Note: This article was written by our community manager, Milena Rangelov.
In her legendary interview at the Unmistakable Creative Elle Luna talked about The Crossroads of Should and Must: the things we feel societal pressure to do versus things we want to do because they make our heart sing.
She also encouraged many 100-day projects, in which participants committed to doing something creative for 100 days straight. People wrote, doodled, designed, captured photos, danced, and enjoyed the process.
When we hear about projects like this, many of us feel agitated and overwhelmed. We may think: “Oh well, I know I should be creating, I don’t need a special project just for that.”
Some creative ninjas have streaks that are much longer than 100 days.
However you feel and wherever you may be in your creative process, a 100-day project is an excellent idea.
In this post, I will try to convince you why.
Even if you have more pressing issues right now, a project like this could be exactly what you need.
What is a 100-day project?
A project in which you commit to doing something for 100 days straight.
It could be a creative project — writing 1000 words every day, making a doodle, or a photo, or recording a tiny podcast episode.
It could be related to a habit or physical activity like yoga or meditation.
It could be a part of a larger project, such as working on your novel or on your website for 20 minutes every day.
The key advantage
The versatility, flexibility, and simplicity of the 100-day project are what make it work for pretty much anyone.
Aside from the rule of 100 small actions for 100 consecutive days, you decide on all the other rules so that they fit your interests and circumstances.
And so many more…
1. Accomplish An Important goal By Thanksgiving
If you start your 100-day project in mid-August, you’ll finish it towards the end of November, right before Thanksgiving. Yep, my friend, the time flies when you’re having fun (or living through Groundhog Day). This year, in particular, the time has felt distorted and we could all use a new time perspective.
Fast forward to December 2020. Imagine yourself in a coffee shop (a bold assumption, I know) or at your desk reflecting on the past year. What will you write about?
Netflix binges? Video games? Scary news? Feeling panicked and confused?
Imagine if you could also add something epic, important, and fulfilling to that. Imagine if you can say that, despite all the craziness and restrictions, you reclaimed your power and did something meaningful. That could be this project.
2. Set Goals You Can Control
If you are living on planet Earth in 2020, your plans likely changed due to forces beyond your control (the pandemic, lockdown, or social isolation, to name a few). As a result, you probably felt helpless, pushed, and pulled in many directions.
A small project that you can control 100% when the world is in a turmoil can give you a sense of progress. We have no idea how 2020 will continue, so setting bold, outcome-oriented goals may not be the best idea. Good goals are those you have control over and that depends only on you and your effort. That’s a 100-day project — it will give you a sense of optimism and control, something we all need right now.
3. Focus On Process, Not On The Outcome
Notice that the 100-day project has no tangible outcome like: ‘finish the manuscript’ or ‘make an art exhibition’. That’s because the outcome is this: doing what you said you will do for 100 days. This metric of success is simple and effective because it praises the effort, not the result. By being focused on the effort rather than the outcome, you’ll get to enjoy all 100 days and not just the last day when you accomplish your goal. You’ll way more likely to keep creating afterward because you’ll want to replicate that joy in the future.
4. A Structure For Making Ideas Happen
You probably have new ideas daily. You’ve probably read a bunch of books and articles. Maybe you’ve been Instagramming your breakfast or doodling on boring Zoom calls. You’ve probably written a novel worth of emails. You’ve probably consumed enough and created some — all you need now is a simple system to make the whole process easier and more systematic. Choose a ridiculously small daily action: 100 stick figures or 100 index cards with one true sentence, or playing one song on the guitar every day. Create a simple system that’s not overwhelming. It will make your work easier and help you build momentum.
5. Small steps build momentum
We are trained to think like megalomaniacs: “Go big or go home”, that sort of thing. Hence, we easily dismiss the power of small steps. When you repeat one ridiculously small action over time, it becomes automated and once it becomes automated, it virtually takes little or no effort. At that point, you can add a little more and slowly form a creative habit you can rely on afterward. A 100-day project will show you what’s possible when you persist.
6. We thrive on the quests
Our favorite stories involve heroes doing amazing things on quests. Remember Frodo or Luke Skywalker or Hercules — we are always rooting for the hero. What we’re missing nowadays is a feeling of being heroes ourselves. There are so many limitations on how much we can move around, see other people, and what activities we can do. It’s easy to feel powerless and purposeless — the opposite of a hero. A solution: a simple everyday quest that is based on the inner, not outer, journey. Quests give us a sense of meaning and purpose, which is exactly what we need to keep our spirits high in these crazy times.
7. Stop Relying on inspiration
On a 100-day project, the quality of your work matters much less than the quantity and consistency. Quality will come as a byproduct of your work. When you have to create every day, as opposed to when inspiration strikes, you’ll be forced to cough something out. Often, it won’t be spectacular. But after some time, something good will sneak through. Once you train yourself to create daily, your perception will change. You will see the world differently because you’ll constantly be on the lookout for something inspiring. You’ll be transformed.
8. Build your confidence
Many aspiring creatives struggle because they don’t have enough creative confidence. That may seem like a catch-22. You can’t create when you don’t have the confidence and you can’t get confidence if you don’t create. A 100-day project can break that vicious cycle for you. Only the work can give you creative confidence. By showing up, creating something heartbreakingly shitty, showing up again, doing it and not giving up, you’ll grow more confident. Not in your outcomes, but in your ability to do the work, show up the next day, and do the same. A 100-day project will prove that that’s possible.
9. Build your portfolio
Through a 100-day project, you’ll add to your portfolio. If you want to explore a new passion or bring a spark to an old hobby, you’ll grow your creative portfolio. If you are already at an advanced level, you can stretch yourself creatively. But perhaps more importantly, a project like this can add to your portfolio of meaning. Srini wrote about this idea: just like we should diversify our investment portfolio, we should diversify the sources of meaning in our lives. A 100-day project can be the extra ingredient for you to find a more meaningful existence nowadays.
10. Bring some fun into your life
Last, but not least, all creative ambitions aside, you should do a 100-day project because it’s fun! Choose something that genuinely lights you up, not something you think should be doing to advance your resume or career prospects. We trust that you are disciplined enough, diligent enough, and have earned the right to do something fun and meaningful that is just for you.
Before You Go…
If you’d like to do a 100-day project of your own, here is a huge shoutout to you. If you’d like to learn a few key tactics to ensure that your 100-day project is a success, and get access to some interviews to help your creative thinking, sign up for our newsletter HERE.