This is Step #4 of 12 in our Best is Yet to Come guide to creating your best life, and creation requires experimentation!
I love to cook. It is the joy of pulling together a set of raw ingredients into a dish that puts a smile on Betsy’s face. I enjoy the process itself, listening to the music as I chop and prepare all the components for whatever I am making.
But most of all, I love the experimentation.
Trying something completely different just for the fun of seeing where it will take us. This is what experimentation in life is about – trying new things even when you have no idea where they will take you.
This week we are in northern Spain, housesitting in a small farmhouse at the base of the Pyrenees. Today I decided to cook a Moroccan chicken recipe I’d wanted to try for some time. Unfortunately, we only were able to find some of the ingredients, so I experimented – an extra dash of garam masala, some chile powder, added olives, and white wine instead of chicken broth. I was not sure if it would all come together, but I knew that the worst case scenario was that we’d have a great tasting couscous and a bottle of wine.
What could go wrong?
How Do You Know What You Really Want?
Cooking is an everyday example of experimentation. Worst-case scenario, you end up eating a bowl of cereal for dinner instead. No one gets hurt. But the best-case scenario is that you discover a favorite new food (roasted garbanzo beans! olive chicken! tagine!).
Step 4 in The Best is Yet to Come Series is about creating an attitude of experimentation in your life.
You may say you know what you want, or that you don’t have a clue what you desire. In both cases, experimentation will show you where you’re wrong and point you in the right direction. You’ll test your assumptions, gather data on what works best for you, and cross off your list what sounds good but isn’t so great for you in real life.
If you don’t experiment, you don’t find the answers. Because what you’re looking for can’t be found in a book.
Create an Attitude of Experimentation
In the improv world, actors are taught to go with the flow. Whatever another actor says on the stage, they have to respond with “yes, and…”
“I’m a doctor and your the patient and we’re in Antarctica, where you’ve just been diagnosed with malaria.”
Gulp. How can you have malaria in Antarctica? And why are you even in Antarctica? And how did those people get in the audience?
“Yes, and I rode a whale here from India, where I was studying mermaid mating rituals before their annual migration. Could I have gotten it from a mermaid?”
And then it keeps going until you accept your Tony award for the best Broadway show of the year.
Or get booed off the stage.
But who knows until you try?
That’s the thing with experimentation. It won’t always work out. But learning how to live with failure is just as important to your life as learning to live with success. And frankly, you won’t get success without a little failure first. It’s just the way it goes.
Don’t believe me? Test it for yourself. 🙂
Saying Yes to Experimentation
Saying yes to opportunities and testing your boundaries is an excellent way to build your best life. That list you made in Step #2 of the way you want your life to look? Now is the time to start testing those desires in small and large ways.
Your list might read:
- Yoga/meditation every morning
- Lunch with a friend
- Travel to an exotic place
- Always have enough money
- Hot sex with your stale partner
That’s a mighty fine list. So let’s see what we can experiment with today, assuming none of those things happened for you yesterday because you’re rushed, broke, stuck at home, and forgot the last time you had sex.
Experiment #1: Wake up 15 minutes earlier for some basic stretching. If you aren’t willing to go to bed 15 minutes earlier to get this goal, do you really want it? And if you find the 15 minutes of stretching an invigorating part of your day, you can add more minutes and an online class until you work out the time to take a live one. We like Yoogaia (and this link gets you a 2-week free trial as of the date we published this post). Either way, you learn something about yourself and further refine your goals.
Experiment #2: When was the last time you invited someone to lunch? If you’re too busy or eating lunch at your desk, there are a couple of options. Skype date your friend while you both suck down a sandwich at your desk, or actually make a date for lunch. Sack lunch in the park? Brunch at a swank restaurant on the weekend? Potluck at your house? Doesn’t matter. Make the plan and do it. And if your first friend is busy, keep asking til you find one who says yes. Because friends who also say yes and make time for you are the best kind to have.
Experiment #3: Want to go somewhere fascinating but don’t have the funds or time? Travel to a new neighborhood in your own town or county. You’ll find ethnic food, art exhibits, concerts, books in the library, and festivals right in your own backyard. The summertime is ripe for festivals of every kind, not to mention farmer’s markets where you can learn more about the agriculture in your own backyard. If you can’t be bothered to travel across town for a new experience, you’ll be hard-pressed to find adventure halfway around the world.
Experiment #4: Leave your credit card at home for a week. Live on cash. If you can’t pay for it now, you don’t need it. Once you become the master of your spending, you become the master of your money. And you’ll always have enough.
Experiment #5: If you have a partner, ask for what you want and deliver what he wants. That’s your recipe for hot sex. He can’t read your mind, and an invitation from a willing partner is a pretty hot start to a night of passion. “You know, I’ve been thinking about hanging upside down naked from the chandelier tonight, and I was hoping you’d join me.” You can’t wish this kind of stuff into being, but learning to ask for it in a very straightforward way will start you down the path of making it a regular occurrence.
And possibly create a need for chandeliers.
Back to the Kitchen
I’m happy to say the dish smells delicious. It’s sitting on the stove right now ready for a taste test.
This is a tiny example of why trying new things gets me excited every day. I love the feeling that I’m heading into the unknown, even when the unknown is all within the confines of the kitchen. I can control how far I want to take it, but there is just enough of the unknown that makes it exciting. Plus, when I find a recipe that we both love I can add it into our repertoire for the future. All those that don’t quite work out simply become opportunities to get closer to the perfect dish.
This is how we live all of our lives. We push our comfort zone. We say yes to opportunities that interest us, even when we have no idea if it will work out. Trying new things allows me to find out what I love (discovering a new recipe)and what I’d rather not do again (skydiving leaps to mind). But in each instance I love that I pushed myself to try it.
Experimenting with something you’ve always wanted to try does not need to be big. You can start as small as trying a different type of food, cooking a new recipe, or visiting a new restaurant (clearly I’m focused on food at this point). Think about something you’d love to try, then set a date to give it a whirl.
What’s the worst case scenario? If you find that you hated it, then you never have to do it again. But what if you find that you absolutely love it and want to add more of this into your life. Suddenly your desire to learn to cook expands into elaborate dinner parties for new friends. Or perhaps you fall in love with hiking and begin a list of the 10 hikes around the world you will do in the next 3 years.
One of the greatest benefits of trying new things is you bump out your comfort zone each time. One day you are trying Indian food for the first time. Next you decide to make a curry at home. Before you know it you are eating a meal in Delhi wondering just how you got there. And if you were able to look back you would discover it all started that day you chose to push yourself to try something new.
It is impossible to create your best life if you are not experimenting to find what you enjoy in all aspects of your life. From love (perhaps there is a new position in the bedroom you’ve been dying to try) to home (would you rather live in the middle of a city and ditch life in the suburbs) the possibilities to try new things are all around you. But be warned, this experimentation is addictive and before you know it you may be changing your life in new and exciting ways as new passions are discovered.
Go and try one new thing this week. No matter how big or small, make the effort to push outside your comfort zone.
As for us, we’re sitting down to enjoy my latest experiment. I’m already making plans for the next.
Want to learn more about creating a life of experimentation? Listen to our latest podcast, where we reveal a few experiments that went horribly wrong!