Little Personal Development Experiments

Personal Development Experiments

Personal Development Experiments

For the past three weeks, I’ve been running a little personal development experiment. I’d noticed that I always need to do laundry because I run out of clean t-shirts. I followed this trail, and realized that my armpits are the first thing that starts to smell if I do some sports. (I bike everywhere around here, and that’s usually enough to get me sweaty.)

Being lazy and hoping to get more mileage out of my t-shirts before I have to wash them, I decided to experiment with reducing how quickly my armpits start to smell. So, in the name of science, I shaved one of my armpits! I experimented with all sorts of combinations, including not using any deodorant, using my usual deodorant, and even using a new anti-perspirant on my shaved armpit, which wouldn’t really work on an unshaved armpit. (Obviously I wash my armpits thoroughly.)

In the end, it turns out that the best combination is unshaved armpits and using my old deodorant. Go figure, I was already doing the best thing!

But I’m not writing this to ramble about my armpits (okay, I do take a bit of perverse pleasure in making you read about that ). It’s about the general idea. This is just one of many things I’ve tried tweaking in my life. I’m constantly experimenting. This might not sound like it’s worth it for you, but these little experiments add up. If you’re always experimenting with little things, you will keep discovering little ways to make your life better and better. And over time, these add up to make a huge difference.

This reminds me of a story about car manufacturing companies in the 80′s. In America, Toyota had been steadily overtaking the local companies in sales. So the engineers at Ford decide to buy a Toyota, in order to take it apart and see how the Japanese were building their cars. Everyone still remembered when Japanese manufacturing was a laugh, back in the 50′s, and they wondered how Toyota managed to go from that to being one of the biggest threats for the domestic market. So they bought one and started taking it apart… and they were shocked at how easily they could move all the pieces around. While their own manufacturing process had stayed more or less the same in the past decade, Toyota had embarked on a mission to make constant little improvements in how the pieces of their cars fit together. Different placement of parts, different ways of screwing them together, constant little tweaks.

Over the years, these constant little improvements added up. While the Ford cars had all sorts of pieces that needed to be forced into place, and screwed in at awkward angles, the engineers noticed that putting the Toyota back together was almost like playing with legos. The pieces fit together perfectly, and snapping them together was quick and easy.

It was this philosophy of constant little improvements that made the Japanese cars overtake the US market.

So, how about you? What little tweaks will you try making in your life?

If you’re short on ideas, you could try:

  • taking 20-minute power naps to recharge your energy
  • tweaking your body language to change your mental state
  • not using soap or shampoo
  • spending a few minutes on self-reflection each evening
  • keeping a gratitude journal

Or have you tried other little personal development experiments that improved your life?

Written By Vlad Doleza
Originally Posted on