How to change yourself (v0.1)

There are many other ways to change, but this is the one which is my current best/favorite theory.

1. Complete the sentence: "I am an aspiring ______." Try to find the most succinct identity that represents what you want to change and why. It doesn't have to explain why, or how. Just what! (This identifies the reason you want to change.)

Note: I realize that this first step is not very easy to do. That's intentional. Step #1 will require some thinking to find the right fit for your "lose 5 pounds", "eat better", "quit smoking", "get in shape" goals. Think about the kind of person you want to become that naturally weighs less, eats well, doesn't smoke, is in shape, etc. Make sure that you really do want to be that person. Use this identity as the anchor to pull all of the entangled habits and behaviors into yourself (assume here that you're at the bottom of the ocean and it is difficult to pull things towards you).

2. Update your bios on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and other favorite social networks with the sentence from #1. You don't have to announce anything about it, but it needs to be somewhere that random people can see it. (This makes it feel real.)

3. Craft another sentence describing a 1-month resolution which strategically gets you closer to #1, and has the following constraints:

  • It's only ONE resolution
  • Phrase it in such a way that it is either HIT or MISSED for a given month
  • Make sure that it's calibrated in such a way that if it ends up being HIT, you will be happy with yourself, and if it turns out to be MISSED for the month you'll be unhappy with yourself. Do not make it so easy or so difficult that it's possible to fail at the resolution while still happy that progress has been made, or succeed at the resolution and still be unhappy.
  • Include any footnotes you feel are necessary to say what you think "counts" and what you think "doesn't count" for interpretations of the resolution.

4. Join the Rabbit Rabbit Resolution Accountability Squad mailing list and introduce yourself by stating the answers to #1 and #3. Feel free to ask for help clarifying or zeroing in on what you're really interested in working on. Prepare for friendly feedback from the group, too. Comment on as many threads from other people working on resolutions as you feel comfortable. (This is your accountability.)

5. Set a reminder on your calendar which repeats on the 1st of every month. Everyone on the mailing list will be expected to report in with progress, revise their resolution if necessary, and recommit to the next month. The three outcomes are HIT, MISS, and (if you neglect to check in within 3 days of the beginning of the month) ABSENT. (This helps you remember to remember, which is often the main culprit for failed resolutions.)

Extra credit

6. Start a public countdown on Twitter, Facebook, or your public venue of choice that starts at 1,000. Any time you do something that gets you a small step towards #1, state what you did along with the current number. I've been doing this with my aspiration to be a marathon runner and it's been quite useful as a tool. 1,000 things is a lot, so I allow myself to include things that have a somewhat loose connection to the identity, and at the same time I am okay with missing a day here and there since getting to 0 is going to take a long time anyway. Also, because of the numbers, there will be plenty of significant milestones to celebrate along the way. (This helps you ignore small setbacks and stay focused on the long-term goal.)

Related reading:

To slog successfully toward goals, habits, or a better life: Go slow. Work hard. Avoid shortcuts. Remember to remember. Be kind to yourself.

— Buster (@buster) March 4, 2013