Hack your life

Fabrice Calando | Hack Your Life Project

One morning in 2011 I was in the shower asking myself the same question so many of us do.

I really don’t want to go to work today, why do I have to?

It’s really not that I didn’t want to work, it was more the idea of having to GO TO work that wasn’t too inspiring. We all go through days where we wish things could be a little different, where everything would be on our terms. In a half-sleep I figured it would be nice to have a day where we do things differently…not complete, drastic changes, but small and meaningful changes that allow us to live our life a little more on our terms.

In other words, a hack-your-life day.

Naturally, I shared the idea on Twitter and Facebook. Frédéric Harper wrote back…interested. We planned to met-up to talk about the idea further which really forced me to think the idea through. First thing I did was turn to Wikipedia to find the definition of hacking and it fit perfectly with what I had in mind. A hacker is

[a] person who enjoys exploring the details of programmable systems and stretching their capabilities, as opposed to most users, who prefer to learn only the minimum necessary.

Once you realize that your life is a system made up by “people who are no smarter than you” as Steve Jobs put it, you realize you can hack it…stretch it’s capabilities to achieve new results. But why don’t we hack it? I think we go through our day-to-day because we’re afraid. Afraid of what would happen if we did things differently. Afraid of actually having to do something. As Julien Smith put it in his latest book, we flinch. Flinch at the idea of what could happen.

Instead of getting up early to go to work, why not ask to work from home one day? Only one day…what’s so scary about that?

So then the goal of Hack your life would have to be to stretch your life’s capabilities and not necessarily to get you to quit your job, start a business or travel the world (if that’s the consequence, then congrats!). It’s to learn more than only the minimum necessary.

The challenge

After thinking and reviewing the project, I’ve determined that a day wasn’t enough. So I’ve decided on The Hack Your Life Project. It will consist of a series of challenges that I’ll take throughout the year (52 challenges to be exact). The goal will be to get me comfortable with change and uncertainty and will push me to not accept the “system” as is. In other words, fight the flinch response, explore the details of the programmable system of day-to-day life and stretching its capabilities. I’m not sure what the end result will be or what will happen at the end of 2012 (maybe the project will never end), but at the very least, I’d like to eliminate feelings like I had that morning in 2011.

Each week, I’ll set out a challenge and report on the previous. Details might change along the way, but that’s the gist of it.

Follow along

It’s really a personal project, but if you want to join and even recommend challenges, you’re more than welcome. I would be honored. I’d love to have you on board. Some challenges will be easy, others harder. Some will last a day, others more. There are common themes to a lot of challenges such as decluttering, learning, comfort zones, etc, but there really is no process. Challenges will come in no particular order.

If you want to follow along, you can subscribe to [fabricecalando.com] by email and get up dates in your inbox (that’s the general feed for the blog, so if you’re already signed-up, you’re already set to receive them). You can also follow along on Twitter with the hashtag #HYLP (Hack Your Life Project). On the other hand, if you want to take part, all I ask is that you tell us how things are going here in the comments. You can follow my challenges or your own…it’s up to you.

HYLP Challenge #1: Get rid of excess clothing

A great way to start this off is by ridding myself of excess clothing. So over the next week, I’ll go through my wardrobe and get rid of all the stuff I don’t wear. If it’s still wearable, it’ll go to charity, if it isn’t, it’s going in the trash.


It’s an easy challenge on the surface, but some stuff has meaning attached to it — it reminds me of trips, events and people — so I think getting rid of some stuff will be hard, but I must declutter. We all attach significance to stuff like clothes. All that really does is keep part of us in the past. We keep stuff we don’t wear or use because, on some level, it keeps us secure. It’s not a far stretch to figure out why we then keep jobs we don’t like…they make us feel safe (until the prospect of being laid off arises). Learning to get rid of useless stuff is important and teaches to live with insecurity.

I’m getting rid of clothes I’ve kept, but really we all hold on to a whole lot more than that…

(Photo credit: Sébastien Boileau-Picard)