Why ‘fake it till you make it” is such a powerful tool for personal development

“It is easier to act yourself into a new way of thinking, than it is to think yourself into a new way of acting”

Millard Fuller, founder of Habitat for Humanity (1935-2009)

Greatly inspired by the best selling author A.J. Jacobs that has spend the better part of a decade documenting real life experiments in his books. I will not spend too much time telling you about the books but rather inspire you to start using the powerful tool “fake it till you make it”. When you first hear the quote you might initially think of something negative or superficial but for me this tool has been such an important part of my own personal development. But first, let’s look at the empirical findings of this phenomenon.

Psychologists have found out that if we smile – even when we do not want to or are not happy at all – it tricks our mind and will eventually make us a little bit happier. When I found out about this study months ago I start experimenting in my own life. I started smiling to strangers, smiling to myself when there was no reason to smile and forced myself to stay positive and smiling in heated up situations where I earlier would have let my mind slip to negative thoughts. In the beginning I would typically feel uncomfortable because keeping a fake smile for minutes and even longer requires a great deal of effort and yes – uncomfortableness.

However, having experimented now for several months I feel much more confident and definitely happier than before where I did not have the tool to prevent myself from having negative thoughts. In addition, this has led me on a path to find out what I specifically has to do when I face situations where I need to “fake it till I make it”.

What would an optimistic and confident person do?

When I face a situation where I need to fake my smile, my confidence or even my willpower I always ask myself how an optimistic and confident person will manage a similar situation. It sounds quite easy but sometimes it requires you to be another person than you really are and this is where the quote firstly mentioned in the beginning of this post comes in handy. Because, when you start faking how you act, you will slowly change the way you think. That’s a powerful thought and a real game changer if we can manage to use the “fake it till we make it” properly.

Since I started my journey into new thought processes by using “fake it till I make it” I have found some areas of my life where the mantra or motto has made a huge impact. And that’s how I would like to finish this post – with giving you three great examples of how you apply “fake it till you make it” to your own life.

1. Waking up in the morning

Since high school I have told everyone that wanted to listen that I was a night owl (in Danish also referred to as a B-human being). This postulate made me believe that I would never be able to wake up fresh in the morning because that was not the person I was and that was an ability I simply did not have in my repertoire. However, one year ago I started to realize that maybe I could fake myself into being an early riser instead of a night owl.

So, I started forcing myself to wake up at 5AM every morning for three months and kept telling myself most of the mornings how amazing this was even though I felt horrible the first month waking up that early. This has been a real game changer for me and if you are going around telling people that you can not wake up fresh in the mornings, maybe it is time to start acting your way into new thoughts.

2. Eating healthy

As most people on this planet I love eating unhealthy stuff filled with salt, sugar and all these beautiful E-numbers. However, when you think about what superstars and some of the biggest performers around are eating you might realize that they would never be able to perform if they are not taking in the right diet.

Therefore, I started digging into what super performers and some of the most inspirational people of all time were suggesting for power foods in their lives. Honestly, some of the things sounded less fancy and delicious than the food I was eating at the moment. But I forced myself into eating more good fat, more protein and less carbohydrates. And yes, I still miss eating pasta, white bread and the like but by eating more good fat and more protein I feel much more energized during the day.

3. I can choose my own freedom

The third and last, but definitely not least, idea might be one of the most powerful things I have ever learned when studying personal development. But your open-mindedness to this fact is required here.

Viktor Frankl wrote in his wonderful book ‘Man’s search for Meaning” that:

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom”.

And that is one of the things I am spending most of my time trying to understand at the moment. Think about it for a second. When we face a difficult or challenging situation we can choose our own response. When something goes totally wrong in our life or we screw up things we should have been able to overcome we can still choose to react positively and focus on what we can learn from our screw ups. This might be one of the most impactful differences between people who succeed in life and people who don’t.

When I first learned about this concept I was quite skeptical. However, pretty fast I started faking my response in situations where I earlier would have lost my mind. It helped me getting back to my initial positive spirit just by remembering – and forcing my brain to understand – that it was totally up to myself to choose the right response.

Well, that is how I think we should end this blogpost! I would love to hear some comments from you about the “fake it till you make it”-topic.

If you are more interested in personal development and want to know more about the real life experiments of A. J. Jacobs I will recommend you to listen to this amazing podcast created by Lewis Howes. It takes you on a 50-minute journey into personal development and how to develop your body, mind and your inner greatness.

You can hear the podcast from the media player underneath or check out Lewis Howes’ homepage here.


One thought on “Why ‘fake it till you make it” is such a powerful tool for personal development

  1. Again, great post!
    Lately, I have been experimenting with this ‘deliberate response’ thing as well. Some people keep telling me that ‘they just are’ a certain way and thereby limiting themselves to behavior that fits their idea of who they (think they) are. But I don’t agree and think we can definately recondition ourselves to adopt new behaviors, thereby slowly changing our habits and ultimately our self-beliefs.

    Keep up the good work!


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