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Experimenting on myself

Another chapter in the art of tricking myself to be a functional adult.

A couple months ago I wrote about how teams will let you try any crazy idea if you pitch it as an experiment.

Around the same time, I discovered that the same strategy works on myself. I can convince myself to stick with anything if I tell myself it’s only a week-long experiment.

For the past 6 weeks, each Monday morning I’ve settled on a new weekly experiment. I commit to it for the next week, and then next Monday I decide whether I want to stick with it now that the week is up.

Here are the experiments I’ve tried so far:

  • Write a blog post every weekday. This has been life changing and I’m still doing it.
  • Stop eating and drinking all dairy. I didn’t notice a difference in how I felt, so stopped after the week.
  • Lift weights for 10 minutes before sitting down to work each weekday. I’ve stuck with this one. 10 minutes isn’t much but 10 consistent minutes is better than an hour that’s not consistent at all.
  • Set an alarm every hour to drink water. Still sticking with it. I am so hydrated!
  • Take baths instead of showers. I hated it. I almost didn’t make it through the whole week.
  • Keep my phone in the kitchen at all times so I’m not constantly distracted by it during family time. This is the one I’m starting this week – we’ll see how it goes.

A week is the perfect amount of time for me. It’s easy to say “for the next week, I’ll lift weights for 10 minutes before sitting down to work.” But without the “for the next week” part, it feels crazy.

Therein lies the power. Things seem possible for a week but impossible when I’m thinking long term. But once I’ve done it for a week, long term doesn’t seem so impossible.

Here are some ideas I have for future experiments:

  • Drink tea instead of coffee
  • Each day, send a quick thank you email or tweet to someone who’s work helped me that day (a blog post writer, a Stack Overflow responder, a book author, etc.)
  • Spend 10 minutes with YouTube videos each day learning to draw
  • Eat only plant-based foods until dinner
  • Track my time down to the minute during working hours
  • Every day, reach out to a different friend/acquaintance I haven’t spoken to in years

I’m excited to keep experimenting on myself and seeing where it takes me.