Skip to main content

Hack Yourself First - the Life Hack that Changes Everything

If you start looking for hacks to make your life simpler and happier in the wrong places, you will accomplish the exact opposite of what you hope. You will spin out on solutions to problems you don’t have. You will waste energy trying to feel good about accomplishments that don’t matter to you. You’ll quit because it didn’t work.

Shortcuts are good for two things: finishing faster or having more fun. 

When we drive from Grand Rapids to Chicago for a fun weekend in the city we usually want to get there as quickly as possible so the fun can begin. Extra time spent wandering through Gary, Indiana in the car isn’t tempting when deep dish pizza and a show are waiting for us in Chicago. We want to shave time off the trip any way we can. We’re looking for a time-saving shortcut, an efficiency hack. 

You can only find a shortcut to an actual destination. Until we’ve set a course to Chicago, there’s no way to find a quicker path. Before I know I want to have a garden, it’s silly to figure out who has seeds on sale and how to choose the right location in my yard. Until you decide you want a master’s degree you won’t be saving yourself any time by mapping out the fastest route to the college.

Thinking about those things before you actually decide to do them isn’t wrong or pointless. It’s just not a hack. It’s dreaming. Efficiency hacks have to come after a direction is set. You can’t get nowhere faster.

Some hacks are about efficiency, some are about happiness.

The truth is, even on the shortest route possible, Chicago requires a solid three hours in the car from my driveway to city center. We could stare out the windows in silence for those 180 minutes…or we could employ life hacks that infuse a necessary job with extra fun. We play games, listen to podcasts, read books, and talk. We pack Funyuns and cans of pop. When a necessary job looks boring, we bring the fun, a happiness hack.

I don’t really have a choice about whether I do certain tasks that are, by nature, boring. Laundry, emptying the dishwasher, homework - they all have a tendency to feel like pure drudgery. Until I employ a magic life hack that marries duty to pleasure. 

So the very first, most important step to finding hacks with the power make your life happier and more productive is to have some ideas about where your life is heading. What matters to you? What hats are you wearing every day? What roles are you juggling? What dreams do you have for the future? What catches your attention and makes you want more? What do you wish you had more time and energy for?

We make this process hard on ourselves by making it bigger than it needs to be. You don’t need a fully developed life plan or goal sheet to be able to start finding shortcuts that make sense for you. You just need to know yourself well enough to be able to talk about yourself like you would a friend. 

Hi, I’m Lori. 

  • I love twist soft-serve with rainbow sprinkles but I don’t like Twizzlers, even though all my friends do. 

  • I have eight kids, two daughters in law, three grandkids, one husband, and a dog. 

  • I want to create a home and family life that welcomes people in and inspires them to believe in their dreams.

  • I love Jesus. God’s word is the truest thing I’ve ever discovered.

  • I crave tidy, cleared-off spaces. They help me think and breathe.

  • I don’t want to spend my life being a maid.

  • I love the way sunshine feels on my skin.

  • Hiking is the best.

  • I’m a sucker for a well-told story - written or audio.

  • I love finding more efficient ways to do things and think systems are cool.

  • I love sleeping in and staying up late.

  • I'm a terrible dancer.

  • Dogs are by far my favorite animal.

  • Black is my favorite color. White and pink are second and third.

  • I love traveling and I love staying home.

  • I love coffee and home-made whip cream.

Knowing these things about myself gives direction to the cool ideas I find on Pinterest. I stop scrolling at posts about packing for a week in a carry-on and beautiful quotes of deep thoughts. A sale on bulk Twizzlers? I scroll right past. Or forward it to my girlfriends. Knowing myself is the filter that makes the bounty of the Internet useful instead of an avalanche I get buried under.

Can you give me a quick ten bullet points about yourself right now? If you can, your filter is working. If not, you need to grab a cup of coffee and stare into space for a while so you can put words to the things about you that have been buried beneath a busy life. 

Start with ten bullet points but don’t stop there. Every day is a new opportunity to understand yourself better and build a stronger, more useful filter. Cultivate the habit of noticing yourself and being curious.

What makes your eyebrows knit together? What foods make it impossible for you to resist seconds? Which jeans make you feel comfortable all day. What makes you love cooking dinner, what makes you hate it? Which room in your house do you sit down in most often? Do you change your earrings every day or put a favorite set in and wear them for a month? Do you have kids? Do you want kids someday? 

After you begin to notice yourself more, learn to ask the next questions - Why? Or What’s that about? What is it about these jeans that makes me choose them every time they are clean? Why am I drawn to the fireplace room every time I want to relax. Why do I hate doing laundry so much?

The more you know yourself, the more you’ll hone in on the life hacks and shortcuts that have the potential to mean the most to your real, actual life.

Hacking yourself is the first hack that changes everything.

Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner


  1. Beautiful! Fun and engaging, I loved your insights on how knowing ourselves better in a really practical way can make life easier and more joyful--and I totally agree! I'm going to go bullet point myself as a refresher!

    1. Anything that makes life easier and more joyful seems like a win to me! Thanks for reading!


Post a Comment

I'd love to hear what you think!

Popular posts from this blog

What You Need, When You Need It - The Glorious Table

We ate steak at the fanciest place in town, me and my sister, our husbands, and our parents. Around the table, we joined Mom’s reminiscing. We retold our favorite stories of family vacations and holidays. We revealed some silly childhood secrets. And we listened to Mom’s stories from fifty years she and Dad spent together. One of our favorite stories is of the birthday Mom expected a diamond ring but went home from their swanky dinner with a shiny new set of hot rollers. Whenever Mom tells that story, instead of making fun of Dad for his slow-moving ways, she praises his serious, methodical decision making. She points to it as proof of his dependability. My mom told stories. I told stories. My sister told stories. Even our husbands had memories to share. We retold some of the stories Dad put on paper in his journal for us. The thing we missed most was Dad’s voice in the storytelling. Rather than telling the stories himself, he locked eyes on the teller and responded, “By golly, that ha

Project Hopeful Guest Post #2

I'm writing for Project Hopeful again today.  We've been very busy in Ethiopia meeting some incredible people!  Please join us! Enter your email address: Delivered by FeedBurner

It's About Who We Are, Not What We Do - The Glorious Table

Living just four blocks down the street from my best friend made it easy to share clothes, secrets, and families. We could be found within a close radius of her backyard pool most summer days. The rhythm of our summer days revolved around Gretchen’s dad’s third-shift work schedule. During the morning hours, the house needed to stay dark and quiet, so we picked peppermint leaves to chew, painted our nails, and read books. Not long after lunchtime, Mr. Liddell would wake up, which paved the way for our favorite summer activity: synchronized swimming routines. We practiced and laughed until we felt ready for an audience. Gretchen’s dad always stopped mid-project to be amazed by our mildly in sync pool programs. He clapped and went back to work while we kept playing. His presence was as steady as the summer sun. He wasn’t merely my friend’s dad; he was a comfortable, expected constant in my life. The familiarity born by all those shared moments made his cancer diagnosis particularly awful