DIYF (Do It Yourself...First)

There comes a time in every person’s life when they feel compelled to boss someone around. If you don’t think it will happen to you, you must not be in a relationship or have children or even friends, because if there’s one thing I know about humans, we’re selfish bastards. It’s easy to be humble, empathetic, and generous when the only mouth you have to feed is making faces at you in the bathroom mirror. When it comes to force-feeding my infinite wisdom on my loved ones, however, I’ve discovered a useful trick.

In the spirit of cleaning your room*, I’ve adopted a litmus test for my impulse to impose any change of behavior on my family members: Do it myself first. This contains three immediate benefits: First, it appends that impulse with an automatic “sleep on it” clause since it will take some amount of time to enact before I’m permitted to impose it on anyone else. Second, it’s a self-evaluating system, meaning it tests the validity of my proposal and if it feels unrealistic for me, then it’s undoubtedly unrealistic for anyone else. Finally, if this is something worth undertaking, I reap the benefits myself. For example, if I considered suggesting that my daughter read for 30 minutes before school every day to expand her knowledge and become more fluent, I would soak up the same consequences of that activity. Whether or not I choose to continue doing that is up to me, but at least I found out first hand if it was valuable or not.

Granted this doesn’t work for things that require immediate intervention, but that’s not really what it’s meant for anyway. At the very least this is a great hypocrisy mitigator and the antithesis to the “do as I say, not as I do” ways of yore. Think your spouse should take up a new hobby or start pitching in more with the cleaning? Do it yourself first if you’re so smitten with the idea. You might realize it was you who needed to change.

Or, you’ll end up doing twice the work and now you’re twice as resentful. Either way, your bedroom is cleaner, isn’t it? #winning

* An idea coined by clinical psychologist Dr. Jordan Peterson that it's good practice to look at what's immediately around you that you could fix, and then fixing it. This could then eventually lead to fixing things of greater scope and importance.