Whether you are well on your way to self improvement nirvana or just starting off on your journey, there is always room for a bit of scientific experimentation.
We are constantly fed information about what is the best way to live our lives. Whether it is about what food to eat and when to eat it, how to improve your sleep, what kind of exercise you should be doing and when.
Unfortunately, these recommendations are usually based on studying groups of people and are therefore a generalised view on solving a problem. How do you make it more tailored to you?
Well, you can take your journey to greatness into your own hands and start experimenting on yourself! Don’t worry, we’re not expecting you to make wacky chemical formulas to try out in the hope of miracle solutions to everyday problems. We’re talking about trying little things out in your daily routine and seeing what effect they have on your life.
The aim here is to eliminate the confusion of all that self improvement information overload and cut straight to the chase with real life experience of what is best for you.
What’s Great About Experimenting On Yourself
“It’s okay to take that reservoir of passion that you have and let it flow into whatever you love. Experiment, question, replicate, be critical, be nerdy, be yourself.” – Kyle Hill
The ultimate aim of experimenting on yourself is to gain some amazing insights into the subtle things that have a big impact on improving your life. You will start to build up a tool chest of things that you can use in your daily life, or whenever you specifically need a certain outcome.
Aside from the benefits to your personal development, there are other great reasons for experimenting on yourself.
The act of observing your life and finding out what works and what doesn’t is, in itself a wonderful introduction to mindfulness. Often we go through life not paying attention to how we feel and what we think in any given moment. If you can bring just a little bit of awareness to your mind and body’s subtle nuances throughout the day it will benefit you greatly.
By designing experiments that attempt to solve problems in your life you are exercising your creative muscles. Just like your real muscles, the more you use them the stronger they become. Creativity is a much underestimated skill that can help accelerate your journey to a better place.
The hands on experience of experimenting and seeing tangible results makes you more informed of what can affect the human body, not just for yourself but potentially others. Increasing your knowledge on these types of things and becoming an ‘expert’ will have a long lasting effect on both the way your mind works and your general view of life.
As part of the experimentation process you will undoubtedly be learning new things in order to design experiments that will actually work. As you experiment more and more you will start to understand the process better as well as develop a hindsight for what will have the greatest chance of success.
Personally, I find the experimentation process a lot of fun! You are finding answers to questions that nobody really knows while making your life better and becoming a scientist in the process (no white lab coat required!).
Experimenting on yourself does not simply produce an answer to one question, it becomes a journey of self-awareness, creativity, learning and joy.
How Do You Experiment On Yourself?
Coming from a scientific background, I like the way experiments work and think it is a great way to approach personal development.
There are four key stages to an experiment:
- Stage 1: Make an observation (eg. a lack of energy in the afternoon, what does your normal day look like?)
- Stage 2: Come up with a hypothesis involving one variable (changing my lunch will give me more energy)
- Stage 3: Design an experiment (try out different lunches, rate how you feel each day)
- Stage 4: Evaluate the results (was there a particular lunch that improved your energy?)
There are also a couple of important things to consider while conducting an experiment.
Give the experiment enough time to demonstrate meaningful results. For example, if you are changing your lunch to see how it affects your afternoon energy you probably don’t want to just try it for one day and expect conclusive results. It may take a few days with one type of lunch to see a trend.
Also, you should only be changing one variable in your experiment and trying to keep everything else constant so you can be sure any changes are the result of your variable.
This may mean an experiment takes a while to carry out, but you’d be surprised how quickly your experiments start stacking up as you go.
The main thing is to just set them up to be a part of your everyday life and not make your life about the experiment.
With the example of the afternoon energy experiment you would just plan your lunches for the week and note down a rating for your energy levels at certain times every day. The rest of your day carries on as normal.
How To Measure Your Experiments
In our previous example we looked at rating our energy levels at certain times during the day. This is obviously quite a subjective measurement, but you are arriving at it from one point of view: your own. In this way there is an element of consistency and you will certainly get better in your judgements with practice.
Rating your energy, level of focus, tiredness and even horniness out of 10 is a good, low tech fall back method of tracking the effect of certain variables on your life.
There are ways of measuring some things more accurately, such as heart rate, sleep quality and blood oxygen saturation through various wearable and measuring technologies.
We’re not here to tell you to go out and spend your money on things that may not be necessary though. We recommend sticking to the simpler experiments that result in you generally feeling better.
Once you have the simple things sorted then you can get into the cool techy stuff! (Ok, so these things are actually really exciting to us!).
Having gathered your data, whether that is a rating of how you feel or more tangible like heart rate data, you can do a bit of analysis.
Humans love visual things and creating a very simple graph is usually the best way to look at your data. Transfer everything into a spreadsheet (googles sheets is free, online and simple) if you haven’t already. Then simply select what you want to look at and turn it into a chart. We will get a video of this process up for you shortly.
Once you have a graph you should be able to see patterns in what you are measuring depending on what variables you change. Again, this is all a lot easier to demonstrate in video form so watch out for that if you need more clarification.
What Experiments Can You Do
I’m sure you’re eager to get stuck into an experiment of your own. If you have a great idea for one now then why not go for it! Follow the process we outline above but don’t get too concerned with the detail.
If you want some suggestions for experiments that will have a big impact on your life then we do recommend starting with the following. For each one, we’ve picked out ‘key three’ feelings to measure, but you can adapt this as you get more confident in your experiments:
- First observe how much water you normally drink for a normal week (you can easily measure this by filling up a litre bottle, stainless steel of course, first thing in the morning and then seeing how many bottles you drink by the end of the day). Measure the ‘key three’ over the week.
- Then set yourself a target of drinking twice as much over a set schedule (drinking half a litre in the morning, then 250ml every 90 mins is a good start. Stop drinking about 90 mins before bed).
- Compare the ‘key three’ to your control week.
- First observe a week without meditation, measuring the ‘key three’.
- Then do a week with 10 mins meditation in the morning (start with a guided meditation to make things easy, check out Insight Timer for some really good morning meditations).
- Compare the ‘key three’ to your control week.
- Observe your normal diet over a week (what you eat and when you eat it)
- Then try eating exactly the same meals but eliminate one thing (try eliminating gluten and do that for a week)
- Compare the ‘key three’ to your control week.
Other experiments you could do
- Effect of various things on sleep (oura ring)
- Effect of your actions on your relationship
- How being more sociable affects your mood
- How standing up for some of your working day affects joint stiffness
What To Do With Your Results
You are doing all this for a reason, so make sure you don’t fall into the trap of going back to old ways once you have found something that makes a positive change. However, when you can see real life results in this way it does help to reinforce the changes you need to make in life.
Once you do find something that works, share it with the world! Or at least your friends and family. Get them to try experiments themselves, after all you’re speaking from the view point of a scientist now!
Turn the positive results into habits. You may have already spent a week doing something that turns out to be really good for you, so why not carry that on until it becomes an automatic part of your life.
The main thing is to enjoy the process. You’re a pioneer, a scientist, an action-oriented individual and it starts to feel good, especially as you see tangible positive changes in your life.
Even better if you help others make similar improvements in theirs!
Tell us all about your experiments! We are really interested and excited to hear of your successes. However, we also want to build a knowledge base of things that work and start to see patterns that we can then reinvest into our writing.
Let’s work together as amateur scientists to make everyone’s lives better!
If you want to arrange a free conversation about improving or changing your career with a coach, send us an email to [email protected]
We want to see you fulfil your potential!