Your goals are simply experiments

Every once in a while, we encounter things that we never expected to become so useful in our lives. Perhaps most of you have discovered a life hack that you didn’t expect to be cleverly life-changing. Thus, it has become integrated with your lifestyle. Mine is a transformational way of thinking about goals that impacts my life and my clients’. In fact, my clients still rave about it even if they had stopped working with me already. I am talking about the idea of the experimental mindset

Agile Framework

Agile is a methodology created and used in product development among many things. It is about being able to adapt and change quickly in an ever-changing environment.

The most innovative tech companies who use agile create products early, test them out, offer them to the marketplace to see the response. The product is not perfect but they ship out as soon as possible to get real feedback from real customers.

They collect the data and go back to improve the product in the next sprint.

The good news is, you can apply this concept to your personal life, personal projects, personal calendar, how you approach goals,  goal setting, and habit building. I teach how to do it within The Monthly Method. The method is based on the idea of achieving your goals in short 3-weeks sprints allowing you to see measurable results fast. 

One of the main benefits of the agile framework is the ability to quickly pivot. You can adjust and build new products in line with the current world, demands, and customers. You can do it all quite quickly since you only allow a short time frame for your actions.

Traditional Goal Setting vs. Experimental Mindset 

While the traditional way relies on long-term plans that usually take five to ten years, the experimental mindset embraces short-term planning; i.e. working on sprints. 

Under the Monthly Method, you set goals for three weeks. Three weeks only. Not for the rest of your life. Not for the next decade. Just three weeks. 

In business, this means building as much product or service that you can finish in a small amount of time and offering them to consumers. If you get positive feedback on your service or product, you continue and improve. If not, you pivot, recalibrate, and do something different. As simple as that! 

With the traditional way, you would not get feedback until the very end of, let’s say, five or ten years. Sprints would give you that feedback within a month. 

In this fast-changing world that we live in, agile is the most effective way to be. It doesn’t matter if you’re a company or an individual. It works!  

running experiment

Embracing the Experimental Mindset 

You might be thinking of how you can apply agile methodology in your life. Well, you can use it even in the most mundane things in your life. For example, you might want to try running as an exercise. You set your goal to run a certain number of kilometers during a 3-week sprint. You make no promises that you’ll continue to run after these 3 weeks are over. You treat it as a fun experiment. 

After three weeks are over, you analyze your experiment. If you think it didn’t help you, abandon it and try another goal. If you enjoy the results of your experiments, you can continue doing it. Claim it as a newfound hobby that you want to improve over time. 

Put on a scientist hat

This is the very essence of the agile methodology. It will require you to put on your scientist hat and evaluate your results. Just looks at the data. Don’t be a drama queen. Analyze your numbers and experience and decide how to move forward.  Whether it is a success or a failure, you need to take action and set other goals. Perhaps this is the beauty of the short-term planning and experimental mindset: You can always set a different goal afterward

In addition, you’ll be able to constantly tweak things around to fit them more effortlessly in your life. It’s like solving a puzzle one at a time. We know that one piece fits another. If something doesn’t fit, for now, set it aside. Keep trying till you find the piece that fits.

Look at your life’s puzzle not from a ten-thousand feet viewpoint but on your own level. By working on your life’s puzzle little by little, you will eventually be able to put the pieces together. 

experimental mindset

The Value of Failure 

Inevitably, there will be times that your sprint goals won’t be achieved or will result in failure. Remember that this is completely fine. Every experiment is helpful because it brings you closer to the right one. Think of it as collecting data and variables that would soon lead to a successful experiment. Again, wear your scientist hat! 

If you don’t like what you have achieved, you can always ignore it. No need to whine over how you wasted your time and effort. After all, there’s a reason it’s called “an experiment”. Experiments never fail. They are always useful in bringing you to the next step.

The pressure of being right about your goal is gone. Whenever we try to set goals traditionally for the next five years, there is this pressure to get it right, to set the goal that we will enjoy doing for the next five years. In sprints, you are free from all the worries and doubts. Your goal doesn’t have to be perfect. It doesn’t have to be “the one”. 

Being Serious in Not Taking Things So Seriously

You don’t need to take things so seriously. You only have to adapt to your goals, their results, and the variables around you. If you look at evolution, the people who survived the most were the ones who adapted the quickest. That’s the truth of our existence. So don’t be too hard on yourself.

Look at your goals as experiments. Don’t look at them as something you want to keep doing for the rest of your life. Don’t look at them as a never-ending commitment. Don’t look at them as something that your self-worth depends on. The only healthy way to look at your goals and habits is to regard them as ONE EXPERIMENT AT A TIME. 


Read next:
    1. Winter: The Time to Build Productive Habits
    2. The one-way to-do list
    3. On Motivation

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