Life device drivers are fundamental for a smooth social interaction. They’re the invisible layer which allows us to have a proper interaction with various social interfaces, like a job or a family. Oh, you don’t know what a life device drivers is? No problem, this is exactly what you’re going to find out in this article. But before we dive in, let me tell you that this is the second follow-up to my first article using a computer metaphor to describe self-improvement. You may want to have a look at it first: Are You The Best Version Of Yourself?. And you could also check out the first follow up in this series: How To Defrag Your Mind In 5 Eay Steps.
What Is A Life Device Driver?
Well, it’s just like a software driver, only it’s for your day to day life. I bet you wouldn’t think at that, right? 😉 Now, seriously, continuing our computer-human parallel, a life device driver would be described as a set of procedures one uses to manage a certain context at a very low level. The driver should also be used to enforce a certain result upon using that context. Sounds much more complicated than it is.
For example, if we’re talking about computers, a printer driver would let your computer communicate with your printer in order to print documents. The expected result would be the transfer of an image from your computer screen to a piece of paper. Subsequently, a marriage life driver would let you function in an almost automated way as husband and wife. The expected result would be an ongoing partnership which will allegedly make your life easier.
Of course, neither printing or marriage are always creating the expected result. Hence, the constant need to improve their drivers.
Habits, Skills and Life Device Drivers
Drivers are using very low-level programming interfaces. They’re built to access directly the most intimate parts of your computer: interruptions, memory buses and so on. In some respects, they’re like habits: once implemented, you’re using them transparently. Subsequently, once you installed a life device driver you’re just using it and don’t bother about how to talk with the partÂ you want to manage. But in fact life device drivers are much more complex than a simple habit.
The difference between a mere habit and a life device driver is quite simple: besides the fact that the life device driver should be very low-level, close to the core of your behavior, it should always end with a predictable result. For instance, if you have the habit of taking a nap every afternoon, that wouldn’t be a life device driver, because the expected result will vary drastically. Some afternoons you’ll be fine while others will make you feel like crap. If any of you ever wanted to implement the habit of taking a nap during afternoons, then you know what I mean.
Skills, on the other hand, are essential to life drivers. If you learn a new language, for instance, every time you communicate in that language you will generate an expected result: the other guy will understand what you’re saying. Provided that there aren’t significant bugs in your foreign language driver.Â Other examples are: managing your job with a solid set of skills (both technical and social), managing a personal relationship or creating and maintaining a hobby (like travel, for instance).
Life device drivers are just very specific skills, implemented as habits.
Managing Your Real Life Peripherals
If life drivers are skills implemented a habits, what are they actually driving? What is the equivalent of peripherals in our human-computer parallel? We know what a peripheral is for a computer: a printer, a monitor or a keyboard. But in real life?
A life peripheral is an external context in which you want to express yourself. Being married, that’s something that could be called a life peripheral: you do want to express yourself within this context, but it’s not part of your core. You are a complete individual without being forced to be part of a marriage and many of us are functioning like this. Not every computer does have a printer and not every human being wants to be married.
Another peripheral would be a job. For many of us, a job is just an external interface. A context in which we are performing a certain number of tasks and at the end of the week we enjoy the expected result: money. A personal hobby, like traveling, would be another example. You acquire a set of skills (like foreign languages, for instance) and then implement them as habits (doing that constantly).
So, managing your life drivers means acquiring new skills and then maintaining them in the form of habits. Every once in a while, you will need to upgrade your life device drivers, of course.
Still with me? Good.
Why Do You Need To Upgrade Your Life Drivers
Every time you reach a new level in your life you need to upgrade your drivers. You need to be sure you have the right skills and put them to work on auto-pilot in order to perform well on the new interface. Otherwise there will be hick-ups. The expected results will be delayed or even null. You will spend a lot of time debugging your specific life drivers instead of just doing what you have to do.
Every time you enter a new relationship or get a new job, you need to upgrade your drivers. You need to reassess your role in the new relation or acquire new skills for the new job. Failing to do this will put you in the very frustrating state of having a beautiful printer, or camera, or other gizmo and not being able to use it, by lack of the appropriate drivers. And we all know how frustrating that can be.
Entering a new stage in your life without a proper life driver could even result in a frozen computer, or a need for a reboot. Your new job may look and feel great and even give you an underlying feeling of personal progress, but the lack of a proper driver for your new context could lead to a serious life crisis. And if in the geek’s world we know it’s always segmentation’s fault, in this case there’s nobody else to blame for forcing a cold reset, than yourself.
How To Upgrade Your Life Drivers
If you ever had to attach a new peripheral to your computer (a printer, or a camera, or something like this), you’ll find the next steps surprisingly familiar. If not, well, you’ll be in a better position to do this when you’ll have to. Here are 5 steps in which you can upgrade your life drivers whenever your life peripherals are changing.
1. Identify The New Peripheral
Most of the time, this step is obvious: you’ll know when you’ll get married (or at least I hope so, for your own good) or when you get a new job. But there will be times when you won’t exactly know what are the peripherals you want to manage.
For instance, you may want to enrich your social life. But, as real as the inner need may be, this s a very vague definition for a peripheral. Hard to identify it in the form of a manageable device. You can have a better and more fulfilling social life in a million ways. This is why is important to know very well what exactly are you looking for. In some situations the new peripheral could be identified as: a new group of friends. Or: a new group of like-minded people for exchanging ideas. Or: a support group for my public speaking skills.
Once identified, go to the next step.
2. Identify The Expected Result
Now, if you know what you are attaching to your life, it’s time to decide how exactly you want it to work for you. For computers peripherals, this is generally easier, because they come with some specs. A camera should capture frames at a certain frame per second rate, a printer should print at a certain resolution and so on. For life peripherals, things are a little bit fuzzier.
If you’re attaching a new job into your life, you do have a little bit more freedom to decide how exactly it could work. You may negotiate the number of hours you spend, the number and quality of skills involved and then make a specific request. The other part should offer you money, a decent work place, and so on. Now you made your own specs. The same goes for a marriage (more or less, to be honest) and for a personal habit.
It’s important to remember that on this step, a little bit in contrast with a computer setup, you have enough freedom to create your life device specs on demand. You decide what the expected result of using the new interface will be. But it’s also important to understand that you can also change the specs on the go. For a computer, usually this is happening only with a hardware upgrade.
3. Identify The Low-level Access Routines
Now you know exactly what you’re attaching to your life, you know the expected result, all you have to do is to start putting together the pieces. You will start to actually create your new driver. The equivalent for the geeks world will be the analysis stage. You start looking around for technology and choose a programming language. You make all sort of diagrams and workflows, which in a non-geeky, normal language should translate as: you’re imagining your new life in that new context.
In this stage of upgrading your life device drivers you’re creating and incorporating new skills. If the new job requires some training, you’re attending classes. If the new relationship requires some new adjustments (ok, you’re moving together, who’s going to do the dishes?) you’ll start identifying them. This stage is, like I said, analysis-driven, rather than actionable. You’re contemplating your next life device driver.
4. Program And Implement The New Driver
This is the step where you start “writing code”. You have the main architecture of your life device driver, hopefully you already acquired (or upgraded) the necessary skills, all you have to do is to freeze them in new habits. This is also the most difficult to implement, because creating new habits is usually a tedious task.
For instance, if you lived alone for 20 years, and your new relationship is upgrading to a “”living together stage” you will find it very difficult to change some of your habits. Maybe you have a morning routine in which you’ll have to incorporate a new person (ok, who’s going to use the bathroom first? And for how long?) or maybe you’re having a poker night with the guys every Thursday (and you’re really going to miss that, believe me 😉 ).
Most of the life device drivers bugs are created in this stage. We all seem to know what we have to do to improve our lives, but it seems we have a very hard time actually doing it right.
5. Test And Debug
This is the stage when you’re actually using the life driver. You’re already at the new job, or you’re already moving in together, upgrading to your next level of your relationship. Most of the time, you get a trial period at any new job, usually a month. This is the period in which you have to put your new life driver to test. If you already have a life driver, of course.
This is also the last stage in which you can modify your driver. You can make adjustments, replace routines, integrate new skills and create new habits. After this stage is over, you will remain stuck with your life driver in its current state. Not much to be done to it after you finish this testing stage.
In every relationship, the first few months are usually shaping the next years and modifying what you’re creating now is really, really difficult later. Your marriage life drivers will be already in place.
Now, let’s talk about a real life example. Two years ago I decided to sell my online publishing company. After that, one of the bigger social interfaces changed dramatically: I didn’t have an online publisihing company anymore. But I did want to do something with my life. Hence, the need for a new peripheral in my life. Hence, this blog.
That was step number one, if you didn’t realize it by now: I identified exactly the new peripheral in the class of “work”. What exactly I want to do as “work”? Create a personal development blog, of course.
The second step was also pretty clear: I want this blog to become profitable in 2 years. I want to work anywhere between 2 and 8 hours per day and have a very flexible routine. Oh, and I also wanted to generate even a bigger revenue than in my previous business.
The third step was relatively difficult. I had to choose between the Romanian market, where I was obviously comfortable with the language, but the overall market audience was completely out of my target. It was both really small compared with the English speaking blogosphere and not at all interested in anything more than tabloid blogs. I also had to assess my biggest liability, writing and reading in English, and take some steps towards drastically improving these skills. Fortunately, the rest of the diagram was filled in with the necessary requirements: had a lot of business experience, management skills and so on.
The fourth step took me like 2 months. I sold my company in July 2008 and started the blog in October 2008. Not too much to be told about this stage, I just started to write and follow my 2 years long strategy.
The interesting stuff happened (and still continue to happen as we speak) in the fifth step: since October 2008, my life blog driver suffered a few major upgrades. Some of them were related to the time spent writing, some of them were related to the time spent promoting and some of them were about simple things like changing the blog domain from a .ro domain name to a .com domain name. At the moment, I’m pretty satisfied with this life device driver as it is, but I’m sure there are a lot of other small features which can be added.
Well, feel free to suggest some, if you see a flaw in my workflow. And, by all means, do share your impressions. Do you think this is a sustainable approach? Do you see parts where it can be improved? Would you use such an approach to adjust to some big changes (both wanted and unwanted) in your life?. Let the comments begin. 🙂