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Don’t Try Any Hacks Until You Do This First

We all like easy solutions to our problems. A special tip or a few basic steps, and boom – problem solved. These kinds of solutions, collectively known as hacks, are so in right now.

The internet is full of ideas for hacks – career hacks, productivity hacks, happiness hacks, decluttering hacks, sleep hacks (to name a few). The lists go on and on.

There doesn’t appear to be an area of our lives that isn’t hackable, according to the internet. A quick google search for life hacks reveals a whopping 384 million results.

Why are hacks so popular? They offer the promise of simple and quick techniques for accomplishing goals. When you’re stuck at point A and you really want to get to point B, it’s appealing to learn that you can get there with a few easy steps. From changing careers to organizing your garage, the message is: you’re only a few hacks away from success.

If only.

The idea of a short cut to success is tempting. And sometimes, a simple hack is all you need. Like, if you’re working at your desk and want to prop up your cell phone, just grab a couple of binder clips. Voila! Instant phone stand. Hacks like these are fun, clever solutions to relatively simple problems.

But when it comes to more substantial life challenges – say, you want to develop healthier habits or you want to live a more fulfilling life – hacks are the wrong place to start.

The thing you need to understand about hacks is that they’re all about strategy. They focus on taking action, prescribing what to do and how to do it. That’s why hacks are so useful for simple problems.

But substantial life challenges are a different story.

When you set a big goal, it’s understandable to want to start taking steps immediately to reach that goal. But goals are about more than the desired outcome – they’re about who you become in the process of attaining them.

The person you will be at the end of the process is not the same as the person you are now. You will face obstacles that you haven’t faced before. You will stretch beyond your comfort zone. You will grow.

The key to successfully navigating this process of change and growth is attending to your mindset first.

(Did you just groan?)

Mindset isn’t exciting. It isn’t sexy. It’s the stuff that people avoid looking at and want to skip past to get to the action-taking place, but it’s a big deal.

Mindset is comprised of the thoughts and beliefs that define who we are and what we think we’re capable of. It’s the part of ourselves that can lift us up and keep us going; and it’s the part that can cut us down, hold us back and keep us playing small in our lives.

Hacks are way more fun. They make us feel like we’re making forward progress. They show the world that we’re going for it.

But if you jump into hacks before cleaning up your mindset, you’re going to run into the same patterns, habits, and resistance that got you into the situation you want to change in the first place.

If you want to be more productive, for example, all the productivity hacks in the world aren’t going to help until you get to the root of why you procrastinate.

Or if you want a neat and tidy garage, all the decluttering hacks in the world won’t help until you get to the root of why you’ve been holding on to too much stuff.

If you’re serious about creating a foundation for growth to achieve your goals, where do you begin? Mind the gap.

The gap is the space between where you are and where you want to be. Meaning, more specifically, who you are and who you want to be.

Your starting point is to ask yourself:

  • What would it be like to be the person who does what I want to do?

  • What does this person do?

  • What does this person say?

  • What does this person think?

  • What doesn’t this person do, say and think?

(Hint: probably not the same as you.)

Take some time with these questions. Your answers will reveal the gap and illuminate the thoughts and beliefs that are helping you – or hurting you – as you strive to achieve your goal. Cleaning up your mindset is the key to preparing for successfully taking action.

If you really want to succeed, set aside all the tips, tricks, and endless lists of hacks (for now). Mindset is the place to start. It’s here that you create a solid foundation for becoming the you who learns, grows, and reaches the goals of your dreams.

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