Moving from Goal-Based Changes to Tracking-Based Experiments

If I learned anything from the first 5 months of 2019, it's to give more focus and energy to fewer things. I've cut back on quite a few activities and projects and put a lot of ideas on the back burner. My wife and I are also in the process of decluttering our house so we have fewer things to pull our attention away from what's important.

One major thing I'm simplifying is my 2019 Year of Change. This year I decided to resurrect the Year of Change challenge that I've done for a few years. I changed the format a bit to focus on just two habits each quarter. That proved to be too tedious to track and I found myself bouncing between the two habits and never becoming consistent with either one. To be frankly honest, I've barely made any progress. I've felt distracted and without purpose. So I'm shaking things up.

Instead of treating the Year of Change as a way to build new habits with rigid goals, I want to experiment and track results. So instead of saying “I want to be able to do 100 push-ups by the end of the year”, I'm going to say “What happens if I do push-ups every day for 2 months?” I want to treat these changes as experiments instead of goals or habits. And I want to track my progress instead of charting a course. In other words, I don't want to feel like I have to meet a quota. Instead, I want to track what I accomplish and the effect it has on my life.

Another change I'm making is shifting from focusing on two habits for 3 months to focusing intensely on one experiment for 2 months. For those 2 months I want to track progress and keep a log in a way that makes sense for the experiment (reps, time, distance, etc.). So I have some time to plan the logistics and prepare, I'm going to begin this adjustment on June 1 and see how it goes for the remainder of 2019. For those of you keeping track, that's now only 3 experiments for the rest of the year (I'll probably take December off for a month of reflection and preparation and family time).

While there will be fewer experiments overall, I'm finding that having one thing to completely focus on is better than bouncing between many things. I want to fully commit to one experiment rather than testing 2 or more things.

Another departure is that I'm not setting these up as permanent life changes. If something really sticks with me and I find it has a valuable, positive impact on my life, then I'll stick with it. If the experiment fails or I don't see lasting value, I'll either rethink my efforts or just part ways with the habit. Either way, I hope I'll learn a lot during each experiment.

For those who are curious, I've adapted this idea from these two blog posts from David Cain:

Experiments: Raptitude

Where Personal Breakthrough Really Come From: Raptitude

Currently, my tentative experiments for the rest of year are:

  1. Train to ride a long local bike trail
  2. Make Meditation a daily ritual
  3. Read a physical book before bed

These are subject to change, but this is my plan so far. More updates to come on May 31st.

Also, I've decided to create and release an audio version of this blog (I'll narrate each blog post and publish them as a podcast). I'm still in the planning stages, but I hope to have more updates on that project on May 31st as well.

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