It has been a couple of years since I’ve initiated a long-term experiment of any kind. I think the last one was when I published daily for a year.
I began that experiment just as I was about to burn out. I’d committed to the process, though, so I learned from my over-caffeinated mistakes, and stayed the course even though I had a good six months of recovery ahead of me before I started feeling normal again.
The blogging probably helped me process some things I needed to along the way.
As I begin this 90-day experiment, it’s a little like I’m working my way out of a burnout, but a burnout of a decidedly different kind. How I feel right now is a bit like how I felt before leaving for Japan in 2017 – nauseous, exhausted, and emotionally depleted.
(It’s nice to know there’s nothing new under the sun.)
This showed up for me even though I’ve been doing all the right things this year – meditating, working out, getting massages, eating healthy… to be fair, some of these habits did fall in and out of fashion at times.
My only explanation for what I’ve been experiencing in the last few weeks is underlying exhaustion. Something that was stewing beneath the surface that I wasn’t aware of.
(I jokingly called it post-lockdown stress disorder, though there might be some truth to that.)
It’s clear I’m still on the path of recovery, though I feel I can at least see the light at the end of the tunnel now.
And so, I’m ready to embrace a new experiment, one where I intentionally and deliberately choose my inputs as opposed to taking in the same things I always do and expecting to reap greatness.
I watched this video yesterday, and it got me thinking…
If everything I read, listen to, or watch is affecting what I’m manifesting, then I’m not exactly on the track I want to be on. It’s time for a bit of a change, and it’s time for a bit of a detox too, if you will.
Importantly, I wanted to start this experiment to:
Love and forgive myself, and my past, as I never have before.
Love and forgive others as I never have before.
Love God as I never have before.
If I focus on these fundamentals, it’s more than likely that I will manifest amazing things as a byproduct. But that’s not why I’m doing this. I’m doing this because lately I’ve been calling into my life things I don’t want. Nothing disastrous, but nothing desired either.
It has been said that the secret of your future is hidden in your routine. So, it’s my hypothesis that there are things in my routine that aren’t working, and if I make a few simple shifts, I will get myself back on a better track.
What Are the Rules?
I’m allowed to read books, listen to podcasts, or watch videos. But I must intentionally choose things that are uplifting, inspirational, or informative. No fluffy entertainment, and nothing that is fear-based. This is the crux of the experiment.
Meditate three times per week for at least a total of 60 minutes. I currently meditate closer to 90 minutes per day, so this should not be a struggle.
I’m not going to force myself to blog daily about the experiment, though I’m sure I will come quite close in the end.
No porn (definition: anything that turns you on). Some say porn is harmless, others say it’s harmful, and there are plenty of opinions of grey in between. I don’t know either way, but I don’t think addictive behaviors are going to support clear, positive thinking, so I’m abstaining.
But Positive Thinking Doesn’t Work, does it?
For the purposes of this experiment, let’s accept the premise that what you’re thinking about is always manifesting in some way, shape, or form.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that the exact thing you’re thinking about is manifesting. Rather, you’re manifesting the feeling that accompanies the thought.
Let’s say you were annoyed about getting a headache yesterday. You don’t get a headache today, but that feeling of annoyance was significant enough that it brought in more things to be annoyed about today. Maybe you spill your delicious, healthy green smoothie all over the carpet, as an example.
The thing is events themselves are neutral and we can respond to them as we choose. We can laugh about the spilt smoothie. We can become exasperated at the spilt smoothie. We can punch the wall and injure our hand.
So, besides being intentional about inputs, this experiment is also about choosing a response as life shows up.
I know I called this the “Thinking Positively” experiment, but it’s a simplistic (and possibly even crude) title.
The experiment is more so about becoming aware of one’s thoughts and feelings, choosing what to feel, and filling one’s mind with positive inputs.
Onwards & Upwards
Follow along with me if you’d like to see what happens next.
Whether it’s solving cash flow problems or developing a possibility list, we’ve looked at several areas of your career that might require you to stretch your idea muscle.
I’m not criticizing your creativity. I’m sure you’ve come up with a lot of genius lyrics and guitar hooks in your time. You’re a rock star. That’s why you’re here.
But for some reason, artists like to discard that creative hat when it comes to other things like marketing and money, and I’d like to encourage you to be less hasty in casting aside your innate and developed abilities as an artist. Your creativity can serve you well in every area!
As far as I’m concerned, growing your idea muscle will contribute to you being a better problem-solver, and good entrepreneurs are always skilled problem-solvers.
Here are a few ways to keep exercising that idea muscle of yours:
Increase & Broaden Your Input
People are creatures of habit and are quite likely to return to the same news sources, familiar films and TV shows, YouTube channels, and so on.
Having understood this, we need to be quite intentional about finding input that stimulates, challenges, and encourages growth.
Generally, that means looking outside of where you usually look – reading books in categories you wouldn’t normally read, listening to podcasts that aren’t echo chambers of your daily thoughts, watching videos that make you aware of possibilities you never even knew existed.
One of my favorite activities is reading.
Pick a Topic & Generate 10 New Ideas Per Day
Author and entrepreneur James Altucher is famous for using this method, and it’s been his observation that he’s more successful when he’s in the practice of generating 10 new ideas per day, versus not.
I tried this experiment and kept it going for several months. The result was that ideas became easier to generate.
Take Breaks & Change Your Environment
It’s all well and good to stimulate your mind with fresh input and to challenge yourself to come up with new ideas.
But after all that rigorous exercise, it’s just as critical to take time away from your work – take a shower, go for a walk or a drive, maybe even book a brief getaway.
This gives your mind some time to contextualize and connect the dots. And the ideas that form in your downtime tend to be far more exciting than the ones you force yourself to come up with at your desk or in your bedroom.
Going for a walk or a drive or meditating usually work best for me.
I’m a voracious reader of books and prolific consumer of training content.
First and foremost, it’s because I’m looking for breakthroughs in my own work.
And second, I’m always looking for material I can adapt and bring back to my readers, listeners, viewers, and students.
You never know what might produce a breakthrough for yourself or another, given that what’s obvious to you isn’t always obvious to another (and vice versa).
And I know I’m not the only one that’s wired this way.
But in our search for content that’s going to help us, we sometimes forget:
We’re usually not invested in what we don’t pay for
We don’t spend enough time upfront assessing the applicability and utility of the content before consuming it
If we don’t have a specific end in mind, we’re more susceptible to meandering aimlessly and wasting time that could be better allocated
There are teachers who are disproportionately better at teaching and relaying the material we need right now
If we want to make the most of our reading or learning time, then, it stands to reason we’d be better served adopting a simple strategy for choosing input that’s going to offer the best value now.
This is easier said than done, and like me, you might be stubborn and insist on finishing books you started, regardless of their relevancy, but that journey is paved with less breakthrough and excitement overall because it’s generally coming from a place of duty and obligation.
Choosing your input isn’t just about being choosey, though. It’s more about identifying which creative wells are worth drawing from at any moment. Which water will in fact nourish your being and fill you with inspiration?
In summary, we need to go straight to the source. But we’ll need to endure the hard intellectual work of determining what we need to learn now, why we need to learn it now, and how it’s going to apply to our work. Only then will the input have a lasting impact on us.
Quick answer: Read a book. Listen to a podcast series. Take a course. First, take in relevant and inspiring information. Then, take a break. Take a shower. Go for a walk. Drive. Meditate. As your brain works on integrating and synthesizing the information you’ve been consuming, fresh ideas will begin to form. Rinse and repeat until desired outcomes are reached.
Now for the longer answer.
Step #1: Consume Relevant & Inspiring Information
Here are several sources of valuable information:
Coaches and mentors
Experiment. Try staying with a concept or topic for an hour or more. Then, try jumping around from topic to topic as you finish articles or podcast episodes.
Keep digging, reading, listening or watching until you begin to feel excited and/or inspired.
Step #2: Take a Break & Step Away for a While
Once you’ve consumed one or more value-adding resources, try:
Taking a shower
Going for a walk
Going for a drive
Fresh ideas should begin to form in your mind. If not, go back to the first step and try again.
Make sure you have a way to capture your ideas, such as with a voice memo app.
Additional Resources on Generating Ideas
I believe James Altucher to be the foremost expert in this space. Check out his article on becoming an idea machine for more information.
The Leading Musician Coach
Hey! I’m author, entrepreneur, and musician David Andrew Wiebe. Learn more >