Changing your life, emergently

As we all embark on the new year and face our resolutions, I want to offer some advice, both from an academic field I’m interested, and from some other smart people.  First, the academic field.  Emergence is a concept whose basic idea is that small changes, incremental steps lead to big phenomena.  Think about ants and how the operate.  They don’t know the big picture of what they’re doing.  Each ant adds a tiny amount to the life of the colony, and yet, the whole operation seems so amazing and efficient.  I think about this philosophy in my own life.  I take one day at a time.  It’s why I broke my resolutions down into daily activities: walk every day, do one load of laundry a day, declutter for 15 minutes per day.  Each day, I can ask if I’ve done those things and if I haven’t, I can tackle them.  And then those days add up, until, before you know it, you’ve established a habit.  Walking every day becomes just something that you do rather than a chore.  Which brings my to some other smart people.

In the video below, Matt Cutts, a Google engineer talks about doing something for 30 days, which is, of course, where you’ll be after doing your daily things.

3 Replies to “Changing your life, emergently”

  1. Mmm…thank you for this positive post…especially about chnage. It makes me feel better about the academic sphere and my own efforts to change/improve my work situation. Thank you.

  2. I have to agree about doing things one at a time. Most of the time, when I set a goal that is very general, I am usually overwhelmed by the complexity of the task and I just end up slacking off and doing nothing at all. Doing things bit by bit is really a more effective way of finishing or achieving something. I also believe this is a technique practised in cognitive behavioral therapy as a means of combatting depression. The message being don’t be overwhelmed by the world, take one thing and day at a time. It works for me!


Comments are closed.