Experimental Life

How do you change? What would you change if you could? If you changed one thing, what else would change with it?

In his article Successfully Integrate Your Work Life, Stew Friedman looks at rebalancing life, work and self by changing how you integrate them together.

If you are like me, you would love to make some changes in your life – but how? We each are like massive planets in orbit in our lives. When we try to move a little bit from where we are – the other planets in the solar system tend to pull us back to our nice safe gravity well of status quo.

Stew suggest that you start with some small experiments – life experiments. In design thinking this we might call them prototypes. But why not prototype changes to your life.

Small changes, that you spend little time on are easy to abandon, transform, or take the next small step.

Big changes, where you make a radical change, gear up, spend time and money pressure us to “make it work” or “succeed” and failure comes with huge stopping power.

Try it now

  1. Choose anything you would like to change in your life.
  2. What is the minimal step you could take that moves it a little bit – maybe even right now as you sit there reading this.
  3. Try it a few times and hold these questions in your mind while you try – “how is this working? what else would make this a little better?”

The main idea here is when you want to change – Don’t try to boil the ocean! make small tests, steps, changes and see how it works.

What can you start changing today with a small change? What is a big change you are trying to make that you can simplify? What have you tried that didn’t work so far?

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Baby Steps to Run

What is the minimum you can get away with starting? Where are you trying to start by boiling the ocean? What can you do that is the littlest step forward?

This week I met up with my family for a reunion of fun. It was the first time we had all been together in years and we did a lot of – what have you been up to? What do you DO anyway? Where are things going.

One of my cousins (technically first cousin once removed) and her boyfriend have a dream of opening a restaurant. They are building experience working with another owner and learning the ropes and both have quite a bit of experience given that they are both in their mid twenties.

The big idea is vegan and vegetarian pizzas that bring their lifestyle and his italian heritage and family restaurant experience together with their passion for opening a restaurant. But, they lack capital and experience with running things completely on their own.

After I explained design thinking we had a series of brainstorming sessions over the next two days refining the idea. We went from a brick and mortar restaurant in another state – which is the final dream – down to a pop-up kitchen version that they can try for a single day at farmers markets with minimal entry costs and a lot to learn from the experience.

This is the minimal viable product or a low resolution prototype of their ultimate idea. Within that they have already determined several questions to be answered by this small step and it has propelled them into action!

That is the power of prototyping – it gets you started and learning.

What project are you working on that needs some action? What is the minimal viable version of that?

Don’t wait. Do something small.