A Simple Way to Clarify: The Who Cares Experiment

Who cares

Are you overwhelmed? Do you feel confused and can’t make a decision? Or do you procrastinate and feel stuck?

If your answer is yes to any of the above, consider The Who Cares Experiment to reduce confusion and get clear on what matters.

In the past few months, I’ve used this experiment to gain clarity, instead of forcing action, resisting and feeling miserable.

The beauty of this approach is you don’t have to make a final decision. But you do need discipline to stop habitual behaviors—even for a short while.

What is it?

In plain terms, stop doing something—without declaring it to the world—for a period of time, and see what happens. Who is going to care? Who is going to miss the outcome of the action that’s being paused?

The outcome will be one of the following:

  • No one will care.
  • You will care, but no one else.
  • Others will care, but not you.
  • You and others will care.

Once the experiment is done, you can make an informed decision whether something is worth pursuing, or not.

Why it works?

This experiment is easy, yet quite insightful for the following reasons.

It’s temporary. You don’t have to commit to a final decision. You just stop and see.

It’s effortless. You just stop doing, and observe. You don’t have to do anything else.

It aligns with reality, not ego. Curiosity trumps ego sometimes. You get to know how important something is to others. This experiment brings us back to reality. What we think is important to others may not matter that much.

It allows you to face your truth. After you stop something, do you care about it? Or are you trying to please others, or get attention? You get to look at your motivations without outside influences.

Examples of The Who Cares Experiment

I’m sharing with you my personal experiments and results as a starting point.

Social Media: Quietly, I didn’t post anything on social media for over a month. And no one cared. Afterwards, I realized that most of my thoughts about social media were based in fear (missing out, and becoming irrelevant). Now I only share when I have a new article, or want to respond, using Buffer and Hootsuite. I check the sites occasionally (about four times a month). If I feel fear, I just feel it without acting on it, which is a better coping strategy than numbing distractions.

Email Newsletters and archives: I used a filter to move all the messages to a folder, and didn’t read anything. I didn’t care, and nothing happened when I unsubscribed. I felt motivated to keep going and deleted most of my archived messages.

Writing: I didn’t write for a month and it didn’t seem to matter much to others. Interestingly, it mattered to me, but not in the way I expected. When I didn’t write in the past, fear of being forgotten was a major reason. After stopping, I faced that fear and learned to live with it. The reason I care now is I want to write to hone my craft and express ideas. I’ll be more disciplined about writing, hopefully without worrying about who’s reading. If the writing resonates with readers, it will be a wonderful bonus.

The above examples have helped me in letting go of ego-driven desires. They also allowed me to get used to the idea of stopping something, regardless of previous sunk costs. There is insight to be gained from every experience.

Here are a few more simple examples to consider.

  • Don’t talk about politics or the news.
  • Wear the same clothes with slight variations.
  • Don’t express an opinion, just listen.

If we don’t stop and examine why we’re doing something, and how important it is, we’ll keep doing it, and adding more things along the way without much thought.

The Who Cares Experiment is a break from the addiction to doing and accumulating (tasks, projects, and wants). It’s a way for us to wake up and recognize what matters most.