As a new year falls upon us people quickly learn the difference between goals and resolutions that are created and goals and resolutions that are attainable. Whether it be getting in better shape or to start saving money, making steps towards these goals can be intimidating and we often fail because of not knowing what we’re getting into or how to approach the problem we’re trying to solve. Knowing tips and tricks can help make small progress and relieve pressure you will feel to get something going but these little hacks aren’t always the best way to get things done. There are big and small things we can do to improve our situation and make life goals happen.

A hack in the technology world is a messy or quick fix for something—a MacGyver. It’s a workaround to fix a bug or implement a new feature quickly 1. A hack tweaks code or changes hardware’s ability, stretching it beyond its intention to fix something or to add functionality. Hacks are rarely elegant but that’s not the goal. Hacks are like duct tape; you can create things out of duct tape and improve things with duct tape but it’s likely that the problem could have been better solved using a couple bolts or a weld.

Every situation we want to improve needs a solution. The solution is something you design and create; you make it. Not only do you make the solution, you make it happen. The concept of lifehacking isn’t new but the hard work it takes to truly make your life better is usually ignored. It’s ignored because it’s hard. Really hard. Hacks are popular because you think that by adding some cool apps to your MacBook, using a Grid-It in your bag, or cooking meals in batches and freezing them in little bags labeled by day will improve your life. They might help a bit but they are only part of the solution.

Using a continuous series of hacks is a bit like quickly iterating in the software industry. You try a hack (and maybe call it a feature) to see how it works and if you or your users thinks it’s an improvement, you keep it. You continue the cycle until you have a set of hacks but not a feature set. Duct tape over duct tape. The problem with this type of iteration is that when you are looking too closely at immediate solutions you lose focus on your direction and can easily iterate yourself down the wrong path. When you ‘make’, your choices are deliberate because you are following a blueprint you already set out. You can focus on your solution while keeping in mind how making it relates to greater aspects of life.

These two approaches aren’t exclusive. Hacks can take away some of the pain of getting started and can help you in the process of making. Making is the heavy lifting that is needed to do things properly. You’ll be in better control of your solutions by using a mix of hacks and makes.

Combining hacks and makes is one of the core concepts that I’ll be exploring and writing about here. The hacks might be something you find on Lifehacker or maybe ‘mind hacks’. Maybe I’ll be making (or compiling) real, tangible things or creating in a similar way restrictions or mindsets that are only cerebral. I don’t totally know where this is going but it’s important to me to grow intellectually, stabilize financially, and explore real things that make every day of my life better.

  1. Hopefully you are planning on going back and fixing it soon.↩︎