Ten days in

Checking-in and reflecting on my 100 day project thus far

We’re on day ten of the 100 day project, just crossing into the double digits, one tenth of the way through. It’s already a bit of a struggle, but this is where that happens. I’ve given up on two previous challenges, but this year is feeling different: ten days in and I’ve developed a new understanding of something important.

My first attempt at the hundred day project was 100 days of making faces. I had a lot of fun, and I definitely grew a little. At first it was hard to share what I was creating and eventually I had to get over that and just put stuff out there. But I had tried to push myself too far by looking for different ways to execute on every face I made. Between the pressure to produce and client obligations, by day 67 I simply ran out of steam.

For the second attempt, I tried 100 days of rethinking. I had my doubts going into it, being a little worried about how long it can take to actually rethink something. I only made it to day 33 with that one 😔. In retrospect my suspicions were correct: it’s impossible to produce even questionably innovative perspectives on the spot every day for 100 consecutive days. Plus the project got in it’s own way, preventing me from chasing down the couple of good ideas I had. It was idea, share, repeat — no time to explore the idea or see where the thread might lead. I ended up with a lot of unfinished thoughts that I’m still wanting to get back to.

And that brings me to this year

My first thought was so obvious. An area in which I wanted to grow, something connected to my day-to-day job. It was perfect.

But then I stepped back. It wasn’t the right angle. The 100 days project shouldn’t be about producing. It’s about the act. Developing the discipline of habit. I tend to make things too big. If anything, I wanted my next 100 day project to be absurdly small.

Suddenly, the direction I needed appeared right in front of my face.

There’s nothing special about this particular picture of a waterfall, aside from the fact that I see it several times a day, every weekday.

As I started thinking about it, that’s where my project should go. A hundred days of doing the same thing, of observing the minute details that are only found in repetition. That seemed more in line with my understanding of the project. 100 days of looking at the same picture, perhaps? Find a compelling view and spend 100 days taking the same picture? 100 days of realizing?

But there were logistical problems: how to show that progress? And how would I line it up with some skill I want to develop? How to keep it manageable? What if I travel and can’t take the same picture?

Then, while I was chopping onions for my dinner, I noticed the knife. And the kettle. And the oil bottles on the counter. And I had it: those things that you use or see every day, the objects that surround you. They shape you and influence you. I could make that my project: noticing them, exploring them, documenting them.

So that’s my project: 100 everyday things. So far it’s going well. I started with a loose, crappy sketch just to set the tone. My kettle, one of the most quintessential everyday objects. This is my project in a nutshell: simple drawings of normal objects. At first I wasn’t sure exactly how I would be documenting these objects, but I’ve landed on drawing and will new sticking with that for the rest of the project. It’s a skill I wish I had developed a bit more.

I’ve already noticed my output getting better, and my attention to the things that surround me increasing. Even though I’ve already missed two days, ten days in I’m confident about seeing this one through. In fact, missing those days is what lead to my insight:

It’s not about doing 100 things. It’s about doing that thing for 100 days. One you miss it there’s no going back. Trying to double up will only make the project more of a burden and will increase the chance of giving up.

I’ve learned, at least in some small way, to let go of mistakes and expectations. And now I’ve started drawing in pen.