12. Measuring weight once daily

Every so often a small change you make turns out to be revolutionary. This incremental one-minute tweak turned out to be my revolution. My body revolution.

A quick recap to catch you up: On this website I’ve been documenting My Year of Micro Experiments series. The idea is simple — to engage in very tiny experiments in living a week at a time, and then gauge the effect.

This is Week 12.

My plan is to tackle different areas over the course of a year:

Body

Spirit and Vision (practices)

Creative work

Productivity

Business (my wife and I own an art gallery)

Relationships (family, friends, orbital)

These are the main themes.

Others are suggesting themselves as I progress through the year.

Because I’d packed on a little bloat, I wanted to start with Body. A change up in routines and eating habits to see what worked for me and what didn’t.

My reasoning is this: Everything would be easier to tackle if I were closer to my optimal body state.

Vitality would be mine! Energy would flow through me like light through fiber optics!

My wife Ann was undergoing her own lifestyle changes as I tackled mine.

(See previous posts for details if you’re curious about micro challenges I’ve taken on so far, the posts that start with a number. As in 1, 2, 7, 10 . . . Each number corresponds to a week’s experiment.)

One day in her soft off-hand so casual she almost didn’t bring it up way, Ann suggested I weigh myself once a day to track my progress. That way I would get daily feedback.

Normally I would have scoffed at that kind of metric. Yeah, I was savvy in the way of weight, how muscle weighs more than fat. I wasn’t going to fall for that!

(Said the guy who never lifts weights….)

But — when you’re in an experimental frame of mind — as I was now — knocking back 52 lifestyle experiments in a year — it sounded appealing.

Why not? I could quit after a week.

I started immediately. It was right around the same time I decided to quit sodas for a couple of months. So I was catching myself — presumably — at the apex of my weight bloat.

What a fun idea to track my descent into Better Fitter Me.

Damn, does weight ever fluctuate when you just pick a random time during the day to weigh yourself. It can vary by up to 2 pounds!

(I quickly discovered.)

So I googled what experts suggested, quickly coming to the realization serious weighers weigh themselves once each morning, after, um, evacuating . . . but before imbibing anything.

This way you are always measuring a similar state — your body’s fasting weight — just before your caffeine of choice and breakfast and the tumult of the day begin. Which is to say before oscillations from intakes and outputs began in earnest.

I mentioned this to Ann. In her casual offhanded manner of total nonchalance, she said:

Yeah, that’s always when I weigh myself, first thing in the morning. It’s the only time you can get consistent results for comparison purposes.

Thank you for mentioning that up front.

I was off.

Within 2 or 3 days a little miracle occurred: I wanted to weigh myself!

Each morning’s number gave immediate feedback on the previous 24 hours. Longer exercise and remaining moderate in my intake sloughed off weight!

And girth too, I began to notice.

Between not eating at night and getting in respectable exercise each day, I could predict the steady drop as fat stores burned off.

That and being mostly vegetarian. Flexitarian to the cognoscenti — or flexiterranean as I like to call my Mediterranean diet spiked by the occasional hamburger when I regress.

I began weighing myself on October 31. Flash forward to the first of the new year. I’d dropped more than 10 pounds! Seemingly effortlessly.

Let me get exclamation point heavy again one last time:

Through the freaking holidays!

I think that says it all.

It’s now been four additional months since then. Though I’ve reverted to a more flexible eating regimen, the morning weigh in remains a constant.

Without doubt this morning weigh in has been a riotous success. The kind you want to bury in a time capsule and lodge deep in the earth for future earthlings to uncover.

This small tweak far eclipsed other micro experimental results I’d imagined would have fared better.

This is why I do it — when the unexpected yields results, it revs you up for more. More tweaks. More challenges. More nano experiments.

The occasional happy success gets you through the ineffectual times.

A secondary result, one championed by my sister Charlene, is that her morning weigh ins help keep her in her optimal weight range.

She’s got a 4-pound range, can you believe it?

When she gets to the lower end of that range she lays off the salads a little and leans into foodstuffs that will cling to her. When she hits the upper range, she throttles back on the comfort foods.

It turns out she’s been doing this weigh in thing for years.

It also turns out — as I blabbed about my enchantment with the process to all and sundry — that a few of my friends also weigh in daily. Who knew so many people did this in secret?


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11. One splurge day a week

Fresh into the success of (finally) going without sodas for two months, I realized I needed to curtail my other sugary excess: desserts.

Normally I didn’t crave desserts, I’m pretty sure because I was drinking sodas often. Ample sugar was being imbibed already.

But as soon as I quit sodas ice cream, brownies, cookies and ice cream began sneaking in with greater regularity.

Week 11 of The Year of Micro Experiments as simple: Indulge only one splurge day a week for dessert.

This turned out to be the first triumphant all-in success of the micro experiments. It went off exactly as intended, no deviations.

It may have been the accruing momentum of the micro challenges overall, or riding on the coattails of No Sodas success — either way it was a breeze. Demonstrating that if you keep trying tiny innovations eventually one will come easy.

We like the easy. It encourages more.

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The Creator’s dilemma

Here’s an excerpt from an upcoming bookito of mine I think you’re going to enjoy:

The Artist, The Mystic, and The Scientist
Overcome The Creator’s Dilemma —
Create at Your Playful, Soulful, Experimental Best

. . . . . . .

The place we find ourselves in

We creators want to add our note to the cacophony — we want to create something meaningful. We want to disturb the matrix, we want to insert our song into the songbook, we want to play in the pool . . . but not by ourselves.

This bookito is for creators. It’s not for those who are ‘just doing it for themselves.’ That’s a hobby, a pastime, a piffle. This is for creators who want to engage and weave their part in the great human tapestry — you. At the core of this text is the understanding that we want to create because we want to participate.

If you don’t want to participate there are monasteries and the Sunday New York Times for you. Or for some unlucky few, vast inheritances. Monk life can disappear you for a lifetime; the Sunday newspaper for a day; your digital devices, indefinitely.

All creators have an artform.

Or several. It may be actual art — sculpture, video, books, hip hop.

It may be fast-charging thrill-to-thrill adventures.

It may be a chill lifestyle — my dream life — with ample time for unhurried thought and connection.

It may be a home so nurturing even deadened souls want to hang out there — discreetly — in between lifetimes.

It may be genuine service to others at every opportunity (wish I could claim this is me, but really it’s my brother).

It may be an indie biz, a craft, a calling, a mission, a quest.

To live the artful life — however it appears to you in your waking dreams — it helps to do it soulfully.

Soulful doesn’t take away pain when someone cheats on you or the terrible reckoning when you lose the savings you’ve accumulated over many years, but it does make you fluid.

Like water.

When you think soulful, think water. You know you want to splash in the water — you do!

You want to be the water in all its flowy glory. Whether it is pooled or coursing or dripping or evaporating, water takes the easiest path.

Soulful is fluid, flexible and patient.

Soulful is Easeful.

Playful.

Joyful.

Loveful.

Laughful.

Smileful.

Meaningful.

Purposeful.

Real.

The moment we seek to create something fulfilling chaos envelops us. Before even. Chaos is the condition of a universe without fate, without predetermination. Chaos is a trillion trillion objects energies lifeforms moving on their own trajectories, not yours.

There’s a way to dispel the snarl of chaos . . . the sense of futility inside, the urgency outside.

Bring your soul into it.

If you want to go soulful it helps to have the Artist, the Mystic and the Scientist in your pocket.

. . . . . . .

The Artist is the creator.

The Mystic is the soul source.

The Scientist is the brainpower.


. . . . . . .

[Coming this summer: The Artist, The Mystic and The Scientist]
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7. Stevia: Some micro changes come easily

This micro change started out the best of them all! Because when I began — so casually it could easily have been missed — it was unplanned.

Week 7 of My Year of Micro Experiments began with a comment from my friend Mike Cohen — founder of the neurofeedback Center For Brain Training.

We go to breakfast once or twice a week. This time Mike had to leave early after a fast meal to go save another brain. Just before he departed, he saw me loading up on artificial sweetener again, as is my wont with my ice tea in the mornings.

And do I ever like my ice tea — two to three glasses. Meaning two to three packets of this chemical compound straight not out of nature.

Mike:I hope you switch to stevia someday. It’s so much better for your brain — and your gut biome.”

Me: “Yeah, I know, but I’ve tried it and didn’t like the taste. Especially the aftertaste.”

Mike: “There are a number of varieties, why don’t you try some others?”

That was it. An expression of concern for my health — my mental health! — from someone in the mental health field.

After he left I glanced over at the sweetener tray — Stevia In The Raw — couldn’t believe it was there — hadn’t noticed stevia as an option in the diners and breakfast places I frequented.

So I tried it.

It wasn’t so bad. Less sweet than the artificial sweeteners, which I had to carefully aportion to not over sweeten. FAR less sweet than sweet tea, which, God, how did I ever drink that dreck in my overspent youth–

Here’s the thing about micro experiments. Once you get on this path, your mind opens up to micro change.

Knowing you can ditch it after a short while let’s you off the hook — the main obstacle to so much we wish to change is the heavy thought, “For the rest of my life?! For eternity??”

Why even try?

But for a week? That seems so inconsequential. So little effort. Especially after engaging weeks of sequential small changes.

In this case with stevia, I wasn’t even thinking a few days, I was thinking, I’ll try this now, the packet is here.

Later at home I mentioned to Ann the stevia I’d tried didn’t really suck. She opened a cabinet and pulled out some packets of Truvia, another stevia variant.

Ann: “Why not try these?”

Me: “Whoa. How did you happen to have these here?”

Ann, sly smile: “I’ve been hoping for a couple of years you might try these at some point.”

She too had hoped to quell my artificial sweetener jones….

In my backpack they went — it’s my mobile office, going with me everywhere I go.

Next day, tried ‘em and haven’t gone back. There’s a slight taste adjustment, but not like when I gave up Mountain Dew almost two years prior.

Even still, I wasn’t imagining that switching to stevia would become a tweak of the week, not till Day 3. Then it was, why not?

Writing this many weeks later affords some powerful hindsight. In this case stevia has become part of my life. Once or twice in the intervening weeks I ran out of the stevia packets in my backpack — and found myself pining for it when sugar and artificial sweeteners were the only items at hand.

When I committed to a year of micro experiments I didn’t realize how much it would loosen up strongly-held patterns. Everything was on the table. If it was a small change, why not? 

My routines became more malleable in the light of micro experiments. Never would I be attempting something dramatic — to the contrary, because each change by definition had to be small scale, it became playful.

And once playing this weekly micro-change game, my mind scanned for opportunities for incremental betterment.

The upside has been a surprising willingness to let my curiosity take me where it wants.

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6. No sodas: A story of abysmal and repeated failure that led . . . eventually to sparkling (water) success

Sometimes failure is just failure. You miss the mark by miles and move on. Sometimes, however, failure prompts a better effort.

Sometimes failure begets more failure … that then … eventually … forces a turnabout.

That last sentiment reflects how Week 6 of My Year of Micro Experiments went.

The goal of Week 6 was simple: No sodas.

Not for any days of the week. No cheat days allowed. Splurge days I call ’em. Makes it sound more like release than sin.

I made it 5 days. That weekend I went off program and didn’t come back. Which in this case was unacceptable.

I know me — Soda Me will take a splurge day and turn it into a splurge year.

So I re-upped for another week. At first I thought, What about at least 6 days in a row, maybe one splurgey day?

No no no, let’s go for 7 . . . see if you can give the crap up!

I used cokes as backup when I gave up Mountain Dew almost two years ago — because I don’t like it that much. But a couple days a week turned into many. For months on end. Not cool.

Especially when I began adding other sugary confections into the mix. Which added waistline. In a carb-heavy diet, girth happens.

More failure then abrupt success

This is the point in the Year of Micro Experiments where — at times — I embarked on two concurrent tweaks in the same week. Which later led to something similar though not identical: Running two overlapping experiments that started on different days.

You get one running and then add another. When timeframes and context were different, this went smoothly.

For example: One micro change in the morning, another in the evening.

Or, one at work, one for home.

The second week repeating the No Soda micro experiment I failed even worser. It was 3 or 4 days of sodas.

I went for it again — the third week of the same micro experiment.

This time it was laughable. I made it a day. I think. I was no longer recording successes or failure. After that I sloshed in sodas. I was awash in soda. I glugged sodas like they were the answer to all my problems.

November was coming and my brain — always looking for the easy out — decided October 31st would be the ideal time to have the last soda and then go on a soda detox for the remainder of the year.

October 31st, which was, what?, a week and more away. Whoa, it was Coca Cola gluttony.

Never have you seen a man puff out so quickly. I drank up to 3 a day!

It was gross. The Bloat took over my torso. Others took to calling me Puff Daddy. So I imagined. I could see thought bubbles circling people’s heads.

Then . . . wild unfettered triumph

November 1st rolled around . . . and I quit. (!) Cold turkey. I’m writing this almost six weeks later and still not one drop of soda has touched my pure lips.

So — failure upon failure upon failure. How did I turn it around?

I’d like to say it was two-fold:

1. Glorious excess

. . . leading to feeling gross beyond measure

Then . . .

2. A vision of who I could be in the New Year

The low followed by this resplendent vision of myself lean and nimble again, leaping over daffodils, dragonflies darting in halos about me, hair flowing in the wind —

I always have hair in my idealized version of myself — in the same way as we age we still feel twenty — or thirty — or whatever magical age number we were when we were in our prime.

November 1st rolled around and that was it. I was resolute. I suddenly identified with 2019 Me more than 2018 Summer And Fall Me.

The moral of this story?

Don’t stop. Don’t stop quitting something you ought to quit. One of those times will stick.

Also — when especially grossed out about your smoking habit, your unflossed teeth, your pimply fast-food-fed skin, your sloth, your downward spiral, your anything — when sufficiently disgusted by your current self, tap into Near Future You, who you are/will be when you’re in optimal mode.

Let Near Future You draw you forward … Unacceptable You will recede into the rear-view mirror.

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4. The day begins the night before

Does this recur in your life like it does in mine? That you relearn what you learned previously then forgot?

I was first struck by this in my mid to late twenties, going through my journals from several years earlier. I was reading through an intense period before, during and after a semester abroad in Australia. When I really learned to frolic.

After catching up on that wild year, filled with young ardor and couplings and bumblings and much else, I realized that much of what I’d learned then I was having to relearn now five or six years hence.

The too muchness of it.

That simply by living out loud, exuberantly, you were bound to disappoint others.

It pained me then — in my early twenties and again in my mid-twenties — how much living a little too fast and loose pained others.

I was relearning something I should have locked down: To be more careful with the feelings of others.

To be clearer that I was living a kind of vagabond relationship life, setting up camp only briefly here and there.

In a word: Thoughtfulness.

In another word: Empathy.

In a string of words I probably used at that time: Get your shit together and become an adult, man!

Today’s excess has to be paid back with interest tomorrow.

Another thing I had to relearn.

Which leads me obliquely to this week’s micro experiment. Relearning a valuable life tool: Planning for the next day at the end of this one.

When I was living The Creative Morning Challenge this past year, this simple hack resurrected itself and made my days flow so much easier. Thirty days of getting up at an ungodly early hour was smoothed by this process — I’d already planned out my morning, my day, the night before.

I just needed instinct to kick in — and a glass of water.

And to pee.

Then I was off on a tear.

Week 4 of my Year of Micro Experiments went decently. I only missed one day.

Not bad considering my planning is a little elaborate — I draw out a simple grid on the top sheet of an 8.5 by 11 yellow pad in a folio I keep with me at all times. Down the left side of the sheet run the hours of the day, every other line, starting at 6 am — going till 7 pm.

I bisect the page with a line running down the middle — not the middle really, the hours of the day are a one-third column on the left. The right column is two-thirds of the page.

The right side is where I break down what I intend to tackle for the day.

In segments I separate out — for Body, for Spirit, for Gallery, for The Work, for Home, for Vision, for Connection — you get the idea.

Overly elaborate, I know!

But that’s me. I like the versatility of this format. After a couple years of going pure digital I had to go back to a handwritten system.

Like an artisan, a pizza maker, a masseuse, I need to do it by hand.

There’s something so righteous about crossing out what you’ve written down.

Picked up Zane? 

Cross that sucker out.

Engaged in The Work for at least an hour? (My creative practice . . . )

Victory. Cross it out.

That’s what Week 4 was about — re-establishing a habit I’ve had before, planning out my next day at the end of the day prior.

It takes 15 minutes, even my draw-grids-on-paper version. Not a lot. But what punch it packs the next morning.

You get up, glance at your Day Page — that’s what I call it — and ease right into it. No need to figure anything out. It’s there, revving my engine.

I relearned this in Week 4: The day begins the night before.

I first realized this way back in my twenties. The phrase was solely about sleep back then.

Now it’s gathered mystical force in my life, that phrase speaks a druid-level truth to me — that if I envision my day the night before, some kind of good juju gets infused into my waking hours.

I’ve mostly continued with this practice since Week 4. (I’m writing this more than a week since Week 4 ended.)

Don’t you love it when good things become addicting? 

 

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3. Pre-New Year’s resolutions, you could say

Here’s the thing about a tweak a week. It gives you permission to nudge yourself in the direction you want to go without having to undertake a massive exhaustive overhaul of the way you live.

(Which too often is a recipe for collapse of the new regimen anyway — how many can sustain radical, encompassing change?)

Week 3 of my Year of Micro-Experiments

The goal: Eat within a 10-hour window

Much has been said recently about the efficacy of intermittent fasting. The premise is simple — by abstaining from food for regular periods of time your body thrives better in a world of affluenza eating and sit-all-day working, sit-all-evening entertainment.

Good and beneficent processes kick in:

  • You burn fat stores
  • You stop loading more into your overly sated system
  • Your body clears out the discharge from our Western lifestyle and foodstyle
  • You eliminate the timeframe in which you’d eat one of your meals
  • You no longer pack food freight into your system as you head to sleep, which then only has one place to go: Storage aka fat cells aka Evan’s midsection aka the Tummy of Love

One version of intermittent fasting has you eating in an 8-10 hour window. For me it meant cutting off by 5:30 each afternoon, or sooner.

Like many life tweaks we make, I’d already been leaning in this direction. After a summer of gluttony I wanted to get back to leaner ways.

Also, I had a cool idea.

Instead of plowing through the holiday season packing candy (hello Halloween), pies and overeating (thank you very much, Thanksgiving), overeating and wanton deserts of all stripes (Christmas, you know that’s you) into my willing mouth — and then engaging in a finale of excess for New Year’s — why not optimize my way through the fall so that the end of the year is a real celebration instead of an overdue reckoning?

I want to glide into the New Year having already rebooted.

Though I’m not going so far as to issue pre-New Year’s resolutions, this fanciful thought is at the core of my upcoming weekly tweaks.

Week 4 will be a creative reboot.

Week 5 will be . . . shhhh . . . I’m getting ahead of myself, gotta leave a little mystery.

So, how did it go?

Decently, thank you.

Except Wednesday. Ann made something too delicious to be denied. Sitting here now I can’t even recall what it was, but what a temptress! There I am in monk mode and she slides out something tasty, something appealing, something worth gobbling without hesitancy.

The rest of the week was relatively effortless though.

(5:29 did often find me in front of our nut containers downing 3 honking cashews — I’ve never seen cashews like these, the size of a thumb joint — a palmful of pecans, maybe a few lightly-salted peanuts, and most definitely a nano heap of sunflower seeds.)

When you’re already leaning in a direction — wanting to eliminate evening meals — making a change feels organic, instinctive, rewarding even.

For example:

When I’m on the road by myself doing art treks to various destinations around the country, I skip dinner. A good breakfast, a snack and an adequate late lunch are all I require.

Every time I returned from the road I felt bloated and blottoed by the evening meal — once you’ve lost that lovin’ feeling for fullness it starts to feel especially gross as the evening wears on.

Then Ann bought a book about optimal health by Dr. Mercola. She was reading it in the bathtub. Which meant I was reading it in the bathtub.

Not simultaneously, we’re not that sexy cute after our decades together, but alternatingly (can I coin this here and now??).

You know how you hope to glean at least one useful info bit from each nonfiction book you read? The intermittent fasting concept presented by Dr. Mercola appealed to me! I’d already been doing it on the road. I was a natural at this.

His version has since tightened to 6 hours, from the 8 to 10 hour window recommended in his book a couple of years back. (Check out a simple graphic here.)

I jumped in and never looked back. I went strong for a year or more until this summer of gluttony. We headed out on our summer family art trek, visiting multiple artists in multiple states — countries even, since we hooked up with a painter and a glass-blowing team in parts of Canada.

Normally we splurge the first day out. For me it’s those little plastic chocolate donuts. For Ann — I don’t remember what it is for Ann. Something ba-aaa-ad.

We splurged — and never stopped splurging. Not even when the trip ended 4.5 weeks later.

Until now.

When you’re eager for a change it fulfills itself.

And Sweet Jamaica I feel lighter and cleaner and leaner already.

Followup:

I’m writing each tweak of the week about 8 days after that particular mini-challenge has ended. This gives me insight into what sticks and what doesn’t.

The following week my pattern was identical: 6 nights I ceased eating by or before 5:30, one night I ate dinner.

That schedule suits me. It gives me the flexibility to choose one night a week to abandon myself to a meal of my choosing. The remaining 6 days solidify this new template for my eating self.

What does this have to do with connected creative living?

Everything.

Those of you who’ve been at the creative life awhile know that your bodily vessel affects your work.

The cleaner the engine, the better the output.

The leaner the chassis, the greater the mileage.

The lighter the load, the punchier the prose.

Something like that.

When your body’s better, your mind’s unfettered.

Ideas pop.

Creativity flows.

Your capacity for higher level work expands.

The pre-New Year’s arc is on track. Wouldn’t it be cool to hit New Year’s so jacked and healthy that your sole resolution is to eat ice cream for a week, to moderate from your impossibly high standards?

Consider joining me, crafting your own unique plan of course. Tweaking something at work or home or the spaces in between each week.

The beauty is this: After the week’s tweak is over you needn’t carry it further into your lifestyle. If it doesn’t want to stick, you don’t have to make it.

Feel your way forward micro-experiment by micro-experiment. As you dream up small changes you’d like to make, you’ll find one or two have greater pull for you as each new week dawns.

Now that I’m rolling, I’m finding the excitement building. Rather than its opposite — disinterest — I’m keenly intrigued to launch a new change as each week comes to a close.

And because by definition each change I’m contemplating must be small, there’s a surprising easiness to the process. This ease of execution seems to be the secret. One small adaptation after another accrues momentum.

Perhaps the biggest revelation to date is how fun it’s been!

As though a whisper is turning into a roar — or a giggle into a blissed-out brain state.

 

#TweakOfTheWeek

#52Tweaks

 

 

 

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2. Feed your head: Jefferson Airplane had it half right

That’s our local turkey

When I was a druggie we all grooved to Jefferson Airplane’s White Rabbit. Grace Slick screamed at us to Feed your head, and we complied.

Decades removed from that scene — who was that guy?! — I now think of that phrase metaphysically. Feeding my head means ingesting books, videos and conversations that uplift me, make me soar with the dragons, run with the wolverines.

It’s also about feeding my soul.

Meditation. Visualization. Connection. All the practices that dial up the wondrous and the woah of this life.

Week 2 of My Year of Micro Experiments leans heavily in that direction. Feeding my soul.

It was about connecting with my 15-year-old son.

Up until a year and a half ago or so we used to play in the pool all the time during the warmer months. I’m in Florida, I hear what you’re saying, aren’t they all warmer months??

Even here the winter months are a little too chill for hopping into an unheated pool. Sure, if you’re Nordic you’d bust out your teeny Euro-thong bathing suit, the temperature is still above ice melt. But for us, once it drops below lukewarm bathwater, we wait out the winter.

That’s how we mark Spring in the tropics, when you can breezily hop back into the pool without toe testing it first.

Every parent connects with their children through shared experience. For me and the Z it was watching wrestling for a year or more — the fake kind. That’s how far love will go. For a parent steeped in the art world, who loves reading and NPR and TedTalks, this was crawling into the sweaty armpit of our culture, all for the sake of connecting with my son.

Thankfully he’s moved on to YouTubers and The Office recently. But still, I’ve always been his outdoor parent, the one who plays outside with him. The active parent.

My tweak of the week came in a flash when Z compelled us to get a small weight set and bench: My goal was to work out with him every day for a week.

It would become the basis of our new connection adventure. It wasn’t necessarily outdoors, though it was physical.

But Zane was having none of it.

On Day One he was like: Hey, work out on your own time. I can’t wait for you.

I was like: But it will be fun if we do pushups and stuff together.

And he was like: I do pushups and pullups on a moment’s notice. I’ve already done 100 pushups today and 20 pullups. Why don’t you go and do some on your own?

On Day Two I managed to squeak in 10 pushups with him late at night. And then later in the week we shot basketball together.

That was it. The end of the week was a bust when I suddenly had to run across the state to rescue my Mom (MomJo!) from a condo mold situation.

Because I’m writing this a week later — yes, Week 3 is already in the can, I can’t divulge results just yet, so don’t ask me to — because of this time lag the obvious failure was not so apparently failure afterall.

We played basketball three times this past week. At his request.

Also, though it’s no longer a goal to work out with Zane every day, it’s in my mind to do so whenever the opportunity comes up. Having that as a mild background wish makes it more likely to happen when the stars and our timing aligns.

This is the interesting thing about micro experiments. Even when your results are uninspiring the aftereffects might still surprise you.

 

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52 Weeks: The Year of Micro Experiments

Join me, won’t you?

I’m embarking on a year of micro experiments, one each week.

These will be experiments in how I approach my creative work, family time, body input (eating), body output (exercise), time usage, shutting down at the end of the day for reals because I most often don’t, as well as some spiritual tinkering along the way.

Let’s talk micro for a minute.

I’m emphasizing the micro. Small changes.

If it’s not easy, if it’s not small and incremental, if it doesn’t slide happily and without fuss into my busy schedule then this likely won’t be the year to try it.

Cuz . . .

I like my life as it is. I just want to improve upon it.

Since the coming of the scale-it-up-to-11 digital startup era much has been made of moonshots: Those impossibly galactic goals so colossal they eclipse the sun if you get the trajectory right. Knocking out competitors and disrupting the status quo of a thousand years too, if you do it really well.

I’m the opposite. I’m more of a pebble shot kind of guy. With a slingshot.

At heart I’m an incrementalist.

Sure, like you, I’ve made quantum bets — choices that ruptured all that came before. Moving to NYC from Florida. Quitting well-paying jobs for adventure. Moving into a van and driving around the country looking for an art town to move to. Diving into the unknown, like starting an art gallery after spending not one minute in the business.

Still, really, I believe most in tweakage. Small iterative tweaks that build. I believe most in incremental change that amps up into momentum.

Because:

Momentum becomes trajectory becomes inevitability.

Having mooned over micro . . . counterintuitively I’ll be kicking off the series with something macro: My DIY Creative Retreat.

I’ll be serving up that post next. About this past week where my friend Travis Thomas — book him now as a speaker or a coach while you can still afford him — and I created a home-based retreat on the fly.

(While we were doing the retreat Travis had this brilliant idea I can’t share, because it’s his idea to share on his timeframe . . . but I will come back and link to it here when he does announce it . . . and his idea spurred this idea, micro experimenting my way through the next year.)

After the DIY Creative Retreat piece I’ll post each weekend about the #TweakOfTheWeek.

You don’t need to tweak something every week, though wouldn’t it be cool if you engaged in a small life experiment for a week at some point? Maybe several . . .

Join me, won’t you?

 

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Go smaller (on your big gauzy dream)

In a recent short podcast Jon Acuff goes counter-intuitive: For those having difficulty jumping into a project, making a change, taking an action, Acuff says cut your goal in half.

Don’t aim to lose 10 pounds, make your goal 5 pounds. Then when you hit a 7-pound loss you’ll feel triumphant and aim for more. If you only lose 7 pounds when your goal was 10, you’ll feel like the biggest loser and not in a good way.

Can’t manage to work on your side hustle for an hour a day? Don’t accept defeat, go for 30 minutes. If that fails, make 15 minutes your daily goal.

Once you rack up wins the momentum will carry you to more.

Not only is this a sound philosophical change from the Big Hairy Goals concept for those who can’t get started, Acuff backs it up with research. Those who cut their goals in half are much more likely to make progress.

Like 63% more. There’s a study.

Because I believe in the power of vision I offer this amended haiku of a formula:

Big Dream, Smallest Possible Step

A big gauzy dream engenders an internal change bigger than the actions needed to get there. A big dream changes what we imagined our reality to be.

I currently have a big gauzy dream — of a series of bookitos on the connected creative life that will spread across America faster than fake news.

When we allow a big dream to smolder inside we alter who we think we are. Fan the embers of that new dream long enough and we begin to believe we can be that dream self someday.

I use the word gauzy to imply hazy . . . indistinct . . . not seen clearly . . . daydreamy.

A vision strong enough to excite us must also change our trajectory. By definition we won’t see the endpoint with absolute clarity.

When Stephen King wrote Carrie he could in no way have foreseen he’d become the cultural icon he is today. Though he almost certainly had a wispy imprecise vision of making a living as a writer, quitting his teaching gig, maybe even buying a bowling ball.

(Jigsaw puzzles, playing guitar and bowling are three of his pastimes.)

Dream the big gauzy dream and make your one true goal the smallest possible step you can take toward it. Feebly or forcefully or frolicking, however you attain it you will want to achieve another. And another. And another.

Sure, dream of your first marathon, but make your first goal to run to the end of the block. Or next door. Or to the sidewalk. Whatever is the smallest possible goal you’ll act on.

Dream of artistic glory; make your goal 30 minutes of creative practice a day.

Or 15. Or 5. Whatever is the smallest doable step . . . .

You buy a lapdesk and years later you’re working from your home office — as I did once, and am now.

Once you lock down your smallest possible step your big gauzy dream will compel you to enlarge — your goal and yourself.

 

Check out this short podcast by Jon Acuff on going smaller:

http://jonacuff.libsyn.com/05-for-the-people-in-the-parking-lot

 

PS: I sure love a semicolon. Extra points for you if you can find it in 3 seconds.

Mr. Marcus only allowed 9th graders to use semicolons. As a 7th grader you’d drop a letter grade on any paper for using one incorrectly. I promptly used one in the next paper. Tragically I forgot the verb in the opening sentence.

Imagine I did that in the prior sentence. It would read thusly:

Tragically I the verb in the opening sentence.

I dropped two letter grades for that.

[Mr. Marcus upped me a letter grade for the theme of the paper — on what the future might look like: When I was at a loss my Mom (MomJo!) suggested a remote device allowing teachers to give a mild electric shock to students acting up in class. Mr. Marcus likee.]

 

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