3 Things You Can Do To Become a Better All-Around Hacker

The first month of 2014 is already over and if you’re anything like me then you’re already wondering where the heck it really went!

It’s that weird feeling of great accomplishment mixed with a tinge of the fear and anxiety that not enough has actually happened (or that you’ve been able to accomplish enough). Unfortunately for us entrepreneurs it’s a tension that has to be managed and is impossible to fully solve!

And we all want to improve this year and take whatever great ideas that we have and make them into some tangible reality. Whether it’s really the next big thing or if it’s a completely personal goal it always helps to become a better hacker, someone who can tackle a challenge, regardless of circumstance or resources, and make things happen.

Here are three things that you can do to up your hacker “game,” so to speak, in 2014:

1. Set Targeted Networking Goals

The best hackers out there are not only working actively on building their next big organization service or product but also actively engaged with the growing community around them.

Why? Because they fundamentally know that the best hackers are ones that are well-connected hackers, people that have both the technical resources as well as an ever-growing human capital network that may bring on insanely well-timed returns when needed.

I’ll admit that I have not always been the best at this and am not known for being the so-called “life of the party” but I have learned quickly that it pays to show up to networking events and shake hands consistently even if I’d rather be alone in front of my notebook writing lines of code.

Consequently, I’ve set monthly goals for networking events and I try to strategically slot into my calendar times to network. In addition I realized that without a specific networking target I’ve been aimless and careless with my decisions as to where I should go and who I should meet. Now I write it down and execute.

2. Self-Improvement Matters

Let me step up to the plate once again and be the first to admit that I haven’t always taken great care of my physical, mental and even spiritual well-being as I, like many of you, are hard-pressed at every turn to convert our limited time into a hard-and-fast return.

As a result, I’ve “let myself go” historically and found myself overweight or consistently exhausted with not enough sleep which (obviously) negatively impacts my performance.

I now believe without a shadow of a doubt that the best hackers are ones that are not only great technical and professional hackers but also ones that “hack their own health” through self-improvement techniques, diet, exercise, and even spiritual exercises such as meditation and mending the mind.

In addition, you might want to experiment with some new activities, hobbies, and even double-up on something exciting that might also be beneficial for your own professional success. Learning a bit of software program at a local Code School can pay off huge dividends for expanding your mind as well as providing some technical expertise for your growing company.

Who knows, you may even stumble-upon a new-found love for the 1’s and 0’s; who knew?

3. Read More, Produce Less

Many of us are bloggers and digital publishers which is fantastic and if you aren’t actively capturing and documenting your work then you really need a serious gut-check on the massive opportunity cost that you’re leaving on the table.

But for those that might already be publishing I have found that it’s always a good reminder for many of us to spend more time in deep and critical thought, consuming worthwhile content that’ll expand our mental hacking activities as they naturally bleed into our actual professional work.

The facts really do speak for themselves as you do not need to wander far to realize that the innovators of history and our contemporary time were and are voracious readers (and not just stuff within their own respective fields!). Great mental hackers are fluid hackers who can think across marketplace boundaries and bring in perspectives that may not have naturally fit but find a unique home in execution.

So dust off those science fiction novels that you’ve been ignoring for far too long (I’m totally eating up the Ender’s series right now) or jump into that biography that may change your life for the better.

Read more, produce a little bit less and you may find a literal reward well within your reach.

Here’s to a killer 2014 year my friends! Don’t let the next month go by like the first – take it up a notch and go kick some serious tail.