The first point to consider is what strategy you would like to examine first. If you have loads of new tips you want to implement and try to do them all at once then you will have very little idea of what is doing what and you will finish your experiment with no new information and potentially more confused than when you started. This first step obviously requires some patience, any time we have new toys to play with the temptation is obviously to spread them all out on the floor and create a mess. If we are going to be scientific we need to be considered and deliberate. Pick the technique that you feel will have the greatest benefit for you, or maybe just the one you are most excited/intrigued to try, and focus your energies on that.
Next you need to set the parameters for your experiment, how long do you want to run it for, how often do you want to be implementing this technique, where and when do you want to be using it? This obviously depends a lot on the type of technique you are looking at, to use an example let’s consider mindfulness meditation, such an intervention is probably best done on a daily basis so you could set aside a period of time each morning to try it. You’d then look at a time frame for this practice to review the results. Headspace and Calm apps have free 10 day programs so you can use that time period for your experiment.
Now comes the important bit – how are you going to measure changes? This comes down to the metrics that you are interested in changing. Using our mindfulness example you may be interested in managing anxiety so a simple metric you could use would be a self-rating of anxiety level out of 10 at the end of each day. You can then review this compared to a baseline that you kept before starting the experiment. You could also look at more quantitative measures such as resting heart rate. There are loads of potential measures to choose from and with the increase in wearable technology and tracking apps your options are virtually endless. The main points to consider are whether the metric you are using actually measures what it is that you are hoping to improve and also to not throw every single possible piece of outcome data at the situation as otherwise you will end up with more information than you know what to do with.
With the above defined and set you have the green light to start your experiment. All this may seem like a massive faff but in the long term it is hugely important and will save you hours and hours of effort. Using this scientific method you will have clear data on the efficacy of everything you try and can start to develop a toolbox of techniques that you can apply effectively and efficiently to whatever situation you are encountering.
I hope you’ve found this post a useful guide for how to carry out your self-improvement experiments. If you have any interesting results from doing your own I’d love to hear from you. And, as ever, don’t forget to sign up for the newsletter.