Some Long-Overdue Updates

There was a time when I wrote and published posts here every week, but the last time I wrote to you was more than 6 months ago. I don’t really know how, but I still get people coming to this site every day, reading about personal experiments or how to change habits. Not as many as before, but it’s nice to know so many people out there are interested in their own growth and change.

Some of the people I’m closest to are going through pretty big life changes right now. Quitting jobs, starting businesses, ending or beginning relationships, moving. It makes me happy, being around change. The energy is sort of infectious, and I can’t help but get a little swept up in the momentum.

Sometimes I find it hard to keep up my own momentum over long periods of time. I’m prone to taking on too much at once, and end up working in fits and starts. Maybe I have ADD. I don’t know. This project is a good example. It’s never been my main gig. I run a business, technically two businesses, that I spend most of my time working on and in.

I still love this community and this project. I’ve still been doing experiments, but I’m long-overdue for an update. So, here’s what I’ve been up to lately.

Business

I’ve always hesitated to write about my other ventures here. I don’t remember exactly why, but it felt like too much business talk would distract from the things you experimenters are working on in your own lives.

Most of you who I’ve talked to over the years, at least those of you who are doing your own personal experiments, are trying to make lifestyle shifts. Waking up earlier, eating better, exercising more consistently, showing up more in relationships, creating more art… that sort of thing. But I know a lot of you are also working on businesses, starting your own blogs or websites, growing your own communities, offering your services for money.

For entrepreneurs, the distinction between business and lifestyle is pretty moot. I started this project five years ago because I was a workaholic and I wanted to stop working late.

I don’t know why I ever thought it would be wrong to write about business here.

So, that’s one thing I’m going to start doing differently. I’m going to start writing more about entrepreneurship.

Some of the most popular posts I’ve ever shared have been about business:

  1. I know several people who have read and followed The Two Most Important Rules for Entrepreneurs to build successful companies.
  2. Back in 2013, I challenged you to build a new lifestyle business. I took that challenge and ended up creating a business I still run today.
  3. We hosted a Secret Project Challenge back in 2014 that resulted in several of you creating new businesses. Some of my favorite stories are from experimenters who surprised their family members with news of their new venture.
  4. In 2015, we launched the Personal Experiment Challenge and many of you created new businesses alongside your peers who were changing personal habits.

The point is, I’m going to start sharing more business and entrepreneurship posts here. It’s always felt a little strange to keep those worlds apart, so I’m going to combine them and see what happens.

Adventure

If you’re one of the few people who follow me on Instagram, you’d know that travel and adventure are really important to me.

And apart from a few mountain climbing stories, this is another part of my life that I’ve largely kept off of this blog. Like with business topics, I’m not totally sure why. So, that’s going to change too.

A lot of the challenges and experiments I take on are related to travel or fitness in some way. I spent a month in China earlier this year, which was really wonderful. Last year, I spent a month in South America. I try to work when I travel, but I’m not as good at it as I could be. So, that’s something I’ll be working on and sharing more about.

Mental Health

Someone once said that being an entrepreneur is 100% about managing your own psychology. I think that’s true.

We’ve done some mental health related experiments before. We hosted a big mindfulness challenge a few years ago and had people all over the world committing to meditate every day. That was a lot of fun. I’d like to do more experiments like that.

This project is essentially about change and growth. We have some simple beliefs. When you treat your personal growth as an experiment or a challenge, you’re more likely to be successful. Change becomes fun instead of hard.

But of course, any kind of growth or change can also bring discomfort. You wouldn’t be here if you didn’t know that, and if you didn’t have goals that stretch you to do more than you have before.

Many of the changes you will try to make may bring on fear, anxiety, stress, depression, frustration, disappointment. I’ve struggled with all of those things. A lot. So, we’re going to talk about them more. I’ll share my struggles with depression and fear and that little strategies and experiments I’ve used to push through them.

Creativity

There’s a magic in creating something new in the world that didn’t exist before. Art, businesses, communities. All of them started from nothing. A lot of them started as experiments. So, we’re going to talk more about creativity here too.

The last time I shared something here, I was writing about disappointment. Since then, I’ve been disappointed in not sharing more regularly with you.

I’ve been busy making things and taking on my own experiments and challenges. I’ll share more about them in the coming days.

Thanks for reading. I hope you’ll stick around.

 

12 Rules For Dealing With Disappointment

I’ve wanted to write about how to deal with disappointment for a while. Today, I have a good reason to actually do it.

We just had a very disappointing election in the United States. *Even if your candidate won, you have to admit that the campaign and process was full of disappointments. There are a lot of adjectives to describe how you may be feeling, and how I’m feeling. I’m not going to list them. You know how you feel.

So, now what?

Most importantly, remember that progress rarely happens in a straight line, and anyone who is constantly striving for progress will inevitably face disappointment. That goes for you experimenters who are always pushing yourself to be better, too.

You will have setbacks. You will face disappointment. The harder you push toward your potential, the more likely you are to run into disappointments along the way. It’s part of the process. And what you do about disappointment will determine your fate.

“If there is no struggle, there is no progress.” – Frederick Douglass, August 3, 1857

(Side note, if you’ve never read the speech this quote is taken from, you absolutely should. It is especially stirring and timely right now.)

OK, ready? This is how to deal with disappointment, in 12 simple rules.

[Read more…]

The Definition of Courage

I occasionally write about climbing mountains. Not only is it one of my favorite things to do, but climbing makes a nice metaphor for a lot of the things we talk about here.

Goal setting. Hard work. Determination. Fear. CourageFailure. Success. Fear, againDisappointment. Hope. Uncertainty. PatienceCommitment. Challenging yourself. Experimenting.

I once wrote that climbing was my greatest teacher. I still think that’s true.

sample

One of the things climbing has taught me the most about is fear. Fear and courage. The difference between them. The fact that you can’t be courageous unless you are afraid.

I used to believe that climbing was about courage and glory and the triumph of reaching a summit against the odds.

I used to think fear was complicated. I thought courage was a personality trait.

That was before I became a climber. Now I know better.

Courage is not a personality trait. Courage is a choice. – Click to Tweet!

Climbing has taught me that the summit does not define us.

We are defined by the simple act of going toward our challenges.

That’s the definition of courage. And you don’t need a mountain for that.

 

The Man In The Arena

A few friends and I had a great adventure this weekend. We tried to climb a mountain.

We drove for too many hours, slept far too few, got lost and exhausted and more than a little beaten up for our efforts. We started before the sun came up, and finished long after it set.

Ultimately, none of us made it to the summit.

I was disappointed as the realization set in that we wouldn’t reach our goal. I don’t like failing, even though I know it’s a part of life and growth, and is a crucial step to learning anything.

I was bummed we didn’t make it to the top. But it helps to be in an incredibly beautiful place, because my disappointment turned to gratitude as I had some time to sit by this lake and reflect on my experience. Honestly, look at this place–it doesn’t even look real.

Split Mountain

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January 2016 Update

IMG_1975Wow, it’s been a while since I published anything here. (This is becoming my default opening line for blog posts.) 🙂

I should probably do a 2015 recap post at some point. It was a big year for me with a lot of ups and downs, and lots of lessons learned (hopefully). Honestly, I can’t believe how fast the year seemed to fly by. I accomplished a few of my goals for the year, but slipped up on more.

Anyway, now the calendar says 2016, and I’m sure a lot of you will be thinking about your goals for the new year.

If you’re into making New Years Resolutions, you might want to check out the post I wrote back on January 1st, 2013 about how to make resolutions that stick.

I’m making a few resolutions this year. One of which is to actually stick to a writing and publishing schedule on this blog. I used to have a pretty solid writing habit, but I’ve been really inconsistent lately. It’s kind of funny because I talk so much about writing and habits, you’d think I would have actually figured that one out. My first experiment of the year is going to be to write every day (again). This will be Round 3 of that experiment.

I’m hoping to follow in the footsteps of one of the Monthly Experiments community members, Bradley Charbonneau, who has written and published something for more than a thousand days in a row.

I’ve got a few other key habits I want to rebuild, but of course I’m going to be taking them one at a time. I’ll announce some more of my goals for the year soon, and also catch up a bit with writing about the experiments I did last year.

Monthly Experiments Podcast

In the meantime, if you want to hear the origin story of how and why I started doing Monthly Experiments, I was interviewed for a really cool podcast a few months back. It was a fun experience, and I shared some things that I haven’t talked much about here on the blog before.

If you want to give it a listen, check out my episode of Challenge Your Thinking with Dr. Linda Tucker.

Ok, I’m going to wrap up there for now.

A few questions…

Are you making any New Years Resolutions? Are you taking on a personal experiment for January?

Let me know in the comments, and/or hop over to the Monthly Experiments Facebook community and say hi there.

Happy New Year!

 

Well, That Escalated Quickly

A few days ago, I announced the August 2015 Personal Experiment Challenge.

My pitch was pretty simple:

If there’s something you want to change, something that hasn’t been working in your life, or something you’ve always wanted to try, now is the perfect time to try something new for a month. If you want to create a new habit that will help you reach your longterm goals, this is a great excuse to make it happen.

And, for this month, I’m going to be coaching and supporting anyone who decides to participate.

When I published that post and sent out an email announcing the challenge, I didn’t really know what kind of response to expect. In the past, I’ve announce an experiment that I was doing and invited you all to join me. That’s been a lot of fun, and you guys have done amazing things in past experiments.

I set up a private Facebook group for anyone who wanted to participate, and I figured maybe a dozen or so people would join me in there and we’d talk about our experiments and offer support throughout the month.

Well, then, things escalated quickly.  [Read more…]

August 2015: Personal Experiment Challenge

Who wants to take on a 1-month personal challenge?

Hopefully, you do. Because that’s what this month’s experiment is all about! 🙂

In case you’re new here, every month I take on a personal experiment and write about my results. I usually pick an experiment I want to do at the beginning of the month, and write a post about it, and invite you to join me.

But this month, instead of focusing on my own experiment, I’m going to be helping other people (like you!) with their own experiments.

So, basically, this month, I’m leaving the experiment idea up to you.

If there’s something you want to change, something that hasn’t been working in your life, or something you’ve always wanted to try, now is the perfect time to try something new for a month. If you want to create a new habit that will help you reach your longterm goals, this is a great excuse to make it happen.

And, for this month, I’m going to be coaching and supporting anyone who decides to participate.

How This Will Work

Right now, we’ve got a small private Facebook group of experimenters who are participating in this challenge, and you should definitely join us (more on how to do that in a minute).

There are people people doing experiments related to writing, fitness, business, waking up early, and even yoga. You can do any experiment you want. I want this to be as simple as possible.

Here are the rules:

  1. Choose an experiment.
  2. Do it for a month.
  3. Let me know how it goes.

Pretty simple, right?

If you like the idea of doing a 1-month experiment, but you aren’t sure what to do, here’s a quick list of ideas based on my own favorite experiments.

You could:

Really, it doesn’t matter what you choose to do, as long as you stick with it for a month.

Taking on an experiment or personal challenge is a great way to push yourself, cultivate more discipline, and have some fun.

Of course, if you have a more serious motivation for taking on a personal experiment, that’s great. Experiments are a great way to change habits and grow into your better self.

How To Join Us

I mentioned that there’s a private Facebook group for this experiment. I created it because I wanted a place for this community to interact and get support and advice and accountability. It’s very small right now, but so far it’s going well. People are encouraging each other and sharing their progress. It’s really inspiring, and I’d like to figure out a way to grow that community aspect more in the future.

If you want to join the private Facebook group, let me know in the comments here and I’ll send you an invitation. Or you can add me on Facebook and I’ll add you to the group.

Of course, you don’t have to participate in the Facebook group. You can also just send me an email, or leave a comment below to make your commitment.

[Update: Now you can just click here to join the Facebook group!]

Or you can tell your friends by tweeting your commitment to this challenge. Click here to tweet. (Thanks for the support if you do decide to share this publicly!)

Sound good? Let’s do this!

1,000 Posts in 1,000 Days

I’ve been excited about sharing this post for a long time. I didn’t write it though, except for this little introduction. It’s a guest post from my friend Bradley Charbonneau, and it’s been a long time coming.

I woke up this morning and thought about how I could explain the way it feels to publish this… because, it’s a pretty big deal. It’s basically a superhero story. Basically.

I thought about just telling you the story, trying to sum up the way it started, with three guys talking in a cafe in downtown San Francisco back in November of 2012.

Bradley runs a web development company and is a sort of business partner to me, but I always knew he had a secret past life as a writer. Sometimes he would talk about his writing days, about magazine articles and publishing his first book a decade earlier, about that other book, the “real” one in the drawer that just needed to be dusted off. He always lit up when he talked about writing, about how he’d like to do it more, get back into it and be a writer again. Most people stop there. They reminisce, talk about what they’d “like” to do differently, but nothing really changes.

Sitting in that cafe, Bradley said something really important. “A writer is someone who writes.”

I was really excited about doing monthly experiments to create new habits, so, I challenged him to write every day for a month to see what happened. He said he’d do one better, he’d write AND publish something every day for a month. We left the cafe and he got to work.

“So here we go, it’s November 1, 2012. I’m hoping, I’m even smiling to myself (no, really) that I’ll look back on this day with pride and say that was the day that it all began. Whew, exhilarating.” – Bradley Charbonneau, the unstoppable writing machine.

I honestly don’t know how to describe what happened next because it’s hard for me to believe it, but it’s one of the best things I’ve ever had the privilege of watching. Bradley wrote and published something every day for a month. I saw him start to change right away. He was excited and energetic. He’d say things like, “I’m feeling like a writer again” and “writing is bringing me closer to my kids” and “I’m falling back in love with writing.” He didn’t stop when the month was over.

He kept going.

He wrote and published something every day for 100 days, then 200, then 300, then a year, then 500 days. He wrote and published a book with his kids on the 10-year anniversary of publishing his first book. Then he did it again a year later. He became unstoppable. Today is his 1,000th post in a row. I asked him to publish it here.

And so, here it is… [Read more…]

June 2015: Decluttering Experiment

Wow, it’s been a while since I’ve actually posted here on the Monthly Experiments Project. I’ll write an update post (or ten) about the cool experiments I’ve been doing in that time (Neurofeedback, giving up alcohol, giving up sugar, starting a new business, and taking on a new fitness experiment) which I’m excited to tell you about a little later.

But today I want to introduce a brand new experiment that I’m starting this month, and you’re invited to join me.

I’m calling it the Decluttering Experiment. 

decluttering

The inspiration for this experiment came to me when I was traveling, and it’s something I’ve wanted to do for a few years. [Read more…]

A Wet Man Does Not Fear The Rain

This post is part of the No Excuses Challenge.

wet-man-does-not-fear

There’s a track near my house where I like to run. Especially on rainy days. It might sound strange, but I’ve always loved running in the rain. Ever since I was 10 years old.

When I used to run track, practice would be “rained out” but I’d do it anyway, usually all by myself. Same for soccer, except my whole team would practice or play in the rain.

I never understood why other sports didn’t carry on in the rain, but soccer players seemed to have discovered that they were, in fact, waterproof, and nothing bad would happen to them if they got wet.

Oh well. I loved it. And I still do. Even if it’s a hard rain or a cold rain, I’ll still go sometimes. The track is different in the rain.

When it’s sunny out, if there’s a puddle, I’ll probably run around it. Or jump over it. But when I’m already soaked, I splash right through it. 

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