Life is an experiment

Charlotte Sheridan
4 min readNov 21, 2022

Hello and welcome to week seven of my Advent Calendar of Change, where I’m sharing 12 bite-sized exercises from my new book Swim Jump Fly: A guide to changing your life.

As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make, the better.” Let’s take food, as an example. Perhaps you’re bored with your cooking and you fancy trying something new. However, you don’t want to make a mistake. You don’t want to cook a meal that you or your family won’t like.

But herein in lies the challenge — how to create the perfect meal without testing it out first? How to guarantee what’s around the corner so there’s no disappointment? Unfortunately, without a time travel machine, there’s no way to be sure.

A question we’re often asked in childhood is: “How do you know you don’t like broccoli… unless you try it?” To discover the golden egg, we have to eat some duds. It’s no different with any change process you might be going through.

Let’s say you want to move to a new city, or swap countries. How will you know if it’s sleepless in Seattle or good morning Vietnam… unless you’ve been there? Perhaps you want to find a romantic partner but spend all your time swiping left. Without meeting them, how will you know? They’ll just be a fantasy and the problem with fantasies is they’re loosely connected with reality.

“Freedom is not worth having if it does not include the freedom to make mistakes.Mahatma Gandhi

Design Thinking (DT) is a process that designers follow to improve consumer products. It’s all about experimenting, iterating ideas, and being open to things going wrong. When designers use DT they assess and review initial assumptions, identify new insights and create alternative solutions. This means better results come from trying things out, seeing what works, stopping what doesn’t and re-orientating when necessary; ideas we can all use when we’re going through a change in life.

Sometimes that means purposefully setting out to experiment with a shift we want to make; testing, assessing, pivoting, trying something new. Sometimes it means being open to unplanned and happy mistakes; rolling with the unpredictability of things or people. Maybe this is how we ended up with chocolate in chili con carne and pepper on…

Charlotte Sheridan

Psychologist, coach, writer, photographer… juggling them all but often dropping balls.