I don’t enjoy being wrong. Because of this fear, I sometimes avoid doing things that I should do. I look at things as a success or failure without other consideration.
I’m working on fixing this. How? Self-experimentation.
How Have I Used Self-experimentation?
One case is the ecommerce business I’m working on.
When I started, I wanted the right product. I didn’t want to strike out and risk losing thousands of dollars.
So I tried something. I wouldn’t commit myself to a product early on. Instead, I looked at what I was doing as an experiment.
My experiment was to test out one product. Only after testing would I make a decision on whether it was worth selling.
I will sell one unit per day without any advertising or promotion.
First things first: I identified what the first product I would test was. Next, I needed to find a supplier that allowed me to place a small initial order.
Once I found one, I bought 20 units and waited two weeks to receive them in the mail. Once I received those 20 units, I put them up for sale on Amazon. A week went by with zero sales. I assumed this experiment failed…
On day 8 I received my first order. After which, I continued to sell one unit per day until I was completely sold out.
Now I had a decision to make.
I got the result I was hoping, but it took a little longer than expected. What should I do?
I knew this was a product that would sell consistently. People seem to want it, and there isn’t a ton of competition.
I deliberated for three weeks. I was so nervous about making a large investment in a big order. But this experiment made my decision a little easier.
Based off my results, I felt slightly more comfortable and took a leap of faith and purchased of 500 units. (This was not easy for me to do!)
I sell approximately 3-4 per day. Revenues were in excess of $3,600 in month one. Month two, over $4,000. Not too shabby.
And I continue to experiment with different aspects of online sales.
I experiment with various advertising methods, prices, and product descriptions.
By performing self-experimentation, I am able to eliminate certain biases.
In self-experimentation you commit yourself for a set period of time, say two weeks. At the end of the trial period, you evaluate results and see if they are in line with your hypothesis.
Then you make a judgment call to continue on or stop.
What is great about self-experimentation is that if you do it right, you maintain a non-judgmental and also non-biased view of your experiment.
In the end, there is no commitment since you had a defined period from the beginning.
A shift in thinking
Self-experimentation has shifted my mindset. Instead of looking at things as a success or failure, I have a more objective view.
I’m trying look at everything in my life as an experiment.
Another great aspect of self-experimentation is that you can tweak assumptions, test different hypothesis, and track results.
Let’s say you’re a guy and you want to get better at talking to girls (or vice versa).
You can test out different opening lines with a random person at the bar, and evaluate your results.
You could start by making an opening question about what someone is wearing. Gauge their reaction. If it’s positive, this is something that you could continue to use. If it’s negative, try something else.
Experimenting allows you to detach yourself from the result. It requires you to become more aware of the world around you.
If you want to lose weight, test out certain diets in trial periods. Try the Atkins diet for one month. If you like the way you feel, continue. If you don’t, try a vegan diet. See how you feel. If that doesn’t work, try the paleo diet.
The key is to evaluate how you feel and the progress you make.
My Little Experiment
I was getting heartburn all the time. So I experimented with cutting down on coffee. I limited myself one cup in the morning (no more 2 PM caffeine boosts!). This helped a little bit.
Then I experimented with cutting down on dairy and other foods. My heartburn went down even more.
By self-experimenting, I was able to determine the root cause of my heartburn. As a result, I don’t need to go to the doctor and get prescribed some prescription medication that would only cover up the real problem.
Here’s a suggestion to you: experiment with self-experimentation. Test out something you’ve been thinking about for a while. Develop a hypothesis or expectation. Determine the test period, and track your results and form a conclusion. You may just be surprised by what you find.
Have you tried self-experimentation? What have you tested out yourself? What advice do you have for someone interested in self-experimentation?