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The CHOOSEDAY Experiment

The CHOOSEDAY Experiment

By Ronen Aires



Warning: This experiment is the unanticipated, sole design of a semi-anxious, recovering control freak and may not be suitable for over-planners, over-thinkers, guilt trippers, conformists seeking peer-reviewed studies, or chance-adverse personality groups. Apply at your own risk.


What do we all want as Founders and Leaders – freedom. The freedom to make our own rules, to be our own boss, to create things and bring our visions to life. Isn’t this why we started our business in the first place? And yet, we find ourselves trapped in our own traffic jam – piling up our days with drama, over-committed meetings and engagements, and a continuous roadshow of people pleasing.


Our only salve is to plan a holiday, right? So, we aim for December. A big, badass December vacation - where no one can reach us, and no one needs us; where we can dream up more and more holidays like this – more promises about all the holidays we’re going to take - while we mindlessly scroll through our phones and throw back tequila shots to try recharge our personal battery. Ah yes, my friends, the lies we tell ourselves.


Put the tequila down! This vacation – the one you’re wrecking yourself the whole year to get to – is an illusion of your freedom – and it’s come a little too late. The notion that a few weeks off will add a year to your mental and emotional reserves is the proverbial default, and it’s all bull****.


Here’s the truth: December will not save you. Nor will temporarily freeing up space on your mental hard drive. We’re living our lives with less and less capacity, not because we’ve run out of time – but because we choose to give our space away entirely. We’re cultivating a culture of roadblocks because we choose to busy ourselves with other people’s stuff. We choose to say yes, instead of no. We show up for everyone else, all…the…time. We continuously make ourselves available, and then bless us, we let other people fill up our calendars.

Often, our burden in business is the result of a lack of agency over our own time. When we’re bogged down by everything and everyone, for unnecessary cause, we deplete our creative battery. We become resentful. We blame everyone.


This is normal, but it’s not okay.


Most leaders in business suffer the plight of a non-existent boundary wall. We give it all away, hoping to be the hero – a hero without an ounce of energy or empathy left. If you’re anything like me, you’re dangerously oversubscribing to others, and you’ve lost your will and your spark. This is the dark side of a servant leadership style - you give too much, you’re running on empty, and your adrenals are going berserk.


The good news is, I’ve got a secret to share to get you unstuck and give you hope.


Let me introduce you to - Chooseday:


It was a Tuesday in December 2022, when I decided I was done. Done with too many yesses, done with overthinking, done with constantly checking up on my team, done with hating on WFH days, done with breaking my own boundaries – done done done. It had been a brutal year, and I was a shadow of myself; depleted of energy and enthusiasm.


So, I decided to think up a secret, social experiment, in the best interest of myself and the business. I chose one day – Tuesday. Every Tuesday I would experiment with two things: my willpower, and my capacity for joy. I planned the experiment in true ‘control-freak’ style, with my calendar and Excel spreadsheet. I named it Chooseday, and it looked a little something like this:


The Method:

First – I’d start by making myself more available to myself - but only on a Chooseday. I found the will to decline what did not serve me, and only accept the meetings and tasks that added value to my mind, heart and soul. This meant, I’d choose the meetings I wanted to be a part of – not because I had to, but because I desired to – read that again!


Second - I’d choose to make space for business innovation on a Chooseday; a project or creative concept that mattered to me, and the business.


Third - I’d choose who I’d like to lunch with on a Chooseday, or WhatsApp, or call for a deep and meaningful catch-up.


The point of the experiment: to disrupt my pattern to please others– and to regain my freedom.


The challenge: to do it guilt-free, every Tuesday.

To be clear, the Chooseday Experiment was not a rally against the 4-hour work week. My ‘Chooseday’ was designed to be a day of being, while doing things my way, on my terms. A weekday where I’d work on the good stuff; the stuff that would build me, feed me and not deplete me. It was like my own secret rocket fuel, piled with choices. My choices.


The Application:

My first Chooseday rolled around, and I tried it. I liked it. I tried it again; I liked it more. Three weeks in, it became abundantly clear, Chooseday was my favourite day of the week. Here’s what happened: I started feeling like myself – maybe for the first time in years.


The Result:

- I started crushing Mondays, so I could accommodate Tuesdays. Fact!

- I stopped worrying about my team as much, and trusted the work was getting done. It was.

- I built up a chunk of time to do the important things, not the urgent things.

- I was less anxious about checking my notifications.

- I let go of the ruminating drain in my head.

- I used my time to be playfully productive.

- I got more creative.

- I laughed more.

- I had more daily capacity for decisions, and even, the drama.

- I slept better on a Chooseday.


I can’t tell you if next ‘Chooseday’ I’ll be thrown a curve ball that blows this whole experiment to pieces, but what I can tell you is, these micro-changes have made a seismic difference to my life. I’m 25 weeks in and it’s like one gigantic exhale for my body, and mind!


And the irony of choosing me over everything else? Nothing broke. My world is a better place; I’m a better me. Basically, I’m no longer that sucker jammed in the fast lane to December. Also, I’m discovering that Wednesday is now my after-glow day, and I’m not so hellbent on my one-way lane to Friday anymore either. I’m building reserves, I’m expanding my internal facility and I’m experiencing something I haven’t before: capacity overflow.


For the first time in my 25 years of business, I’ve found a way to keep adding capacity to the grid, which means I’m way more creative and laser focused. Oh, the clarity! We cultivate clarity when we make space for ourselves; our ability to think clearer and connect the dots quicker returns. Permission to CHOOSE makes us expansive, freeing us up to be better leaders. I know this now. Today, I’m a better leader, colleague, husband, father and friend – all because I’ve given myself permission to choose a better way. This is the road to freedom, and the antidote to depletion. And now, it’s yours.

Conclusion:

I end with a simple question - ask yourself: When did self-sacrifice become your business strategy? The day you decided it would.

And when will it end? The day you decide it does.

Choose wisely my friends.



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