Life Experiments

- Subscribe to updates .

“Why not just make it an experiment?” I had never thought of that. I didn’t know I could just call it an experiment. Though I do small life experiments all the time, I needed someone to challenge me to make a bigger experiment.

When I was first considering quitting my job at a restaurant to give more time to photography and begin the Meaning Movement, I felt scared of it not working out. Although I wanted to quit, I hated the thought of taking the leap and then having to go back to serving tables if I failed. Though I knew that no one was keeping score and that I didn’t need to prove something, I felt a lot of pressure connected to quitting that job and stepping out on my own and being self-employed (going “Off the Grid” as one friend calls it). I couldn’t shake the pressure and the fear.

It was in the midst of those feelings that my friend Ryan asked me, “Why not just make it an experiment?”

Why not? Though I have had other life experiments before, I hadn’t felt the permission to think about this shift in that way.

Life Experiments are a valuable way to play with options and explore possibilities relate to work and life-direction. When something is an experiment, discovering the results are part of the process. It’s less about success or failure and more about the question: what would happen if I tried this?

When you’re stuck at a fork in the road or just considering a new endeavor, experimenting is a good way to see how it fits.

In science, experiments usually have a hypothesis or theory that is being tested as true or false. Scientific experiments are the basis for all that science considers to be knowledge. In life, an experiment is a open-ended entry into some new territory for the purpose of learning and discovery. It can be an opportunity to test a hypothesis: if Dan quits the restaurant, he can get by on other means — or it can be more open ended: what happens if Dan does this?

Thinking in terms of life experiments gives you permission that you might not feel otherwise. By experimenting, you get to be more objective and remove yourself from the situation. You get to be a scientist for a moment, not just the lab rat.

I needed help finding that permission. And I want to help you find your own.

Here’s where this gets extra interesting: let’s do some life experiments. I’ll tell you about mine tomorrow (spoiler alert: I need your help). And, I’d love to hear about yours now. What kind of life experiments can you try to move you toward discovering or doing work that matters? How can you put your toe in the water, wade in, or just jump into the deep end to see what would happen next? Click here to comment!

Dan Cumberland is on a mission to push you into the places meaning, life, & work intersect. He is the author of The Meaning Manifesto. Read more about him here, and connect with him on facebook and twitter.

There Are 5 Comments On This Post.

  1. What’s happening tomorrow?????

    Here’s my 2014 experiment: only striving for things that I love to do as opposed to things I think I should do. And if that means the things I love don’t bring in money right now then I’ll pay the bills another way rather than pushing myself toward something I’m not… or at least am not ready for yet.

    • You’ll have to wait for tomorrow and see 😉

      I love the experiment. It feels right for your year ahead.

  2. Anna Hamberg

    Oooh what an intriguingly joyful way of leading life!

  3. Joanne

    I didn’t have to jump into the deep end of the pool because I was pushed. About two months ago, I was fired from my job. It was sudden, shocking, and traumatizing for me and all my colleagues. But I can now look back and see how getting fired was just what I needed to take a leap of faith. I was offered a first grade teaching position at a high-needs school, and I know truly this is where I am supposed to go next. 🙂

    • Wow. That sounds difficult and quite a roller coaster! I’m so glad you’ve landed in a rewarding place

Add your voice

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *