5 Lessons Learned From #The100DayProject So Far

It’s about two months into my 100 Day Project, which is part of Elle Luna‘s official #The100DayProject. This is the second year of the challenge, which was originally inspired by Elle Luna’s book The Crossroads of Should and Must: Find and Follow Your Passion, which was based on her equally amazing essay. If you haven’t read it yet, do yourself and favor and do so now.

100 day challenges are fairly common, especially on Instagram. One of the first I participated in was #100HappyDays. The challenge was based on the age-old advice that in order to quell anxiety and become a happier person,  one has to start recognizing happiness in the everyday. The challenge required people to share this discovered happiness and post it on Instagram, each day for 100 days. And wouldn’t you know it, people would fill their Instagram feed with positive and inspiring moments. The on-demand nature of personal social sharing kept people accountable for sticking to the challenge. Hopefully when the challenge was over, they made finding everyday happiness a daily habit. It sure made a difference for me.

I participated in the #100DayProject last year but didn’t complete it. (I tried to challenge myself based on time, not completed works). This year I’ve managed to keep working on the project, but have slightly fallen behind. However, so far the whole endeavor has provided me a few lessons about building habits and the creative process:

  1. Committing to doing one thing every day for 100 days is hard.
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    I have a habit of pretending to be a far more disciplined person than I actually am. I also go to extremes, such as when I thought I could wake up at 5 am every day to do creative work before going to the gym and starting a full work day. The only time I have ever been successful at that was when I did grand jury duty for two weeks and all I really did all day afterward was try to read Infinite Jest inside the court room.
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    When I started this current project, I think it was the first day that I set my alarm for 5 am. The alarm went off, a disgruntled and sleepy Eric handed me my phone, I hit the snooze, and that was that.
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    Since then, I’ve realized that every day is different and some daily habits (especially those accomplished before the workday) are better when it has a fixed time slot. For instance, going to the gym at 6 am for an hour and a half was doable (mostly because I barely thought about it). For me, sitting and waiting for inspiration to happen, especially first thing in the morning, was impossible. I’ve since learned I’m a much more creative at night. I also changed my strategy by making it possible to draw wherever I was. I kept a book and a pen and whether it was a long train ride or a break at work, I would do drawings to meet my quota.
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  2. Committing to work on one project every day for 100 days is hard (and can get boring).
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    Full disclosure, I didn’t know about this year’s project until the day it started on April 19th. I came up with my project in under an hour and decided to do #100DaysofGesture to challenge myself. While it was fun to sketch Prince on the day of his passing (RIP), it realized that the project itself was too broad for me to keep coming up with ideas and being challenged. It’s probably against the rules, but I decided to change my project halfway to #100DaysofNarrativeIcons. So far, I love it. It reminds me of emojis, but I love using it as a way to tell a story.
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  3. The habit of creating something on a regular basis sparks new ideas.
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    I initially got so bored with doing gesture drawing every day that I actually came up with a few new ideas of different projects to do next time. When my brain would scrounge around for ideas, a few connections were made that not only could show off my drawing abilities, but add some sense of humor and tell a story.
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  4. Half the battle of sticking to something is forgiving yourself if you fall behind.
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    I fell behind by a few days. I was this close to forgetting the whole thing. Instead, I sat down one night this week and planned how I could catch up. It’s probably cheating again, but I came up with a strategy on how to create fresh new drawings more than once a day. 
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  5. You have to be accountable for the quality of your work.
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    I will admit, there are a few drawings where I phoned it in. I focused on just getting in my daily quota instead of being 100% happy with the results. However, as with most projects and work, not giving it your best effort doesn’t help anyone. It’s one thing to look at someone else’s work and say “I can do better”, but it’s an entirely different matter when you look at your own work and think the same thing. That thought has helped push me to think about the quality of work I can deliver and how else I can further push myself.
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So while it’s the official halfway point of the project, I am excited to continue through to the end. Feel free to follow along on my Instagram account @mynameisreb.  Let me know if you’ve ever struggled with creating a daily habit in the comments section below.

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