Preview: Monthly Experiments

experimentI documented this briefly on my old blog, but I want to bring the conversation here…

I’m a huge fan of Monthly Experiments.

Try on a habit for one month, like you are taking a new outfit for a thorough test-wear… try it on, live with it for long enough to understand how it fits (or doesn’t) into what you want your life to be.

At the end of the month, decide whether to keep the new habit, tweak it, or let it go. With just a little experiment every month you can create an entirely new life by the end of the year. Groovy.

I can’t recall exactly where I picked up this idea; but I’m all about borrowing what resonates and learning from greatness. I do recall it was from a blogger talking about his “12 for 2012” around January 2012, and the fine folks at Zen Habits do a good job of it as well. Since then I’ve tried it out sporadically (more on that later)… this time it’s on.

How it Works

To make this really change your reality requires a bit more than the monthly equivalent of a new year’s resolution.

These are experiments.

First, you need to have an idea of what you hope to accomplish… just trying to see what it feels like? Wonder whether you can do it for a whole month? Wonder if just doing this for a month will have some external effect Zen Archery style?

All of these are valid… just know what you want to experience, so that by the end of the month you can learn and grow.

These experiments don’t have to be “every day”, but you do need to be specific about what you are setting out for yourself. Note: avoid vague things like “3 times per week” — if that’s the idea, pick a schedule: I will exercise on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays (for instance). It’s far too easy to let things slip to “tomorrow” when you are not specific on the front end.

Commit in public, if at all possible. State exactly what you plan to do, and how people can check up on you… and then hold yourself responsible for reporting on the results, whatever happens.

IF you bail partway through the month, that does not equate to failure — but reflect on why you dropped that month’s experiment.

Was is just not for you? Truly? Then do you know yourself a bit better now? Great now what’s next?

Was it just too hard? Why? Almost anything is possible if it is important enough… so have you learned something about your real priorities?

Live True

And finally, this is not supposed to be about trying to make yourself into something you think you’re supposed to be.

This is about learning how to become your true self, even if you don’t know exactly what that is right now. If after a month something does not ring true, then feel happy about setting it aside and saying “I am not a runner.” It’s also about learning to interpret the inner voices properly… if something keeps popping into your head, there is a reason for that — you will be more content when you find that reason.

My 12 for 2014

I have the beginnings of a list worked out… I only have to lay down the tracks one month ahead of the train, so this list will grow based on my first few experiments. Some may also move months as life dictates. In any case, here’s what I have so far:

Jan – Write every day (for public consumption)
Feb – Dedicate 3 hours/week to connecting with friends
Mar – Draw Every Day (and post online)
Apr – Short daily meditation
May – No TV or “random web reading” of any kind

Incomplete, I know… actually I have dozens I want to try out, and the hard part will be waiting until (for example) April to try out daily meditation… Still, I know it’s best to start with one and build momentum month on month.

So to be specific, I have 4 places at the moment for my daily writing to emerge. This is great for me, actually, as it lets me experiment with different styles throughout the week.

Here’s my current writing plan:

  • Personal growth experiments, inspirational ideas I come across, experiments in work-life balance, and projects I undertake (including thinking about a lifestyle business) will live here.
  • Everything I learn about startups as I try to help build Coursefork (my friend Brian‘s company) will be shared at SteveReaser.com. 
  • My work writing will appear on the (soon to be renamed) Coursefork blog; these will be me in a jacket and tie, but still very much me.
  • Personal bits and pieces that don’t fit into one of those broad themes will continue to land on screaser.blogspot.com, as I need to get them out of my head.

Final Thought

The reason this is so exciting to me is that it is, at it’s core, about creating the life that you want. Monthly Experiments are a great way to move, one step at a time, from the life that landed on you to a life you will be ecstatic leading.

Life has a way of being amazing when you focus on what you love.

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