Think Like a Scientist

Whatever you are working on, you will not do it perfectly. The trick is not to never goof up, but not to turn goof-ups into give-ups. In order to keep motivated and not give up when you blow it, it’s important that you use what you learn from your tracking, “I said I would exercise 30 minutes every day and I haven’t done it once,” as information, not as the chance for self-punishment. The more you criticize, blame, shame or guilt trip yourself, the less well you’ll do.

People who succeed at change think like a scientist. Scientists don’t beat themselves up for what they discover. They simply observe, track the results, and make fact-based conclusions regarding next actions on the basis of what they discovered. Emulate Thomas Edison, the creator of the light bulb and many other 20th-century inventions. As I described in my book The Power of Patience, when someone categorized his 700 attempts at the light bulb as failures, he said, “I have not failed 700 times. I have not failed once. I have succeeded in proving that those 700 ways will not work. When I eliminate all the ways that don’t work, I will find the one that will.” It took him 1,000 tries.

The experimental approach can work for you too, as long as you take what you’re learning as information that will help you do better in the future “Oh, I thought if I tried exercising in the morning it would be easier to do. But I did it only twice this week. What if I shift to the end of the day? Let’s see how I do next week.” The more objective you can remain and the more you are willing to see your efforts as experiments, the less you will fall into the slough of perfectionism or despair that trap so many would-be resolvers and habit-changers into giving up.

To Try: Today, notice how you’ve done so far without blame or shame. Do you need to adjust what you’re doing to create greater success?

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Vural K.
Past Member 8 years ago


Andrea Taylor
Andrea Taylor9 years ago

I approach my Life as my Ultimate Science Experiment. If it is not working I need to analyze why not, and adjust. I am just a Work-in-Progress...The day that I am finished I will be FINISHED! ;)

Afia Owusu
Afia Owusu9 years ago

This is very inspiring and pray it changes my attitude to issues. But aside thinking as a scientist you also need to have the will power to move on which is more to do with what you believe in.

Konstantin Bourtzalas

Just think that there's always an alternative solution!!! Always!!! But you have to think and find it!!!
Don't give up but try harder. There's always something more....

Nancy M.
Nancy M9 years ago

I agree with this thinking and with Paula's comment. But I too am a scientist! Nice to see some on

I try to teach this students who feel that they are failures because there grades aren't high enough for medical school. It is not that they ae "failed pre-meds", they have just found one career that is not what they should do. Find something else.

Marthe B.
Marthe B9 years ago

Yes very funny how we try almost every day to make some good resolution in our lives...and dont stick to them,thats just me about doing some exercise he he and then i think that i worked already enough in the house and had actually exercised a lot...but some days i walk for half an hour..

Paula D.
Paula D9 years ago

This is the correct way to think. I am a scientist and I use this way of thinking in my daily life. It does work and it reduces the guilt one feels about not living up to expectations, either personal or otherwise. It also helps one to realize that one can change, that the patterns and routines of life can be 'experimented' with in order to change one's life. This by itself adds elements of fun and mystery to daily life.