Kayla Benson lives in Denver, Colorado with her boyfriend and her dachshund, Penny Lane. The three of them enjoy being out and about in their beautiful city, red wine and documentaries of all kinds. Kayla is an account manager at a software company by day, and works in concert venues by night. In her (small amount of) free time, she writes, paints, and dreams of one day going back to school for her Masters and her PhD so she can become a professor.
2014 was the year of the “hack” –style and beauty hacks, cooking hacks, relationship hacks, life hacks. The internet was your go-to if you were looking for 100 hacks using coconut oil, 10 life hacks to have a better workday or anything in between. You name it, and with a few taps of your touchscreen, you could find tips and tricks for a better, faster or more efficient way of doing nearly anything imaginable. But this begs the question, is there actually a hack for everything? Even if there is a hack, should we really use it?
In other contexts, the term “hack” evokes images of computer game cheat codes, manipulating computer networks, and (even scarier) hackers accessing credit card and other personal information. To some, it means a lack of quality, a band-aid rather than a real solution to a problem, or even botched work (a hack job). By this definition, it’s hard to believe that the large and diverse group that is the internet community would find a “hack” to be an acceptable solution.
There’s certainly no harm in saving some cash with a home improvement hack aimed at replicating a piece of fine furniture with items you have at home and a little paint. But here comes the harsh reality: you can’t hack everything. There’s not a list of three things you can say to your boyfriend to make him propose. There are no five things you can do every morning that are guaranteed to make you happy. Some things in life can only be achieved if you give them your time and energy in earnest.
So, at the risk of sounding like a hypocrite, here is the one hack you need to know: how to hack a hack. The one and only way to hack a hack is to use your noggin. Make sure that your intentions are to find the best and most productive ways of doing something and then think about whether it makes sense in your life. This means having genuine conversations with your significant other instead trying to manipulate communication by saying the “right” thing. This means going out and finding five things you can do that will make you happy, instead of passively accepting what the worldwide web tells you will make you happy. It means skimming past the hacks about how to eat a piece of fruit correctly (mildly interesting but useless) and the ones about how to make parenting a breeze (unrealistic). It might even mean skimming past the ones about your DIY coffee table if what you really truly want is the one you see in the store window. The dawn of the hack should not mean neglecting to do things in the manner that’s right for you, in your home, at work, in your relationships, and elsewhere.
One great thing about people is that we’re always working toward improving. One great thing about the Internet is that it has become a forum for sharing ideas on how to do so. As we enter 2015, let’s make this new year the one where we didn’t lose sight of doing things the best way possible for ourselves. Some things (your relationships and your career, for instance) deserve more than a simple hack. They deserve your time and your energy, and if you invest it, your life can only improve as a result.