Thoughts

Experiment. Experience. Explore.

Future You

Become a side project scientist.

When we embrace a side project, there’s often something else we need to get to grips with. Namely, behaviour change.

Or, developing new habits to deal with old hang-ups.

Explore your options, find a good fit and try new behaviours on for size.

Approach aspects of personal change and development with an open mind, a spirit of curiosity and exibility. And then just see what gives.

One of the world’s leading proponents and exponents of this mindset is Tim Ferriss.

Tim spoke at The Do Lectures in 2008 — that’s right, 2008. (We specialise in crystal balls.)

Now a best-selling author, podcaster, entrepreneur and investor, Tim explores new ways of doing things. Experimenting with time, process and body hacks has become a way of life for him.

But it wasn’t always this way.

He used to work for the man — sat behind a desk, making cold-calls in an attempt to sell data storage solutions to companies.

‘Smiling and dialling’, as he describes it.

He wasn’t happy. But he was smart. He started to experiment with himself and his job.

A question about his pissy role popped into his head: ‘What if I tried something completely different for 48 hours?’

And so he explored something none of the other sales reps were doing. Something they would never have thought of.

While they were all zigging he zagged. They were on the phone to potential clients all the day long, but he decided to only make sales calls from 7am-8:30am and 6pm-7:30pm.

He asked potential clients questions instead of hard- selling. He went deep and studied technical data about the products. And so he came across more like an engineer than a salesperson.

‘The experiments paid off,’ he writes. ‘My last quarter in that job, I outsold the entire LA of ce of our biggest competitor.’

What Ferriss discovered, and what his name is now synonymous with, is nothing more or less than the art of ‘redesigning your life’.

And the good news? We can all do it.

Tim, an advocate of the 80/20 principle, states: ‘Success, however you define it, is achievable if you collect the right field-tested beliefs and habits.’

He’s right, isn’t he?

It’s only by pulling together a bunch of tools, tactics, tips and techniques, and trying those things out that we get anywhere. By consistently reviewing, tweaking and refining.

Why not try Tim’s philosophy and see where you end up?

A side project could prove to be the perfect lab to try this out.

Start with something low-risk and low-stakes. Something you care about, but won’t get all busted up over if it doesn’t turn out. A creative idea, making something, a new way of doing things — whatever you like.

It might also be an idea to design a few simple experiments to test on yourself and your current habits. Nothing fancy, too demanding or arduous. But the results could be enlightening.

Become a side project scientist.

It might start with an audit of how you use your available resources. Cross-checking to see if what you currently do syncs with what you’d like to do. Investigating if there are any disconnects or changes needed in your daily routines and activities. Researching best practice and good guidance.

Do you need to hit reset on anything? Your diet and energy levels, sleep, physical activity, the physical space where you’ll work on the project? Do you need to find a great coffee shop with rock-solid wifi, or do you need to discover a ‘thinking space’ outdoors?

Once you have a feel for what needs to be done, try a few options out, bench-test, play around with things, see what sticks.

But whatever you do, don’t be too hard on yourself. You can’t fail, you’re just looking for feedback at this stage, to help you develop more skills, ability and insight. Take your time and enjoy the enquiry.

Tim counsels ‘relentless focus on actionable details’. We’d suggest that’s for the graduate class.

For now, play around, have fun, discover, ease into the process. Figure out what your potential road- blocks are.

Pick an area you’d like to change. Then go for it.

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