Have you ever really wanted to learn a new skill or develop a habit but for whatever reason you haven’t started? Or maybe, like me, you did start but a couple of weeks in, you dropped it? Maybe it was juggling? Or learning to play an instrument? Learning a language? Getting fit and healthy? Learning to meditate?
On the 5th of November 2015, I began my 100-day-challenge. My goal was to establish the habit of creating something visual every single day for 100 consecutive days. I knew I was likely to focus on hand-lettering and calligraphy but I also wanted to allow myself the opportunity to dip into illustration, should I choose to. A key aspect of the challenge was to post my creation on social media every day.
- To overcome paralysis caused by fear.
We have all been there: wanting to do something but being held back by fear. Fear of not having enough time or not being good enough. Completing a 100-day-challenge will certainly kick that paralysis right out of the park. How? Because you simply make it a ‘must’. You design the circumstances so the stakes are high enough for it to be non-negotiable. Accountability is a great way to do this, either by sharing your progress on social media or by having an accountability partner. If you use an accountability partner, you could step it up a gear and give them whatever you consider to be a significant amount of money. Only once you have completed the challenge can you have the money back!
- It’s Habit-building.
There’s no denying that when you do something for a 100 days, it begins to feel normal and becomes an integral part of your identity. Great news: you have just created your own positive habit and you now are a musician, a linguist, a designer or an athlete. Ok, so you are probably not an expert or the best in the field, but your actions and habits speak volumes and you are what you do!
- You skill up.
Immersion is one of the most effective ways of improving a skill. Even with only 20 minutes spent doing something per day, you will be sure to see improvements.
Furthermore, your challenge will probably begin to automatically creep into other parts of your day. For me, I find myself following more hand-letterers/calligraphers on Instagram or analysing logos when I’m out and about. For you, it could be that you pay closer attention to guitar chords when listening to music or you automatically start trying to translate sentences into Spanish for no other reason than you want to… It really is hard to not improve quickly.
- Opportunities for social connection.
It has blown me away how sharing my challenge on social media has led to me connecting with so many people. From conversations with members of the design community through to reigniting old friendships after years without a word. You, however, may decide that sharing on social media is not for you. Instead, you may choose to be part of a regular meet-up group (like a writing group) or you may join an online community (for fitness or something). Either way, there are opportunities to reach out to others which can spur you on further.
- To develop acceptance and experience fulfilment.Bizarrely, completing my 100-day-challenge has been a mixed bag of emotions. On some days, I may feel frustrated because my creation is, in my eyes, not as good as it could be… Maybe I’m exhausted; unwell; busy with a day-long family gathering; or I’m just having an ‘off’ day. On these days, it is on a personal level that I grow. Managing these frustrations (the very ones that are intrinsically linked to my original fears accompanying paralysis) and accepting where I am at today, is a gigantic challenge for any perfectionist, and yet it is absolutely crucial. Granted, I may need an occasional prompt, but I am working on shifting my perspective to celebrate that another day has passed and I have succeeded in completing my challenge.
Warning: There is a strong possibility that you may experience the urge to either upgrade your 100-day-challenge to a 365-day-challage or become a serial 100-day-challenger – it really does feel that good!