What seems to separate those who find success in life from those who do not, is not a lack of talent, but rather a lack of action. This is not to say talent has no bearing. Nonetheless, if you are frozen by inaction, you will never realize the true extent of your talents. Why do you fail to get going? Perhaps you are scarred by previous attempts and their associated disappointments, thereby paralyzing any future attempts for fear of failure. Or maybe you lack confidence to make major commitments. It could even be the fact that you are just plain lazy. However, here’s a simple experiment that, if followed, will bring motivation, confidence and action into your life. I call it the 10-Day Experiment.
The 10-Day Experiment is just that…an experiment. I based it off of my experience last year with the Lemonade Fast, a 10-day fast which aims at ridding the body of all the toxins it has built up over the years. Although initially difficult, I noticed that after the 10 days, it would have been fairly simple to continue with the fast if I wanted to. Since then, I’ve applied this same 10-day pattern to many different aspects of my life. For example, I’ve used it in regularly get up at 5AM every morning, in doing daily planning, to changing the foods I eat. Each of these “experiments” ended up turning into solidified habits. Last night, I just finished the latest application of this experiment. I used it to provide the impetus for the Body for Life program that I will be covering over the next 12 weeks in this blog.
How it Works
In a nutshell, you take something that you have wanted to try, improve, or change in your life, and for the next 10 days, you try it out. For example, if you have always wanted to be an early riser (say 5AM), you would over the course of 10 days get up at 5AM. It’s that simple. You make the decision that no matter what, you’ll stick to that decision for at least 10 days. It helps to think of it less as a commitment or lifestyle change and more like a trial run.
The best part about this, is that it only lasts for 10 days. If after the 10 days, it doesn’t seem to fit in your life or you don’t find it beneficial, you can stop. This relieves the added pressure of “a commitment”. Even if you don’t decide to continue, at least you stuck with a goal that you made to yourself. That in itself builds personal trust and confidence. By sticking to something for 10 days straight, you will have the ability to make major improvements in your life. You will gain more confidence, personal trust, discipline and willpower to apply in all your life endeavors.
Beyond the 10 Days
It seems (at least for me and others with whom I’ve talked with) that the first 10 days are the most difficult. From there, I’ve noticed a definite progression that happens over 10-day increments, until the action becomes a habit. Let me explain this progression in terms of “levels”.
Level 0 – The Launch
You have entered this level when you begin to apply action to a decision. Just like a rocket being launched, 90% of the fuel is used in overcoming earth’s gravitational pull, while the remaining 10% will keep it going. So it is with your “launch”. You will be using much of your energy in overcoming the inertia of your previous way of life.
Level 1 – The Tipping Point
Now that you’ve made it to the 10-day point, you may have noticed something. What was previously a struggle, seems now to be a lot more bearable. At level 1, you have just begun to overcome the inertia that held you bound to your old way of living. This is the level I like to call The Tipping Point. Although you’re up and running, it still hasn’t begun to be automatic for you. You now have an idea of what it’s like and it’s here that you can determine whether to turn the experiment into something you’d like to do for life, or to quit altogether.
Level 2 – Momentum
After 20 days, you’ve reached level 2. Here is where you’re picking up speed and have gained momentum. You no longer struggle to keep your commitment, however it still requires a conscious decision. You now know exactly how it will fit in your overall life. You’re well on your way at establishing a habit.
Level 3 – The Habit
At the 30-day mark, you’ve arrived at the final level. Level 3 is the realm of habit. Your daily commitment is well established and you realize a sense of freedom because it has now become automatic. At this point, it is actually more difficult to stop doing what you’ve been doing then to keep doing it. Now it’s time to send this into autopilot and try a new 10-day experiment!
Here are some applications in your life that you can apply this to:
Trying to overcome addictions like coffee, soda, cigarettes or even video games or television, can all be helped with the 10-day Experiment. Just try and see what it’s like to go without your favorite addiction for 10 days (the first 3-4 days always seems the worst for me).
After detox and rehab, a stay at an addiction recovery center is the next step towards full rehabilitation.
Getting involved in a health and fitness program is a perfect candidate for the 10-day Experiment. After 10 days, you’ve overcome the initial inertia and if you like how it makes you feel you can stick with it.
Focusing on what you eat is also a great candidate. For example, try going without white flour, or eat fresh fruits and vegetables everyday for 10 days. If you’ve always wanted to see what it’s like to be vegan, try refraining from eating any animal products for 10 days. I’ve tried a raw food diet for 20 days straight and discovered that I loved the way I felt but disliked the inconvenience while traveling for my work.
For the next 10 days, work on planning your day each evening and sticking to that plan the next day. During those planning sessions, it’s a good idea to review the day and see where you can make improvements the next day.
Focus on being absolutely productive for 10 days. For example, instead of lying around watching the boob tube, work on tasks that have needed to be done but you just “haven’t had the time to do them.” Well, now you do slacker…so get to work.
Work on being completely unselfish towards your partner. For 10 days, work on their needs and go above and beyond your normal actions. You’ll probably be amazed at how much comes back to you in return that you’ll never want to stop!
Work on sticking to a budget for 10 days. Or for 10 days, see if you can save 10 dollars a day.
Random Acts of Kindness
Try finding ways to serve and help other people for the next 10 days. Randomly show acts of kindness to complete strangers.
One of my favorite things to do is carry out personal experiments. I love trying new things. Whether it’s living in a leaf hut out in the woods for a month straight, to seeing if I can clean my insides drinking nothing but lemonade for 10 days, if I feel I can benefit from it, I’ll try it. Sure, many of the things I’ve tried have not benefited me directly, but at least I’ve always learned something from it. And if nothing else, when I’m 100, wearing Depends, and confined to my rocking chair, at least I’ll have some cool stories I can tell my grandkids one day.
Experimentation is what all great discoverers have done. Edison ended up experimenting with thousands of filaments before he found the right one which would light up the world. In our personal development, it is no different. By applying the 10-Day Experiment to different facets of your life on a regular basis, you’ll be forced into action which will eventually light up your own world!