Change Your Password and Change Your Life

You type your password how many times a day? You’re doing it anyway. Here’s a way to make it work double time for you.

For years I’ve done a version of this. But this guy got it right. Mauricio Estrella used his computer password as a tool to create change in his life. In summary every 30 days he changed his password as a trigger for a specific goal he wanted to achieve. Starting with forgiving his very recently ex wife. He typed out the reminder Forgive@h3r multiple times per day. You can read about all the other changes he made in his life with this simple strategy here.

Before you go thinking that’s just magical thinking it’s not. It is a harnessing of the natural problem solving power of your brain. Where Mauricio got it right and where I got it wrong is he got specific. His list of passwords represent very clear, specific and measurable goals. Forgiver her, save for trip, ask her out, save for ring. Before I read this article mine tended to be airy fairy non specific things like Abundance10! or Thrival12!

circle with gap, change password change your lifeAbundance and Thrival while awesome things to have in your life but are too abstract for the brain to generate real concrete change. There isn’t a clear gap between a point A and a point B. What Mauricio did was he created a problem for his brain to solve. Our brains do not like incompletions or gaps. Like this image. Our brains will naturally try to fill in the gap in the circle.

For example if your password is 3arn$10KeachMonth and you are not currently earning $10K each month, the multiple reminders you get each day of that goal by typing your that password will bother that little OCD part of your brain that likes things to match up. It will get busy solving that problem. I can tell you from experience. No that is not my password.

However, as soon as I read Mauricio’s story I changed my password to a specific financial goal. Already I’m finding myself spotting opportunities to make progress towards that goal. I’m finding myself making the decisions that increase my chances of making that goal. This is isn’t woo woo magic thinking. It’s harnessing the way our brains naturally work.

It’s time to trot out the good old SMART goals. This one is still hanging around because it’s true. Though there is one thing they leave out.

S is for Specific

For this to work your password needs to encapsulate something that is specific. That’s why my big picture vague concept passwords didn’t work. Be as specific as possible. Pick one specific thing. Don’t worry about all the others. You’ll get to them, or not if they don’t turn out to be that important. Getting at least one thing done is better than circling around in the eddy.

M is for Measurable

Remember make it measurable. Don’t just “earn more”. Earn a specific amount. “More” is vague an abstract and so slips right off the brain.

A if for Attainable

Don’t be absurd. Don’t set the goal to suddenly earn 10x what you are now. Set your goal for something that is a stretch but possible. You can always up the bar next month.

R is for Responsibility

Uh, you. You are taking responsiblity for your own life that’s why you’re playing this password game

T is for Time

This is built into this exercise of changing passwords every month. You’ve got 30 days to get it done!

One thing the SMART Goals Leave Out

In his list of life changing passwords Mauricio failed at just one:

  • Forgive@her (to my ex-wife, who started it all.)
  • Quit@smoking4ever (It worked.)
  • Save4trip@thailand (It worked.)
  • Eat2times@day (It never worked, still fat.)
  • Sleep@before12 (It worked.)
  • Ask@her4date (It worked. I fell in love again.)
  • No@drinking2months (It worked. I feel better.)
  • Get@c4t! (It worked. I have a beautiful cat.)
  • Facetime2mom@sunday (It worked. I talk with my mom every week.)

Do you notice the difference between that goal and all the others?

He tried to solve the bigger goal of losing weight by pre selecting the action that would achieve that goal. Fitness & health professionals are probably screaming at the computer that eating two times a day is not the way to lose weight. Had he selected a goal such as lose 50 pounds or, following his other pattern of goals, used the password Exercise2x@day he would probably be a sleek gazelle by now. His brain would have found a myriad of ways to reach that goal. Instead he blocked all those other possible solutions by picking the one he thought would work

Trust your brain. It is an amazing problem solving machine.

Photo: Flickr