He he, hacking passwords... sorry, this post is not about techniques for breaking into other people's accounts. This post is about a life hack a coworker of mine recently included in a presentation. I thought it was quite good, and found my inner self compelled to share it with you. I also thought putting "hacking passwords" in the title would be clever... please correct me if this is not so.

Anyways, my coworker's talk was on improving productivity. One of the tips was called "Go Stuart Smalley on your password". For those who do not already know the reference, Stuart Smalley is a character created by Al Franken for the show Saturday Night Live, He is a bit of a caricature of a self-help guru, and is famous for his portrayal of daily affirmation... "Because I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and doggone it people like me..."

I've had an interest in daily affirmations since reading Scott Adams' book, How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big. I really enjoy the way Scott hypothesizes that affirmations may be a way to break into the source code of the mind and reprogram things. I tried them for a bit, but failed to stick with it.

My coworker's tip was to use an affirmation for a password, allowing you to pick up work on a high note. I found this to be quite a novel concept considering password entry is, at least for me, a small, frustrating task I have to deal with every day. Hacking this process to improve your life is, at least to my mind, something worthy of consideration. Furthermore, using a full affirmation as a password will probably leave you with one of the most secure passwords you've ever had.

These affirmations may be positive thoughts about yourself, IAmAn@wesomeDeve1oper, IRock@Programming, etc, but I think a more powerful tactic would instead target something you want to achieve within a relatively short period of time. Doing so takes advantage of company policies of changing your passwords every 90 days or so. IWillWriteAnE-book, IWillLoose10Pounds, or IWillRunA10k are all things come to mind as short-term goals you could focus on for the duration the password. You could even pair this with the common strategy of increment a number within your password.. IWillRun1MileAWeek, IWillRun2MilesAWeek, IWillRun3MilesAWeek... increasing it every time your password expires.

Re-framing life's little annoyances is a powerful thing. Next password change I'm going to give this little hack a try. It leaves me wondering what other little things I've been annoyed with everyday that I could use to improve my life.