Experiment Your Way to Success

You’re unique, and so am I. So, I’ve always been skeptical of articles with titles like “What Eight Incredibly Successful People Do Before Breakfast” or “The Six Things You Must Do to Succeed.”

Sure, it’s true that we humans are a lot alike, but we differ from each other in important ways. Most people, for example, are more productive and less likely to gain weight if they eat breakfast. Not me.

My dad liked to say that he got up and immediately stuck one leg under the breakfast table. Before my mom got cancer, she got up a half hour before him so that breakfast would be ready when he opened his eyes. After she couldn’t do that anymore, he set things up the night before so he could eat as soon as possible after he woke up.

When the nutritionists say, “Everyone should eat breakfast,” they can point to my Dad as proof. But not everyone is wired the same way.

Over and over again throughout my life, I’ve had to learn that when I eat breakfast soon after I get up, two things happen. Number one, I eat more during the day. Number two, my productivity falls.

I don’t know why that it is the case, but it is. Even if everyone else on the planet performs better when they eat breakfast, it’s not true for me. The trick to succeeding your way is to identify how you’re like everyone else and how you’re different.

Keep a Performance Journal

Don’t depend on memory. Keep a performance journal of how you spend your days and how you perform. This doesn’t have to be a big deal. Just note the date and some details. It should only require a sentence or three.

If all you do is make notes, you’re wasting your time. Set aside time, once a week is good, to review your notes. Look for patterns. Pay special attention to sleep, diet, and exercise.

Read the Articles

When you see an article about something that lots of successful people do, read it. Success leaves clues. Identify the behaviors that might work for you. Then, act like a scientist. Take the advice attributed to Wernher von Braun: “One good test is worth a thousand expert opinions.”

Become A Success Scientist

Scientists conduct experiments to discover what works and what doesn’t. Try things to see if they work for you like they do for others.

Use your Performance Journal to keep track of what you try and how it works. Most of the things that will make you more productive are things that lots of people were already doing. Getting a good night’s sleep was one of those things for me.

Some things will work for you, but you’ll have to modify them a little. Many performance gurus suggest that you should spend an hour or so in the morning, preparing for your day. That works for most people I know, but I had to modify the practice. I prepare for the next day the night before. Then, in the morning, I go right to work on something important.

Some things won’t work for you at all, even though they work for everyone else on the planet. Eating a “good breakfast” first thing in the morning was one of those things for me.

So, whatever you try, make it an experiment. Take some notes about what happens when you try something. After that, it’s simple. Keep what works until it doesn’t work anymore.

Bottom Line

Keep trying new things. When you know whether they work or not, keep the good ones and get rid of the rest.

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Photo Credit: Pixabay