The ECE framework to live life — Explore, Commit, Experience
Background Material before reading this article —
Introduction to OneLife (Episodes 1 & 2,3) — https://medium.com/onelife-theory/onelife-theory-introduction-79bbf896aee6 & https://medium.com/onelife-theory/onelife-theory-the-5-basic-tenets-of-living-life-b0df6403a68b
2 Strategies to Live OneLife
- Regret Minimisation Framework — https://medium.com/onelife-theory/identifying-your-true-potential-5-questions-to-ask-yourself-b57f16eadf33
- Living to full potential — https://medium.com/onelife-theory/regret-minimisation-5-regrets-of-the-dying-140b6fd9f39a
One framework to live any and every aspect of life is the ECE framework — or the Explore | Commit | Experience Framework. Let me explain —
This 3 step process ECE (pronounced ‘Easy’ :) can be used to consciously live any aspect of life at any point in time.
In the ‘Explore’ phase on any aspect — we are going through the millions of options that the universe has created across these aspects — people, jobs, hobbies, travel, food, skills, etc. While all of us have been dealt with a certain set of cards at birth or wherever we are at our current point in life (in terms of kind of family, our bodies, our cities we live in, people in our life etc.), pretty much anything and everything is alterable with time. Nothing is permanent — and you would have seen this about all the good moments and bad moments that you have encountered till now in life.
So if things are good for you, unless you put the effort to make them so, they won’t stay good. If things are bad for you, in any aspect of life, with thought and effort, they can become good again. The universe, in itself, is abundant, and we are supposed to explore it. Believe me on this as someone who has seen the heights and depths on most aspects of life.
A lot of us are also in self-created cocoons — that our whole view of the universe is only within our judgements, our people, our jobs, our constricted view of the world through our own eyes — the moment we are able to break this cocoon and explore the millions of options out there in the world, we would do well to understand what life has to offer.
In this exploration phase, make sure that you are sampling / experimenting — and don’t judge yourself that you have not committed to something. That’s the nature of the phase. For e.g. I have been exploring what I should be doing professionally in the last 6 months, and while there’s pressure to finalise something whenever someone asks — ‘Hey what next?’, I didn’t let that pressure affect me and took my time to deciding on something that fits.
Be also ready to encounter confusion on what to go in-depth into. This can happen in terms of romantic relationships, or jobs, or a travel location, or even a day-to-day decision on which restaurant to go to dinner to. But don’t get stuck in the ‘Analysis — Paralysis’ zone. Take that decision. The next phase of this journey — to get into a state of flow — is the ‘Commit’ phase.
It’s sometimes exciting to be in the ‘Explore’ phase for long without having to take a decision on committing to someone or something. However, the next phase of ‘Commit’ has its own outstanding advantages — it gives a state of flow, and helps you to go in-depth into a particular aspect of life. That could be a particular person on the romance front, or having a kid, or a particular job, or learning a particular skill, or taking a big vacation to go somewhere.
Commitment inherently means depth — and with depth, comes effort. But depth also means a state of flow — and the brain chemicals can play a lot of games when you are in that state of flow. When you have committed to something, there’s not an iota of your brain that wants to be doing something else or is thinking of all the options that are not being committed to.
It also means that there’s a chance that you will get ‘FOMO’ or fear of missing out. Or the other extreme of this is that you are so addicted to something that you are not able to think outside of this. Both the extremes — in making a decision — are not a good angle.
Last but not the least, a commitment is always without any external expectations — because as you will see in the next phase of ‘Experience’, it involves developing love and passion for the commitment.
Some commitments by nature — are longer term — like marriage or a kid — or even starting up — so the level of thought and decision making has to be stronger before taking on those commitments.
With commitment, and time inside a commitment, comes the ups and downs, the successes and failures, the happiness and sadness, and all the in-betweens. That’s the nature of going in-depth into something. This phase is the ‘Experience’ phase.
Revel in the success without getting too addicted to it. Handle failure with equanimity without getting bogged down by it.
There’s nothing in this world worth its weight — that just has only happiness. Maybe sleep! But everything else — whether that’s to love your beloved partner, or love your own kid, or do a fabulous job of a creative pursuit, or build something as an entrepreneur, or travel the world to understand different cultures — every activity of this has some kind of effort that you have to put in.
Love for something builds when you put that effort with full intent, remove all the baggage that’s making you not do that, and then with time and effort, develop the love for that aspect of life. Because, the initial explore + commit to make a particular decision of experiencing — does not cover up for the boredom, monotony, changed views of that particular aspect of life — which may throw new challenges.
Have some cheat codes to escape the monotony or boredom — but if there’s too long a time period — despite all the effort and the love — that something is not working out — then by all means, get off it and go back to the ‘Explore’ phase and start again. This applies for relationships, jobs, and just about any aspect of life.
Personally I have lived by the ECE framework in almost all aspects of life. There are times when I probably stay for too much longer in the experience part when I should have gotten off the commitment and gone back to the Explore phase sooner. There’s been times when I have been too stuck on the Explore part without committing too. I am sure, despite my theoretical knowledge of this framework, I am going to be making these mistakes all over again for life. The most important aspect here — is to understand that all of us go through these phase across different aspects of life — and be consciously putting in the effort / making the decisions to move along on these phases. Once we make those conscious choices, then our life will be filled with far more clarity on these different aspects.
You might be in the Explore aspect on your work, you might be in the Commit aspect on your relationship and you may be in the Experience aspect w.r.t. kids. It’s good to have some parts of your life in each aspect just to get a variety of different phases. If you are in the ‘Experience’ phase for too long on the same choices across all aspects of life, there’s a chance that something might break — or that you are living in a self-created cocoon — so make sure you shake yourself up from these self-created zones, so life can be more exciting :)
Episode 6 of the OneLife Theory Podcast that talks about the ECE framework is here.
Episode 6 podcast link on Spotify is here.
Please share the podcast / Youtube links with your contacts and comment / like if you are able to relate to these. That way, the OneLife Theory can spread to a wider audience.