Hey there, Dean here. I run content and SEO at AppSumo. Here, I write and share about productivity, leadership, money, psychology, marketing, and more.
5 simple experiments you can do today to turn things around
Most people think that the lives of successful people are filled with exciting opportunities and life-changing experiences. It’s just not true.
The very successful people I know live an average life just like you and me and everyone else. They’re working towards their goals and facing multiple challenges along the way.
So what sets them apart? It could be their mental framework, their daily habits, or even their successful network. However, most of these traits and resources don’t come naturally. Instead, they choose to test things most people don’t and found what works — and what doesn’t — for them.
The question is, what is something new you have tested this year?
Over the past three years, I tried many new things that I’ve never done before; thinking from a new perspective, reading a new book, practicing a new skill, and more. Most of them didn’t end up working for me. But the ones that work didn't just make my life better, they changed my life.
To change your life, you don’t need a magical moment or a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Instead, all you need is to remain open-minded and actively test things out. And today, here are five small tests you can do that will probably change your life forever.
When talking about motivation, most people think of the grand vision and mission: “Stop living a mediocre life, find your passion, and change the world!” They all sound sexy. However, most of them are not relevant and actionable for you now.
Instead of focusing on your grand vision in the cloud, switch the focus to the street-level motivation — something that motivates you right on the spot. Something that makes you feel good immediately. It could be:
High-level motivation is important. It gives you a direction. But we might lose focus on the actual work that matters. You need street-level motivation that makes you feel great about what you’re doing every day to keep yourself on track.
One of the best pieces of advice I received from anywhere — from books, mentors, and experience — was to never reinvent the wheel.
If you want to learn, do, or master something, find someone who has been there and then pick his or her brain about it even if it means paying a price. The time you save and the pitfalls you avoid will be far more valuable in return.
There are three essential tips when implementing this idea:
In other words, protect your attention.
We’re living in a time of information overload. Our attention is becoming more valuable than ever. Unfortunately, most web and mobile applications are designed to keep us using them as long and as frequently as they can.
Instead of getting distracted all the time the smart way is to turn off all the notifications in the first place. This simple act helps you create the space required for deep work.
Trust me, you won’t miss anything. If something is vital, change the notification setting so it’s less intrusive or schedule the time to check specific apps regularly.
Today, almost everything is optimized to make our lives easier; smart home systems, productive life hacks, self-driving cars. You name it. We want to get things done with the least effort and as fast as possible.
I have to admit that I’m a big fan of optimizing the environment to make things effortless:
While doing so, we need to avoid falling into the trap of over-optimization. The goal is not to have fewer things to do, the goal is to have fewer inessential stuff so we can focus on those items that really matter.
Think about everything you want to improve or get better and try making it harder so you can grow. It could be taking a cold shower, starting a side hustle, learning new skills, or putting in more hours to improve your writing ability.
Intentionally making things difficult doesn’t only harness your skills, it pushes your boundaries and trains your resilience. Those are critical skills you will need when things get tough.
Making smart choices based on concrete data and thorough analysis is essential. But there are many situations in life where snap judgments are needed. Unfortunately, most of us are not trained to make quick decisions especially when we’re overly attached to making the best decisions based on hard data and information.
Start by finding areas where a wrong assumption or a bad decision made is not leading to non-reservable negative consequences. Then, try to cut down the time you use to make those decisions. For example:
Making quick decisions frees up your head space for bigger, more important decisions. It also helps you develop a simple set of decision-making principles that will benefit every area of your life. And lastly, it trains your intuition and improves your self-confidence.
We stop testing new things because, at a certain point in life, we settle for comfort and start living with scarcity. Instead of focusing on the possibility, we focus on:
You have to realize that your life doesn’t end tomorrow, and it certainly doesn’t end if some of these new mindsets, routines, and habits don’t work out for you. If you don’t enjoy learning a new skill, quit it. If you don’t think a specific routine works for you, stop it.
In fact, you risk close to nothing by testing these five simple experiments out but when any — even just one — of them works, your life will never be the same again.