We all have things we’d like to improve in our lives, but change is hard. It’s scary. We worry that we’re going to put all of this massive effort into something, and in the end find out:
- • It’s just too hard / we’re going to fail
- • We won’t be able to sustain it for the rest of our lives
- • The outcome wasn’t what we expected
- • It didn’t make us happier, healthier, or more successful after all
But what if we could try something new without the weight of all of those crazy expectations? What if we could take a small chance—in any area of our lives—without the pressure to sustain that change for all eternity? What if we could give ourselves permission to Experiment a little here, or a little there, and just find out if the change is worth the effort?
Let me tell you a story.
I’ve always had a huge amount of shame and guilt around my ability to cook and prepare meals for my family. I believe strongly in the benefits of healthful, home-cooked meals and the importance of sitting around the table together. On the other hand, I don’t feel super skilled, I don’t have a lot of time as a working mom, my family is going in a million different directions in the evenings, and I struggle to feel organized.
My complicated relationship with meal prep got even worse after my son Cory died, because he was the only one who would eat my food without a fight. And frankly it was HARD for us to gather around the table without him.
For years, I’ve been too overwhelmed to even do any research about my options. I just kept shoving it aside. Then a few months ago, we got a little nudge from a doctor, who confirmed that all this eating out since Cory’s death was doing us no favors, which triggered a whole new shame cycle. If only I was making better meals, we wouldn’t be where we are.
So one night my husband, Eric, suggested that we try Hello Fresh, a company that sends you a box of pre-measured ingredients for healthy, easy-to-prepare meals. I was too overwhelmed to even check out the app, so Eric said, “We’ll do it together.”
I needed that push to get out of my comfort zone—which was really more of a discomfort zone—and TAKE A CHANCE. I didn’t have to commit to making meals this way for the rest of my life. I could take a chance on this service I had heard so much about and just see what happened.
Well, it turned out to be life changing. Two nights a week, I can pull out the ingredients and throw a delicious meal together in 30 minutes flat, with zero energy spent thinking, planning, shopping, deciding, or agonizing over what to make. (And no, I’m not receiving any financial kickback from them for telling you this story. This is not an ad!)
The guilt is gone, and I’m learning new cooking techniques, too. I literally had no idea I could cook pork chops on the stovetop like that! My daughter Quincy is learning new skills along with me. She and her friend helped me make one of the meals one night, and it turned into a great opportunity to talk and connect with my busy teenager.
I probably won’t be a lifetime customer of Hello Fresh. But it’s a great solution that opened my eyes to a few facts:
- • I don’t suck
- • I’m not a horrible cook
- • I can learn how to do this
- • Simple changes can have a big impact
That’s what this month’s Experiment theme is all about. I want you to pick a small area of your life where you’d like to make a positive change and design one little experiment around it, using my free download below to help you out. If you’d like to follow the steps of the scientific method (think back to High School Chem), here’s a quick refresher.
Your experiment can be something simple like going to bed earlier or waking up earlier, trying a yoga class, giving up soda, trying a new recipe, saying NO more often (to obligations and commitments), or saying YES more often (to opportunities and invitations). Or it can be something a bit bigger, like taking a few small steps toward a goal or a dream you’ve been thinking about for months or even years.
Here are the rules:
• Keep it short. Try your experiment for a week or maybe a month. See how it goes. You could even try four different experiments in March—a different one each week. Don’t tell yourself this experiment has to last forever. You’re just trying something.
• Try one experiment at a time. You don’t have to change everything about your life all at once. Pick one small thing, try it out, either adopt it more permanently or let it go, then move on to the next experiment.
• Let go of fear of failure. There’s no way to fail here. Your goal is to learn something about yourself: does this work for me? Or not? Either way, you’ve learned something, and that’s a win!
• Do not call it a resolution. A resolution implies that you already know what you need or want to do and you’re resolved to do it. You don’t need that level of certainty here. I want you to create a sense of openness and possibility.
• Excavate some space in your life. Identify something you can let go of to make room for trying something new. It will be worth it.
My hope for you this month is that you’ll discover (as I did) that you don’t suck at whatever thing you’re feeling shame around, that you can make positive changes in your life, that small efforts can yield big results, and that learning something new about yourself is worth the effort.
Here’s how I plan to apply my Experiment intention to the four pillars of memory keeping for 2018ex:
Experiences—I’m going to go all in on my chosen experiment this month and write down what I experience and learn about myself as a result. I’ll take photos along the way and print the photos to perfectly fit my planner using Fresh Start photo paper.
Exceptional moments—I will notice and record the exceptional moments that happen as a result of my experiments. Did I see an incredible sunrise because I woke up earlier? Did I connect with my daughter as we cooked a new recipe together? I’ll capture these highlights in my planner this month.
Expectations—I will keep my predetermined expectations loose and open, embracing curiosity above all. Instead of thinking “If I try X, I expect Y and Z to happen…” I will think “If I try X, I wonder if Y will happen, or maybe Z, or something else entirely?”
What experiments are you going to try this month? I’d love to hear about them! Join me on Facebook Live on March 15th so we can chat and connect about all the new things we’re learning about ourselves.
Here are five photos to take to decorate your planner or calendar this month.
1. A photo that represents the before of your experiment (e.g., you with the giant soda that you used to drink daily, before your experiment of replacing it with flavored water for the month).
2. A photo of YOU at your most relaxed—in cozy socks by the fire, in your pajamas, curled up with a book, or maybe the moment after you complete a deep breathing exercise.
3. A photo that represents the after of your experiment. (e.g. you sitting in a chair reading a book, because you said no to an unimportant obligation and yes to making more time to read.)
4. A photo of any NEW thing you did or tried this month, whether it was part of your larger experiment or not.
5. Photos that represent all of the remaining experiments you’re excited to try next.
“It is common sense to take a method and try it. If it fails, admit it frankly and try another. But above all, try something.”
―Franklin D. Roosevelt
“I am my own experiment. I am my own work of art.”
“All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make, the better.”
—Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Do or do not. There is no try.”
Note: Look for pretty versions of these quotes on my Instagram feed (@heidiswapp) throughout the month!
My finished project and planning pages for February will be posted right here, so please check back at the beginning of March.