For the new year, at least the next few months, I’ll be employing one personal experiment per month. Perhaps you’ll join me.
Here are the rules of the game:
1. Only one experiment per month.
You want to do other stuff, fine, but choose one thing that’s your real target.
2. Lock onto the target and do not stray.
This is not “we’ll see how I feel and re-evaluate every morning.” It’s set the target for one month. If and when it’s difficult, toughen up. To toughen up, you need nothing other than to just, well, toughen up.
I offer this primarily as an antidote to the camp I often spend time in, which is more feel good and listen to your body type rhetoric. Of course don’t do violence to yourself, but as anyone who’s broken through an addiction will tell you, there will be moments when your body is screaming at you for one more hit of whatever — a drink, a cookie, a random hookup — and the power of staying with your resolve, and emerging out the other side of the addictive craving … well, what that is is really what these experiments are about, ultimately. Then you have a different body that will make new choices. If the thing was really good for you, i.e. this version of listening to your body, when the month is up: have at it, forever and ever.
3. This is an experiment, of course, so do your best to empty any preconceptions about if this is “good for you” or not. This is, in my mind, the biggest difference between an experiment and a resolution. Both can be great, but this one is really about try this and really observe, see what it’s like to do it for a month.
4. Share with people if it’s helpful. If it’s not, don’t.
I’ve been appreciating lately the dance of when it’s time for public transparency, and when it’s time to hold something dear to your chest, like a journal entry that you know no one else will read.
5. You may ask yourself: whose voice is this that’s asking for this change?
Ask this both when setting the experiment, and throughout the month. You may already get what I’m getting at, and may be surprised. I sure have been.
6. When the month is done, the experiment is done.
Then drop it, entirely. You may, of course, find yourself engaging again. You may find some habits have completely dropped. I’ve experienced both. (Coffee, for example, I take breaks from every few months, when it’s feeling like too much. But it’s something I love a lot and usually come back to. I’m getting more and more okay with that.)
Have a great time. Let me know how it goes? LB
Thanks, Liam. Great idea. I’m not sure why you discourage me from telling people about my failed experiments. In research, way over 50% of experiments fail. There is still something to be learned from them.
Hi Mark, you’re welcome! And I’m not sure I’m following you here. If I’m discouraging anything here in terms of sharing, it’s just sharing something that feels intimate enough to not be shared. Kind of an antidote to the “write your diary on your facebook wall” culture that can cheapen an intimate experience. “Can” being the operative word. If it feels helpful to share, of course, by all means, do! And mostly: heck yes that experiments that don’t pan out are useful! The point is to see, right?