May 2014: Work on a Secret Project

Work On A Secret Project

Who wants to work on a secret project?

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

I’m challenging myself (and you) to work on some kind of secret project this month.

The rules are pretty simple:

  1. Pick a secret project. (See some project ideas below.)
  2. Work on it throughout the month (I’m aiming for an hour a day.)
  3. At the end of the month, if you want to share your secret project with the world, I’ll host a big show-and-tell for anyone who participates in the experiment.

I think this is going to be a lot of fun.

Why should you work on a secret project?

Apart from the fact that secret projects are fun, there are some really good reasons to work on something without telling anyone about it.

Derek Sivers gave a famous TED Talk about Why You Should Keep Your Goals To Yourself.

There is compelling research dating back to the 1920s that suggests you’re more likely to reach your goals if you don’t tell people about them first.

If there’s something you’ve always wanted to do, now is the time to start. And “later” is the time to talk about it.

What should you do for your secret project?

It doesn’t really matter what you do for your secret project, but rule number one is that you don’t talk about fight club your secret project until the end of the month.

Here are some secret project ideas to get you started:

  • You could start a secret blog, or write a book, or build an online course and then launch it at the end of the month.
  • You could make a piece of art.
  • You could build a treehouse or a birdhouse or a bookshelf or something cool for your home. That’s right, I just told you to build a treehouse.
  • You could make a surprise present for someone you care about.
  • You could learn how to play a musical instrument, and then surprise your friends with a song.
  • You could teach yourself how to cook a really great recipe and then make a surprise dinner for your family (Boyfriends & husbands, take note). I suggest a recipe from Thug Kitchen.
  • You could start a new fitness program and not tell anyone about it (wait until your friends and family notice on their own).
  • You could use Duolingo or Fluent In Three Months to start learning a new language.
  • You could make a Shishi-odoshi fountain. (Bonus points for this one, because they’re super cool. – Tutorial here.)
  • You could even start a blog about Pictures of Hipsters Taking Pictures of Food.  (That’s a thing, apparently.)
  • You could think of something way better than these ideas. 🙂

You get the idea. This can be serious, or just for fun. There are no rules other than you have to spend time working on something, and you have to keep it a secret for now.

I’ve already decided what my secret project is going to be, and I’ll be revealing it at the end of the month.

I can tell you that I’m going to be making something, and also practicing a skill I want to get better at.

I’m also going to be spending at least an hour per day on my secret project. I have no idea what will happen, but I’m excited to find out.

I Hope You Will Join Me

If you want to participate, all you have to do is start planning and working on your secret project.

If you want to be eligible for the show-and-tell at the end of the month, leave a comment below and say that you’re in. You can join at any time during the month.

It’s ok to share this experiment with your friends and invite them to do their own secret project too.

You can also click here to tweet that you’re in. (I appreciate it!)

I can’t wait to show you what I’m working on…

Who’s with me?

Subscribe to Monthly Experiments

Challenge yourself. Try something new. Improve your lifestyle. Create better habits. One month at a time.

Get free updates and exclusive subscriber-only content.


  1. Mr Muldoon, I accept my secret mission.

  2. Boy, saying you are going to do something, and having to actually do it are two different things! I committed to do this challenge, but May 1st caught me completely off guard. I was like, “It’s May already? Really?” But then I went and did my secret thing. One day down, 30 to go! This is going to be an interesting month.

  3. Goal: think of my secret project before midnight tonight, May 1st

  4. The secret project is underway. Thanks for instigating John.

  5. I saw the invitation on Fizzle, but thought I’d skip it because I’m in the middle of a fitness program. However, I just saw something I want to try and I can’t pass up the chance to make it a super secret project.

  6. I’m totally in!!

  7. There are also studies *for* sharing goals in public. (If you look at the referenced study you’ll understand it’s not necessarily statistically valid. 63 people isn’t comprehensive.)

    Here are a couple studies with the opposite conclusions:

    I know for myself that I get more done when I share the goal either in public or using some other accountability mechanism.

    That all said, nothing wrong with secret projects. They can be quite fun!

    • Hey Karol,

      Yeah, I remember the first time I saw that TED Talk, I thought, “wait, what?”

      And I certainly do get something from the added accountability when I announce a goal on my blog, for example.

      Thank you so much for sharing those studies. I wonder what the effect will be when people share that they’re doing *something* without saying what it is right away. The whole, “I’m doing a secret project, but I can’t tell you what it is until June.”

      It’ll be interesting to see, either way.

      Thanks for stopping by man!

      • True that, would be interesting to see a study testing secret, but public, goals.

        Looking forward to reading about your secret project next month.

  8. Got one!

    I made it through all the “I don’t have time” bullshit – The “I’m starting a new blog soon, have an eBook coming out, have a day job, trying to have a life” stuff and am

    Ready to Roll!!!!!

  9. Hmm that’s an interesting one. I always thought people got an accountability boost from making their goals public too. Will have to check out the video!

    • Hey Nick. I think it’s true. I know I feel accountable to my readers when I say I’m going to do something. Check out the studies that Karol posted above.

      I think there’s also something to be said for intrinsic motivation (I want to do X because I personally care about it) versus extrinsic motivation (I want to do X because I want to look good/smart/fit to others). I imagine intrinsic motivation is stronger for people who are more self actualized, and extrinsic motivation is more powerful for people who feel less secure.

      Just a guess though. I hope you like the experiment idea. 🙂

  10. Reed Sullivan says:

    Visiting from creative live and happy to find your site. taking up my secret project from where I left off a while ago. So nice to have this gentle and kind nudge.

  11. Samina Hasan says:

    This is exactly what I needed at this time. Thank you, John!


  1. […] May 1 and my pal John Muldoon has his Secret Project month going and I was all excited to get moving on my book #2 after the success of my book #1 […]

  2. […] why when John Muldoon’s May 2014 Monthly Experiment: Work on a Secret Project  showed up in my inbox, I knew I had to jump on board and create something just for […]

  3. […] article at Monthly Experiments Project Website written by John Muldoon about working on  a secret project for a month. I think this is a brilliant idea and for the month of June I’ve set myself up to do just […]

  4. […] hosted a Secret Project Challenge back in 2014 that resulted in several of you creating new businesses. Some of my favorite stories […]

Speak Your Mind