This is a slight adaptation of a post I wrote for, which was focused on dating and relationships, but is applicable to any area of life. You can read the original post here.

Last week’s post on confidence featured an exercise on figuring out your personal attributes of confidence (Be) and what actions you could take to enhance them (Do). This week I want to share the basis of that exercise and expand upon the concept.

In life, most people subscribe to a Have + Do = Be equation of life. For example:

“When I have money, I’ll do a lot of things, then I’ll be happy”.

Sadly, that equation generally doesn’t work in life: i.e. “Once I’m with someone great/have the perfect job/live in a great house, I’ll do more exercise/cleaning the house/sharing of my hopes and dreams, and I’ll be tidy/in shape/communicative.” In reality, things have a tendency to fall back into homeostasis after you become comfortable – homeostasis being whatever you were doing before you “have” that thing.

Today we’re going to change that equation to Be + Do = Have. This change is subtle, but powerful. If you’ve been waiting to implement a new life habit until AFTER you have a life change (new job, relationship, house), I’m here to tell you that you need to implement it NOW, before you’re in that new situation, so that it’s already a habit.

Here are some examples of the equation change, as it pertains to relationships in particular:

Chasing the “Have”

The reason we want to make the equation change is that the “have” variable is ever-moving, can be unattainable, and it becomes a crutch – an excuse for not stepping up and being who we say we want to be. For example, if you think, “When I have a bigger apartment, then I’ll clean up more and be tidy.” Great! Lets say you get that bigger place, are you really going to clean up more? Maybe, for a little while…but then homeostasis sets in. You’ll typically end up saying “Oh, well, here I am (and things are kind of the same), BUT once I get the three bedroom house, then I’ll clean up more…” That, right there, is Chasing the Have. You never quite get to the “Be” that you want, since you’re always chasing the next thing to “Have”. Remember, if you haven’t developed the habit before you have what you want, then you generally fall back into homeostasis.

So, how do you really put it into practice?

(You’re already familiar with this if you read the earlier post on confidence)

Step 1: Fold a piece of paper in half to create two columns.

Step 2: In the first column make a list of what you want to “Be” in life, for example:

  1. Organized
  2. More Emotionally Open
  3. Communicative
  4. Adventurous
  5. Tidy
  6. In Shape/Healthy

Step 3: In the second column, referencing the “Be” in the first column, create weekly action steps that you can “Do”. (As Tim Ferriss says in The Four Hour Work Week, the “Be” column is just a holding area for the “Do” column.)

  1. Organized —> Buy file folders, shred unneeded papers, use file cabinet, make weekly goals, buy notebook, explore a new way of taking notes/making lists
  2. More Open —> Smile at three people today, share weekly goals with two people
  3. Communicative —> Talk to three random people this week, read an interesting article and share with a friend
  4. Adventurous —> Look up a class at the local outdoor shop, take a new route home, visit a new restaurant every month
  5. Tidy —> Clean up one room, each night of the week
  6. . . .

Simple, right? As Emerson said, “Do the thing, have the power.” You can’t have the power first, you’ve got to figure out who you want to BE and get out there and DO the thing, every day. Make it your homeostasis.

What other areas of life would you apply the Be – Do – Have philosophy to? Contact us for more information or coaching in this area.