How a Password Changed My Life

With the simple repetition of unlocking his computer, the author was able to make incredible things happen.

laptop with post it note
Nick Ferrari with Reader’s Digest

I was having a great morning until I sat down in front of my office computer. “Your password has expired,” a server message flashed on my screen, with instructions for changing it. Coming up with a new code doesn’t seem like a big deal, unless you work at my company, where we have to change it monthly, using at least one uppercase character, one lowercase character, one symbol, and one numeral. Oh, and the whole darn thing can’t be fewer than eight characters. And I can’t use any of the same passwords I’ve used in the past three months.

Suddenly I was furious. What didn’t make it any better was that I was deeply depressed after my recent divorce. Disbelief over what she had done to me was all I thought about. Every day.

That didn’t mean anything to the empty input field with a pulsating cursor, waiting for me to type a password that I’d have to reenter—many times—for the next 30 days. I remembered a tip I’d heard from my former boss. He’d said, “I’m going to use a password to change my life.”

I couldn’t focus on getting things done in my current mood. There were clear indicators of what I needed to do to regain control of my life, but I couldn’t heed them.

My password became the indicator. My password reminded me that I shouldn’t let myself be a victim of my recent breakup and that I was strong enough to do something about it.

I made my password [email protected].

I had to type this statement several times a day. Each time my computer would lock. Each time my screen saver with her photo would appear. Each time I would come back from eating lunch alone. In my mind, I wrote Forgive her every day.

The simple action changed the way I looked at my ex-wife. That constant reminder of reconciliation led me to accept the way things had happened at the end of my marriage and embrace a new way of dealing with my depression. As the month wore on, I felt a slow healing begin to take place. By the time my server prompted me to reset my password the following month, I felt free.

One month later, my dear Exchange server asked me yet again to reset my password. I thought about the next thing that I had to get done.

My password became [email protected]

I quit smoking overnight.

This password was a painful one to type during that month, but doing it helped me to yell at myself in my mind as I typed that statement. It motivated me to follow my monthly goal.

One month later, my password became [email protected].

Guess where I went three months later: Thailand.

Seeing how these reminders helped to materialize my goals kept me motivated and excited. While it’s sometimes difficult to come up with your next goal, keeping at it brings great results.

Here is a simplified extract of what some of my passwords have been in the past two years, so you get an idea of how my life has changed, thanks to this method:

Copyright © 2014 by Mauricio Estrella. Medium (May 15, 2014),

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