emotions out. And it just so happens to work for my husband too. He has ADD so I have lots of practice with him, but that’s a whole other story:).

I’ve always been a firm believer in the idea of hacking yourself. After all, if you don’t hack yourself, the hackers will. So, if you’re a good security administrator, you must learn about the various hacking tools that might be used against your environment, become familiar with them, and use them. Roger A Grimes

And this guy isn’t even talking about emotions!



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