30/100 Days: Here’s what I’ve learned

On April 4th I embarked on a 100 day journey through #The100DayProject (posted by @elleluna). I decided to do a painting every day for 100 days.

Actually, I initially decided to do 100 art videos for 100 days, which brings me to my first lesson:

1. Know your limits.

When this project started I was building two new courses for George Brown College, working on a research project, working on a marketing project, and undertaking an edited art video every day. And on top of all that, I’m home full time with my 1-year-old.

Something had to give. I work when my kid sleeps and during her one hour of “I need to get stuff done, watch your ABC’s” quiet time. In the beginning, I was trading my own sleep time to get art videos done. It just wasn’t worth it. I managed 8 videos (using the most hodge podge set up EVER) before realizing I had to shift my delivery method. Now I post a new painting every day on my Instagram account @allie_kosela.

The art I do, and have done for years, has always been for myself. It’s therapeutic and nostalgic and a way for me to channel my brain to something other than the whirlwind of thoughts going on in my brain. Painting has been especially important in helping me get through postpartum depression and OCD. Before starting #The100DayProject I didn’t really share my art with anyone. Certainly not in the way my initial videos forced me to share. Even now that I’m just posting a photo, I feel incredibly vulnerable, which brings me to my second lesson:

2. Being vulnerable is scary and awesome.

Feedback from friends and family has been, in a word, wonderful. No one is required to say something kind on my posts. No one has to like them, either. But some do. And that feels really nice. I know I’m not going to be an award-winning artist with the work I’m creating for #The100DayProject. The work is quick and meant to be an exercise in setting a goal and achieving that goal. The support has been encouraging and helps me keep it up every single day.

Setting your mind to something, especially something that takes 100 days, isn’t always easy. When my friend Marie Poulin originally posted about #The100DayProject I was excited and ready to hit the ground running. It’s the same feeling you get at all those fresh start moments in our lives:

  • Joining the gym.
  • New Year’s Day (and all the long-lost resolutions she brings).
  • Leaving a job for new opportunities.
  • Ending a relationship.
  • A new haircut.

But like many of these moments, it takes dedication to stick to it. How much money is Goodlife making off of January membership sales only to have members stop coming come March? How many times have you gone a full year committing to your New Year’s resolutions? How many times have you given up styling that cool new hair cut (or is that just me)? This brings me to my third lesson:

3. Start and end dates make for great commitment.

Scenario: You want to get fit so you decide to start running every other day before work. Good for you. But man, it’s day 10 and you’ve been so good and you’re so tired because you’ve been working late on that big project. Maybe you’ll just hit snooze today. And tomorrow. And the next day. And suddenly you’re off the wagon.

But what if you attach an end date? A goal to work towards can make the day-to-day grind easier to get through. The easiest thing to do would be to sign up for some sort of race. It doesn’t matter if you sign up for a 5K, 10K, half marathon, whatever. Just give yourself something to work towards.

(Source)

Then once you’ve achieved that initial goal, you can renew your commitment (or not). But if you reached your goal, and it felt really freaking awesome, maybe it would be nice to renew that goal.

This is how I’m approaching #the100DayProject. Doing a painting every day for 100 days didn’t really seem that daunting on day 1. I like to paint, I have the tools and materials to paint, so paint!

Come day 15, I felt exhausted. What am I going to paint today? How am I going to make it my own? Is this even good? Am I annoying people with all these posts? Knowing that I have a finish line (70 days to go) makes things easier. And looking at the stack of completed paintings feels good too. Not because I value quantity over quality, but because I value committing to a project and seeing it through.

Now that I have a month of #The100DayProject behind me, I’ve decided to take a chance. Which brings me to my fourth and final lesson:

4. Put yourself out there.

After a lot of thought (talking myself into and out of then back into the idea), and a lot of positive encouragement from friends and family, I’ve decided to open an Etsy store.

I’m not expecting to make millions, but I’m certainly looking forward to having a place for people who like what I do to support it.

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