How to make GROWTH a focus for your life.Jul 17, 2022
”It’s just a hypothesis.”
You use this phrase when you want to make sure you’re not committing to the information you provided. So the concept of creating a hypothesis in life isn’t new. But using a hypothesis intentionally will be a new idea.
The definition of hypothesis: explanation made based on limited evidence as a starting point for further investigation.
And the second half of the definition is why I love hypotheses so much. It’s a starting point. It’s not an endpoint. A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog about why I don’t start with goal setting in my coaching work. (You can read the full blog here.) One of the main reasons is that I don’t want to limit my client to what they currently believe is possible. When we set a goal, we develop an endpoint. Unfortunately, we often also approach it as concrete facts once we set a goal. So dreams end up being very rigid and a tool we use to criticize ourselves regularly.
When we set a goal, it’s binary. Did we reach the goal? Yes or No are often the only options. And that’s where a hypothesis can make its grand entrance. A hypothesis is the opposite of a binary. Instead, it’s made with the understanding that we don’t have all the information YET! It also operates under the expectation that even if the hypothesis is proven correct, it’s just a starting point. If your hypothesis is proven correct, there is still room for evaluating why? What was the part we got correct? The point is growth and learning, not being right or perfect. There is no right or wrong result of a hypothesis.
All results are valid and worthy results for a hypothesis!
Imagine shifting your view of achievement from a binary goal to a hypothesis. A hypothesis leaves much more space to achieve beyond the theory. We often stop at an accomplished goal, but a belief consistently presents the idea of YET. It’s filled with possibilities.
If you operate through life with the idea that all results are valid and worthy even when it is contrary to what you hypothesized, how much relief would that provide you? If you make a goal of a certain number on a scale for weight loss. If you change your diet and move your body more, you might have more energy, sleep better, lift your mood, and have glowy skin. These are impressive results, but when we set a goal of 25lbs, and we only lost 19 lbs, we often become critical of ourselves and lose sight of the bigger picture. Instead, if you hypothesize that 25lbs is what you need to lose to see a change, you don't feel defeated and disappointed when you see these benefits at 19lbs. Instead, you can reflect that your hypothesis of the number 25 was off; 19 was the number that made the difference.
And now you get to revisit and hypothesize again about what comes next. It side steps the binary choice of achieved or failed. It opens up a world of possibilities for you and is kinder to your threat system - flight, fight, freeze. “Failing” at a goal feels like danger or threat. It can easily cause the defenses in your brain to activate, which could look like irritability, shutting down and abandoning your efforts at healthier living, or procrastination, feeling frozen to begin any change from the get-go. We’ve also received a lot of messaging throughout our lives that rates us on A - F in our education systems. So the dreaded thought that we put forth the effort and it doesn’t go as planned for many different reasons is painful.
The benefits of incorporating hypothesizing into your life are limitless. So how can you begin to use this concept and alleviate a large stress? Here are two quick and easy ways to begin using a hypothesis in your life.
- Simply replace the word goal with hypothesis.
- When working on a project, incorporate a daily affirmation “all results are worthy and valid. My goal is growth not just right.”
These shifts in language open up possibilities beyond yes or no and pass or fail. And your life and journey are deeper than just two options too.
What would you say if I told you that spending 5 minutes per day supporting your mental wellness could improve your gut health? And 5 minutes per day helping your gut health could improve your mental health?
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