Switching to an Experimentation Mindset + Plus/Delta Exercise
A small shift in our approach to life reveals opportunities to learn, grow, and be happy.
I used to get frustrated with myself whenever I failed. It was my fault when a recipe didn’t turn out well, and I would give up cooking for a while. When I wrote an article that didn’t get many likes, I would stop writing. When a workshop I ran didn’t go as I planned, I would beat myself up for a long time. As you can imagine, this is not a healthy approach to life. It can be draining to expect a successful outcome every single time we do something because the reality is that there will be ups and downs. Sometimes things will work out exactly how we want them to, but they often won’t.
A change of mindset was what I needed.
Switching to an Experimentation Mindset
What if we approached life with an experimentation mindset? What if we examined what worked and what didn’t work after doing an activity?
What if we focused on learning and growing from our activities?
By adopting an experimentation mindset, we can take the focus off of success or failure and instead examine what worked this time and what we can change for the next time. Instead of beating ourselves up for not succeeding when we try something, we can take the pressure off of ourselves and focus on the enjoyment of that activity and make it a learning opportunity. Instead of worrying about the final results, what if chose to be more present and enjoyed the activity?
The Plus/Delta Exercise
One technique that has helped me change to an experimentation mindset is the Plus/Delta exercise. In this exercise, once you have completed an activity, you write down what worked and what can be improved for the next time. Do this by creating a two-column table labeled Plus and Delta. In the Plus column, you list what worked, and in the Delta column, you list what could be improved. I love this exercise because it focuses our attention on improving instead of remaining static. It opens the door for us to learn and grow from instead of identifying ourselves with the outcome, whether positive or negative.
Going back to the recipe example, this is what my Plus/Delta exercise would look like:
The taste was great
Easy and quick to make
Had all the ingredients needed to make it
Wasn’t sweet enough. I need to add 1 tbsp more sugar next time.
Need to use a larger pan next time.
I need to prep the ingredients before I start so that I’m not rushing to prep while the food is cooking.
This exercise helps you see what you need to do to course-correct and improve for the next time. Whenever I try a recipe now, I start an experimentation mindset and know that this may work or need to be tweaked. It is not the end of the world.
Take a moment to think of an activity you will do today and spend a few minutes at the end to fill out the Plus/Delta exercise for yourself. Use the Plus/Delta exercise for any activity at work or in your personal life; it only takes a few minutes to complete.
Let me know how the Plus/Delta exercise goes for you. What stood out for you? What did you learn?
By approaching life with an experimentation mindset, everything we do becomes an opportunity to learn and grow. It takes the focus off of succeeding or failing and gently shifts the focus to help us understand what we need to do to reach our full potential so we can enjoy life to the fullest.
Have a creative day!