Change Your Life With the Power Of Switch

We all want to be the best version of ourselves. I believe that that is a fundamental part of the human condition. Personally, I have always found myself looking for new and improved ways to become new and improved. Our latest PGP project gave me the opportunity to do just that.

I’ve always had a weird connection to literature like this. Even as a kid I can remember listening to self-help books in the car with my Dad. He didn’t often listen to music when we were driving. I wonder now if all along he was trying to give me advice or prepare me for a project like this.

I find self help books to be an interesting reflection on the culture they were produced in. The book I read certainly managed to further solidify my thesis. It goes by the title Switch, written by two brothers.  If I had the opportunity to write a book with my brother, I can assure you it would be nothing like the one Chip and Dan produced. They are incredibly insightful. Their reflection of today’s society is that we are all terribly inefficient at making change.

Their solution? Eliminate the variables. Chip and Dan provide a framework for turning change from something big and scary, into a formulaic response to a problem. Without spoiling the intricacies of the idea, I present to you the basic formula.

The basic idea consists of doing three things; directing the rider, motivating the elephant, and shaping the path. In more understandable terms that means that you are directing your conscious mind to your goal. Your conscious mind knows that achieving your goals is hard, but it’s willing to work. Your “elephant”,  or your more immediate unconscious mind, sees the present as more important than the future. You have to motivate this part of your mind in order to make real change.

If I’m trying to loose weight, for example, and there is a cookie in front of me. My “rider” knows that eating the cookies doesn’t fit with the change I want to make. However, my “elephant” knows that the cookie will taste good. So why not?

The last term is widely understood. Shaping the path means shaping the environment you exist in. It would be removing the cookies from the house to eliminate the opportunity.

Obviously, these are big ideas. Within the broad outline, there is a much more specific way provided to go about these steps. Shown below;

My goal after reading this book was to help the individuals in my community, specifically the ones that piss me off. Grade eights in general will be infuriating until the end of time. The post pandemic swarm has had particular challenges. I had the opportunity to join them on an overnight trip as a counsellor and the way they acted was, for the most part, abhorrent. They seemed like they hated everyone and everything. There were constant complaints, outbursts, and moments of overwhelm.

But then the evening came, and I had a chance to talk with them one on one. They weren’t happy with their behaviours, they just didn’t know how to change it.

Thus, once I read Switch I was immediately inspired to create something they could use. I wanted to create an “accessible IEP” (Individual Education Plan). A way to make education based change within the school for an individual. This was where I started, but not where I would end up.

One I started looking at the ways we could apply the Switch framework the more I realized how applicable all of this is to each of our lives. We all want to make change. Why limit my genius to just one group of people?

With my adapted audience I was able to start working on drafts. I used Canva to create my worksheet even though it has its flaws. Here’s how it turned out:

The idea behind the worksheet is to summarize the points I found meaningful from the book and present them in an accessible format. To go along with this sheet, I also created an art piece. It’s shown below.

I’m really happy with how this project turned out. Even though I didn’t have the opportunity to present, I think I did an outstanding job showing how useful my book can be to everyday people.

I really do recommend reading Switch if you have the time. If not, try and take as much from the worksheet I made. It might help you make a switch in your day to day life.


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