There are 100 days left in 2017.
What will you do with them?
I hurried to pull this together because I thought you should know.
There are 100 days left in 2017.
Somewhere between January 1 and today, life happened. Things changed. The Tyson adage came to pass:
“Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”
Goals are golden. New Years resolutions intend well. They’re powerful propellers, mobilizing us toward grand achievements and new experiences. But for those of us with especially harsh inner critics, staring at the giant gulf between our goal setting and goal achieving can have opposite effect: self-flagellation, deflation, depression.
This is nonsense. Today we’re born anew.
We still have 100 days.
What could you do in a hundred days?
Could you write a book?
Could you launch a side project?
Could you hand in your notice?
Could you make progress on [fill in unrealized dream here]?
Sure you could.
Will it be any good?
Hell, I don’t know.
It doesn’t matter. You don’t have to be good.
100 days of doing something shittily that you’ve been thinking about outweighs spending another 100 sitting around thinking about it.
You probably don’t even need 100 days. But look at what we did with the last 265…We’ll take what we have.
And we have 100.
What could you do WITH 100 days?
The temptation here is to set a big, audacious goal. And you could do that. But here’s another option. Instead of “What could you do IN 100 days?”, try:
“What could you do WITH 100 days?”
What needs to change in your life?
What are you putting off?
What might you chisel away at?
What might happen if you spent 30 minutes of every single day in the pursuit of something new, different, or challenging?
15 minutes if you’re stretched? 60 if you’ve got the time?
It doesn’t even have to be every single day.
What if you took 100 of the tiniest steps in the direction of a dream?
Building a skill you don’t yet have. Starting a project you’re putting off. Working on a creative pursuit.
1 step today. 3 steps tomorrow. 0 steps for 5 days. 6 steps next weekend.
Anne Dillard once said:
“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour, and that one, is what we are doing.”
What popped into your head or swelled in your heart reading this section?
That’s the one. Let’s run with it.
But First, A Cautionary Tale
I have to admit, I tried this once before.
In 2014, I pledged to do 100 Days of Asks.
I realized that my fear of rejection was holding back my growth. Fear of asking for what I wanted kept me inside a small comfy bubble. By not knowing what I wanted, I was giving away my freedom. Not having the balls to choose something to want left me void of desire. And as any storyteller will tell you, a character with no desire is effectively dead.
For 100 days, I’d ask for something, anything, I desired. I started strong.
100 people joined me. I did some fun and funny things.
And then about 25 days in, I flopped. Crash. Boom. Pow.
I sprinted out the gate, but puttered out after a few laps. While a few others followed through on their plans, most lapsed as well.
Something was missing. 3 things in particular:
Mission. Time. Stakes.
These are the new rules of the game. Let’s pick them apart.
The Rules of the Game
We need a mission. I know you could have many missions. But we can only pick one. What’s Mission #1?
Steven Pressfield would say: pick your White Whale.
“Which idea, of all those swimming inside your brain, are you compelled to pursue the way Ahab was driven to hunt Moby Dick?
Here’s how you know — you’re scared to death of it.
It’s good to be scared. You should be scared. Mediocre ideas never elevate the heart rate. Great ones make you break out in a sweat.”
What might you repeatedly chisel away at so that when December 31 rolls around, you’ll have built mountain of tiny deeds on that White Whale?
Ben Keene says: “Keep your head in the clouds and your feet in the mud.”
Your mission is your head high in the clouds.
Your 100 minuscule tasks are your baby steps slopping through the mud.
- Write down all the reasons WHY you’re doing this.
- Revisit your WHY daily. Especially when you find yourself forgetting why the hell you’re doing this. Half the time you won’t know you’ve forgotten. Better to re-read it daily.
- Focus on the system around the goal vs the goal itself. James Clear has excellent material on this.
I started the 100 days challenge in 2014 when I had lots of free time. As soon as work got intense, things got hairy. I dropped the ball. Two things in particular fucked me up:
It took too long. Performing “an ask” could be lightning speed. But what took time was constantly thinking about it and then the aftermath of it: uploading it to my site, sharing it, etc.
Doing it every day. When I missed a day, then another, then another… it became heavier and heavier. Had I forgave myself and let a few days slip, I might have kept up with it.
- It should take 30 minutes. Or less.
- Try 100 tasks vs. 100 days. Whatever works for you.
- The tasks need to be tiny. Most of the time the small steps we imagine are actually a handful of steps bunched together. Rip them apart.
- Pay yourself first. Make it your first task of the day. Put your oxygen mask on before assisting another.
In 2014 I made a public commitment to 100 days of asks. What was at stake for me was my integrity to my readers and potential public humiliation for not following through.
Both came to pass. It turns out they weren’t very good drivers for me.
Instead of pushing me toward my goal, it ate me up instead. For months I beat myself up. I felt the pain, but didn’t win the game. Lose-Lose.
Those might be good stakes for you. Other ideas that might work better.
- A public deadline. Book yourself to give a talk on December 31 or early January.
- Pledge money. Give $1,000 to a friend. Tell them to pay you $10 every time you complete a task. Or have them tally up all the tasks on December 31, and have them pay you back $10 for every task you completed.
- Document it weekly. Here’s a template.
- Accountability. Do it alongside a a group of people (see below.)
Ready? Let’s Go.
Last night I watched a clip of actor Peter Dinklage talking about his career as an actor. This line hit me hard:
“Don’t bother telling the world you are ready. Show it. Do it.”
You don’t have to announce anything to the world. You don’t have to announce it to me. Just like I learned I don’t need to announce it to you.
But if you want some accountability to give yourself a better fighting chance for the next 100 days, let me know here.
To keep things sexy, if 100 people sign up for this, I’ll put together an accountability group for us. We’ll share our missions, make the time, and set the stakes. And on December 31 we’ll all share how far we’ve come.
Dinklage finished his talk:
“Rise the rest of your life to meet you.”
You’ve got another shot at 2017. Rise the next 100 days up to meet you.