6 Week Experiments: An Alternative To New Year Resolutions

I’m not a fan of New Year Resolutions, so this year, as every year, I haven’t made any.

I’m trying something different instead…. I’m going to try a number of 6 week experiments.

The idea is simple. Pick something that I think could be useful, helpful​​​ or healthy – or something that I’m not sure about and want to try out – and give it a try for 6 weeks.

I was inspired to think in 6-week blocks after coming across the idea in relation to planning and project cycles in business (for instance, this is the process adopted by Basecamp) and I realised that it would also work very well for health and well-being related lifestyle changes and alterations.

The idea of 6 weeks is that it’s long enough to notice if there’s any effect (and get some benefit), but short enough to keep up momentum and not get bored.​​ Psychologically, a 6 week experiment seems much more do-able to me than a vague general plan along the lines of ‘turning over a new leaf’.

Plus, you can fit in a lot of 6-week experiments in a year (even if you only start now, at the beginning of Feb, there’s room for 7, plus 5 weeks off!)​​

You can use a 6 week experiment to test an idea, or to implement something that you think you should be doing but have found it hard to put in to practice. Or, just for fun, to see what happens!

​​The plan is to make sure that whatever it is you’re trying gets done DAILY during that 6 weeks. So to start, I recommend something that’s easy to do and only takes a short while every day. Testing out a new supplement would fit in to this category.

Some different experiments I’m considering:

  • Supplementation with a mixture of medicinal mushrooms (current thoughts, reishi + cordyceps + lions mane)
  • Starting every day with a short walk (for sunlight exposure – to set my circadian rhythm for the day)
  • No alcohol
  • No refined sugar​​​​​​​
  • Repetition of a specific exercise multiple times during the day (Pavel’s concept of ‘Greasing The Groove’ – you can google it if you’re interested)
  • Finishing my daily shower with a blast of cold water (inspired by Wim Hoff)

No doubt your list would look a little different, but that might give you an idea. Think about both things you’d like to cut out or stop doing and things like to introduce or start doing. Generally speaking, starting something new is easier than stopping something.

Think in advance about what you can do to make sure that you stick to the daily implementation. Some ideas:

  • If once per day, do it at the same time of day (or, at the same point in your daily routine)
  • Stick a post-it note reminder somewhere you’re bound to see it eg bathroom mirror
  • Set a daily alarm on your phone
  • Ask someone you live with to remind you
  • For supplements, if you think you’ll forget to take them keep the tub out somewhere on display, not hidden in a drawer. Even better if you put it somewhere that you’re sure to interact with it – eg on top of the kettle so you’re reminded every day when you first make a cup of tea
  • If it’s something that can be done at any time of day, put a reminder note on your pillow, so that you’re reminded to do it before bed if you haven’t already done so during the day

And final tip: don’t bite off more than you can chew – especially if your experiment is something that will take time out of your day. Set the goal LOW so it’s achievable.

Want to go for a daily run? Set your goal at 10mins per day, not half an hour. That way, you can always do a little bit more some days if you feel like it, but the daily goal is much more achievable. You don’t have the pressure of having to find half an hour in a bust day, but on a less busy day, you can always extend your run to half an hour if you choose.

And lastly… let me know how you get on!