Instead of Big Goals, Try Small Experiments

Instead of Big Goals, Try Small Experiments

If you tend to start big dreams, ambitious goals or new projects and resolutions and then peter out, here’s something to try that can be a whole lot more fun and fulfilling.

I’m a big dreamer. I love working and playing towards grand visions and big dreams for my life.

I’m a Sagittarian, so my arrow is always aimed at some distant target. I feel energized by having big visions to guide my life. Bold, outrageous dreams inspire me. And I’ve realized some amazing dreams in my life.

But I’m also a huge fan of small experiments and bite-sized intentions or goals.

I love these for (at least) two reasons:

  • Bite-sized goals are the best way to have huge dreams actually come true.
  • Small experiments allow me to try on and accomplish things over a short period of time and to learn valuable new information.

New Moon Intentions and 30-Day Goals

I love playing with New Moon Intentions or 30-Day Goals. These are a great way to conduct small experiments and divide big dreams into do-able steps.

New moon by Nousnou Iwasaki

The cycle of a month or moon cycle is a perfect length for many experiments, intentions and small projects. It’s long enough to try something on or complete a small project, but short enough to keep your attention on it and see the end in sight.

Some of my students prefer 30-day goals, because it’s easier for them to track things by the month, starting a new goal, experiment or intention on the first of the month.

I prefer to start on the new moon because I like to align myself with the natural rhythms of the universe, to be connected to and supported by these rhythms. The new moon is an excellent time for undertaking new projects, as people have known for centuries.

Find out more about drawing on the power of the moon (and 30-day goals too!) here.

At the new moon I tune into my heart and soul and see what naturally arises as calling for my attention, what inspires me, what I’m longing for or drawn to, and/or what has the most energy right now. I trust what comes.

Sometimes it’s a concrete goal like sending poems to five magazines or getting my taxes done. Sometimes it’s an intention like cultivating gratitude and appreciation. A good small experiment is specific, clear and do-able: for example, playing my violin for ten minutes a day five days a week.

Smaller (and Slightly Larger) Experiments 

Some creative experiments lend themselves to even shorter or slightly longer time frames.

You may decide to do something every day for one week. Or you may commit to a program for three months.

Regardless of the length of the experiment, the process is essentially the same.

How To Conduct Your Small Experiments

Aiming at the target

by Annie Spratt, Unsplash

To play with a new goal, intention or small experiment, there are a few simple steps to follow:

  1. Name it clearly in a single sentence as an “I” statement. Here’s a recent example of one of mine “I complete my vision-mapping for the new year, guided by sacred wisdom and heart.” It helps if the language is inviting and compelling to you. Also be clear on the time frame of your experiment, when it starts and ends.
  2. Write it down and post it where you’ll see it daily.
  3. Commit to it 100%.
  4. Read your statement daily.
  5. Take steps toward it daily or weekly.
  6. Track the steps you take by marking it off on a calendar, keeping a log or giving yourself stickers. You could get yourself a cool Steal Like an Artist wall calendar here.
  7. At the end of the time frame, celebrate and reflect on how it went, so you can learn, honor and grow.

Read more about cultivating a new healthy habit in 30 days here.

What’s So Great About Small Experiments?

Small experiments are energizing and can be fun. You get to see real progress.

You also don’t feel trapped into doing something for the rest of your life, which is often a recipe for failure because it’s too daunting.

Small experiments are more honest and do-able. They pique my curiosity without feeling overwhelming. They empower me to try things on that I might not do otherwise.

Pretend You Are a Scientist

I like to approach small experiments with the attitude of a curious scientist.

I take the approach that it is truly an experiment. I’m learning. I am free to stop at the end of the agreed-upon time period, but I commit to conducting the experiment fully until then.

And I track my results in some way.

One Small Experiment I Tried

A few months ago I decided to experiment with doing the Tibetan Five Rites. These are a set of fairly simple exercises that build flexibility and core strength. They are said to promote longevity, youthfulness and health. In fact, the claims made about the benefits of doing these exercises daily are huge.

I had dabbled with doing these exercises off and on for years, but I was never consistent. At the best times I would do them a few times a week. I never noticed any noteworthy changes.

So, I decided to conduct a small experiment. The book about these rites claims that many people see marked changes after doing these exercises for just one month. I committed to doing them every day for a month.

Here’s What Happened

When I started out I had huge resistance to doing the exercises. I had to push myself to start them every day. I didn’t like doing them while I was doing them either. They felt hard and not fun. The first exercise, which involves spinning, made me dizzy and nauseous.

But I figured the resistance would diminish as I did them daily. It didn’t. It never got easier or more enjoyable.

I managed to do them 24 of the 30 days. One day I was traveling all day. A couple days I forgot. I probably just flaked the other 3 days. But 24 out of 30 is pretty good.

The striking thing was: There were no noticeable change in health or youthfulness, nor in enjoyment nor ease of doing the exercises.

What I Learned

These exercises aren’t for me.

It was a great relief to discover this. I’d always felt bad about not doing them more. Now I know I’m not missing out. I like to do sun salutations and other yoga. I love to dance and take walks. And these all give me great benefits.

I also learned that it was hard to be flawless with doing exercise every single day for 30 days, so the following month my small experiment was…

25 walks in 30 days

woman walking in wilds

by Michelle Spencer, Unsplash

I was thrilled from the moment I set this intention. I loved doing it, even when I had to squeeze in a 10-minute walk in the dark at the end of the day.

I hope this inspires you to try your own small experiments. They can be in any area of your life—creativity, relationships, health, home, etc.

What small experiment will you take on for the next 30 days?

Share in the comments below to give it extra power.

If you need help figuring out a good small experiment, post in the comments below what it is you are wanting to focus on, cultivate or do. I will give you a suggestion of a good small experiment to try.

To your fun and fulfilling life,

Maxima

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