Ever feel like you can’t do anything right? If so, you are in for a real treat today/ That’s because I am going to share three experiments designed to fail. Think of these as a trio of piñatas. You have to wreck them before you can enjoy their sweet, sweet payload.
Healthy foods only
We’ve all thought — from time to time — ”Right! No more of this nonsense. I’m going to consume less X and more Y.” So, for this experiment, you will set a budget aside and make a list of healthy foods.
To get into the right headspace, imagine Gwyneth Paltrow — but without all the science-denying hucksterism. What would someone like that eat? Great. Buy that!
Every single uncooked gem will reveal (at least) one of these missing things:
- Time management or planning skill
- Food prep or cooking skill (possibly including having the right tools)
- The foods you prioritize over those other uncooked gems
- Stress management habits and skills
Tiny changes don’t count
When I introduce people to the Tiny Habits method. the second most common type of resistance (after integrating celebrations) is the concern that tiny, positive changes won’t make a real difference. Whatever the answer, I think that it’s one you would want to be absolutely certain about.
For this experiment, you will create two columns. On the left, you’ll list all of the tiny things you already do well. Only count the ones that are easy and feel largely effortless. On the right, you’ll note whether or not these things with a disproportionately high ROI for the time involved.
Note: this is not an evaluation of the outcome in an absolute sense. Rather, a calculation of ROI per second of practice (ROI/s).
A few examples to get you going:
- Brushing your teeth
- Moisturizing that beautiful mug of yours
- Taking a mindful breath
- Pouring a glass of water
- Shutting your phone off after you return home
- Putting on your sneakers
Full disclosure: I am personally convinced of the value of small changes — when consistently done. But I’m here for whatever works. So, I would be very curious to hear about anything that might challenge my assumptions.
Break my brain. I double-dog dare you.
Your final hour of wakefulness is more valuable than an additional hour of sleep
Revenge bedtime procrastination is a thing I know well. After a busy, loud day, there’s something magical about having full autonomy in the peaceful hours of the night. I am as guilty as anyone. So, it’s just worth unpacking whether it’s as worthwhile as you (or I) think.
For this experiment, you’ll need a baseline indicator. You might, for example, evaluate how well an activity works in terms of refreshing and regenerating you. In this case, I would do a rating in the moment and the next morning.
A different approach would be to choose a performance indicator like decision-making, creativity, mood, concentration, or physical performance. Whatever is important to you. I highly recommend choosing something that you already have a good sense of performance on. My advice would be to start with a hobby.
For example, I play chess most days. So, I am not only clear on my standard performance (which is tracked via an online rating) but my standard patterns of regression and progression. For example, when I’m integrating a new strategy, my performance tends to drop before rising to a new level.
If you don’t know what types of performance indicators might be important to you, that’s an awfully good place to start.
If you don’t know how to consistently (and easily) track performance, that’s a great follow-up question. Ideally, your tracking will sit on the shoulders of an existing habit. I hate adding more stuff unless absolutely necessary.
Finally, look at the data. There’s no right or wrong answer here — just your opinion. Nobody can tell you that your opinion is wrong. Except for a member of your immediate family, of course. So, this is ultimately more of a gut-check to see if your read on the cost-benefit relationship matches up with your own reality.