Our Lives Are Experiments

Many of us recognize that parts of our lives are experiments.

What we fail to recognize is that everything in our lives is an experiment.

The experiments in our lives are often distorted by the mental tricks we play on ourselves. 

Our cognitive bias distorts the outcome of experiments. Sunk cost bias prevents us from moving on when an experiment fails. 

But we can help counter this by thinking a bit more about the experiments in our lives.

A good experiment has a few components: 

A hypothesis: what we expect to happen. 

“Moving to New York will increase my professional success without harming my happiness.”

A design: how we will test the hypothesis. 

“I’ll move to New York for one year and re-evaluate at 8 months, when my first lease is coming up for renewal.”

Success criteria: how we measure the experiment outcome.

“I’ll compare my income and job opportunities after a year to judge professional success. And I’ll journal daily, and use that record to judge my happiness.”

And a clear path if the experiment doesn’t succeed: 

“If I’m unhappy or not in a better job after a year, I’ll move to the next city on my list and repeat the experiment.”

We want some experiments to succeed more than others. The stakes are higher.

In other areas, we may not have a choice. Moving to a new city requires mobility and money.

But far more of our lives are experiments than we realize.

We should design those experiments well.