I Give Each of My Projects a 6-Month Trial Period

Auriane Alix
No more regrets, no more wasted time.
Photo by Kai Winckler on Unsplash

Have you ever felt stuck? Not knowing which way to go, afraid of both wasting time and missing out on what could be? Not knowing whether to keep going or give up on something new that feels uncomfortable right now, but afraid to push aside something that might work in the end?

Sounds familiar to me too.

The fact is: you’ll never know. Unless you try. But trying takes time and effort. How do you know if it’s a waste of time? How do you know when to stop?

Whether it’s a new lifestyle, a new habit, a new job, or anything that matters to you and could transform your life, my answer is: try it for exactly six months. That’s what I’m doing right now with my new lifestyle: I’ve become a digital nomad.

And that’s what keeps me going every day of my life, enabling me to continually move forward instead of going in circles.

But first, find out whether you should give it a chance or not

6 months is a long time. Before getting to the heart of the matter, which is to give your projects a try, let’s sort them into two piles: those you should try, and those you should reject. Because you can’t fully try several projects at the same time. It takes time and focus. Which you can’t have if you divide your attention between several ideas.

Yeah, you could wait for the 6-month period to end before starting another project, but the problem is that you’ll have at least 5 other ideas in the meantime. It’s like on YouTube, 100 hours of video are uploaded every minute. You just can’t watch it all.

How do you know if an idea is worth pursuing or not? It’s really easy.

Pay attention to the signs your body’s sending you. It knows better than you do. How do you feel deep in your chest about this project, this journey, this commitment? Does it excite you? Or does it feel like a burden? Is your body screaming to pursue it? Or to run away from it? Don’t try to direct your feelings at all. Just be the spectator. The listener.

Now you know.

Now dive headfirst into it

The problem is that we are either quitters or stickers. We give up too soon, or we stay too long. Both options waste our time. We waste time because we try for a month and then give up because we are uncomfortable or have doubts. So it’s a month thrown out the window. Or we hold on for years to something that, in the end, is not for us.

This time you waste could be used to pursue your goals, desires and passions in a more meaningful way. It could take you somewhere in your life, instead of leaving you in the same place for years or decades.

If I take my example, as a digital nomad, don’t think everything is rosy. Yeah, it’s been my dream for a year now. But now that I’m in it, it’s not great all the time. There are times when I feel lonely, uncomfortable, doubtful. Because it’s new. And we are creatures of habit and routine — even if it often ends up boring us to death. Getting out of our comfort zone is hard. Both to take the first step, but to stay out of it when at times all we want to do is get back right into it. Because it was much easier.

To avoid giving up too soon on something that could literally become my dream life, I made a deal with myself.

I give myself — and this project — 6 months. Not a day longer.

On July 3rd, I will sit with myself and decide whether it’s worth pursuing or if, in the end, I have discovered that it’s not for me and I want to try something else. Before July 3, I won’t even allow myself to think about quitting. I just keep going. I keep pushing. Now that I’m on a roll, there’s no turning back. At least for the next 5 and a half months.

6 months is the ideal time frame.

It is said that a habit is created in 21 days. 3 weeks indeed gives enough time to make a first assessment. But it’s not suited for profound changes. It’s enough to get into the habit of drinking a glass of water when you wake up. Nothing more.

We need time. The process takes time. Everything that makes sense takes time. Things are built, connections are made, patterns change. There is a whole magical dynamic that unfolds over time. I found that 6 months was enough time to get a first feeling of something and decide whether it’s for me or not.

During these 6 months of living this new lifestyle, I will have time to experience various feelings, to find myself in many different situations, to have both moments of glory and moments of solitude. I need this whole set of raw materials to decide what to do with them.

If I decide to stop at the end of this trial, that’s fine. Because I will have tried for real. If I stop before because I feel queasy out of my comfort zone, lonely and uncomfortable, I’ll feel better when I get home, but give me a week and I’ll start to wonder if things could have gotten better over time.

The idea is to prevent you from quitting because of transient states of mind and emotions.

If I resign before 6 months, I will regret it. It will forever feel incomplete. I will spend the rest of my life wondering if I did the right thing or not. Or I will try again, and give up again for the same reasons. For there is a barrier to be crossed, to be overcome, for the true experience, its reality, to appear. Before, it is only a shaky adaptation time.

If, on the contrary, in the 6th month, I decide to continue, it will be for good reasons. With full knowledge of the facts.

Final Thoughts

By giving yourself a trial period, you free yourself from the burden of thinking too much. You stop wondering every couple of days whether or not you are doing the right thing. If you’re not getting lost. If you’re wasting your precious time or not.

You no longer need to think. Just living life to the fullest. Close your eyes until a specific date, then act.

Because choices can’t be made until you have enough material to make them. And once you have that, it doesn’t feel like you’re making a choice anymore. It’s as if the choice makes itself. The answer appears clearly in your heart and mind. You just have to act accordingly.

A choice should only be made when it is mature enough to be made. And you can feel that.

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