Wow. I did it.
100 days ago I started a challenge, a small journey if you will, that I thought would last 30 days and I, frankly, didn’t think much of it. I thought, “This will be fun.” I kinda just like challenges or experiments: go gluten free for 6 weeks, juice fast for 3 weeks, write every day for 30 days. They’re a kick. They check your pulse and see if you can still rise to the occasion. And hey, it’s just an experiment, right? See what happens. What do you have to lose? Just “see if you can do it.” I did it.
Maybe the most exciting part of this experiment was that I’m not sure I had a goal. The goal was maybe just the habit: get back into writing shape (more on that below). I didn’t think it would last beyond the 30 days and I thought it would just be interesting to see what I wrote after 30 days. Yippee. Yahoo. “Oh, that’s nice dear.” Move onto eating only Alaskan salmon and bell peppers every day for a month.
When I did a juice fast for 3 weeks, surprising things happened. My taste buds changed. I craved apples! A juicy fuji was like a giant chocolate cake for me. I savored every dripping bite. I didn’t want pasta, meat, or starch. Part of my tastes changed, my cravings, my lifestyle a bit. Does that mean part of me changed?
With writing every day, there are so many changes it’s even a little shocking (and maybe slightly embarrassing) to admit them. But they’re important. I need to admit them to grow, to learn, to improve. Geez, slow down pal, it’s just Writing Every Day! That’s what I thought. How wrong I was. Here we go.
- A business was born. Excuse me? From writing? This was nowhere even on the radar of expectations. But it happened. Because I was determined to not write garbage, I wrote as if I were a guru, as if my mailing list were in the millions. It forced me to write better, to write for a smarter, larger audience. Through that, ideas came about that led to meetings, retweets, comments, discussions, that brought on furious brainstorming, scribbling, note taking, mapping, framing, which all gave birth to repossible. I dare you to ask me how excited I am about this.
- Priorities shifted. I love challenges. I’m good at them because I won’t give up. I’ll work my ass off. I’ll annoy others. I have a crazy busy day job. But I had this challenge. I had to get my post out for the day. I had client work to do. Priorities: money and clients versus personal challenge and pride? I didn’t miss a post in 100 days. Did I lose some clients? Maybe. Priorities shifted. Priorities are huge for me. This is huge for me. This is change before my eyes.
- I fell in love with writing (again). Since we had kids (9 years ago) writing has taken a back seat. I openly admitted to myself that I would someday get back into it. The trouble was I couldn’t find someday on the calendar. I always said, “Well, it’s not like I’m a pro football player, I can get back into anytime.” Drug addicts say that. Anytime and someday weren’t happening. They’re now here. It’s that day.
- I fell in love with my kids (again). I’m going to get in trouble for this one, but here goes … there’s the old, “If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there, does it make a sound?” We have lots of adventures. In fact, kids have adventures every day. For me, writing down something about the events, the moments, the experiences makes it real, makes it stronger, burrows it deeper in my memory. Late one night in a kayak, my 6-year old said to me, “The most beautiful place is in your heart.” Holy crap. Knuckle-dragging-mouth-breathing dumbfounded father. Sure, I would have remembered that, but I wrote about the silky swamps and it not only engrained it into writing for eternity, it seared it into my memory. I’m thankful beyond words for that. I’m humbled. I’m proud.
- Imagination ignited. If you take a run every single day along roughly the same route, you’re bound to see new things, discover new paths, and explore. If you keep your eyes open and you’re up for change. Even better? If you’re looking for change. Because I was getting into “writing shape,” topics came to me more clearly, my sentences flowed more easily, I started writing about topics I never would have dared or bothered with were I not in shape and didn’t have a deadline. I started posts and went on tangents and brand new ideas were born. I lost a contest and examined what happened. I wrote a How To on how we plan our vacations. I hung up some photos and built a philosophy around it. I turned a third-grade assignment into an annual challenge. See where I’m going? None of this would have been created, thought about, discussed, even existed had I not taken the first step. None.
- The future is brighter, accessible, and it’s now. Sorry, the future is brighter? Seriously? Seriously. I now have a tool to move forward. Looking back, I was cruising, now I’m going somewhere and I know how to get there. I also now have a huge advantage: I’ve already started. I don’t have to worry about that first step, which, of course, is the hardest. I’m already moving, in fact, I’m flying. I’m unstoppable.
Exaggerated? I don’t think so. If I did a chart of the past few years of my passion, energy, excitement, hope, and energy these past 100 days are a steep ascent. The best part, if I take a huge step back and see that same chart, I’m just getting started. It’s going to be a long haul, a huge ascent, I’m packed, fired up, and readier than ever. I can’t wait–and I don’t have to. It’s now.
Here’s a bit more detail about the process, complete with ups and downs and tips and tricks.
30 Days In
After 30 days, I thought, “I can do this.” Not only could I do this, I was actually doing it. I was ready for more. I saw no reason to stop. The benefits were too great and, shock, horror, spoiler alert: it was getting easier and easier.
You’re reading this and thinking (no, really, I know what you’re thinking): I couldn’t post every day for 100 days. There are a variety of reasons why such a big goal is daunting:
- I don’t have time.
- I would run out of ideas.
- I have a day job.
- I would lose steam.
- I have kids. Lots of kids.
- What about weekends?
- It’s just too much, too long, too many, too often, too … something, I’m sure.
- It’s too much work.
On Day One, Take One Step
I completely agree, 100 posts is “too much work.” I couldn’t write 100 (quality) posts right now. I just couldn’t, it’s not possible. But I could write one. That’s all that’s required. The easiest analogy to understand is weight loss. If you want to lose 30 pounds, it’s overwhelming, it’s a lot, it’s definitely not fun. But what about just a single pound? What about an ounce? What’s an ounce anyway? Maybe a slice of pizza?
Make the Habit the Goal
Even better than thinking only about that single pound as the goal, think about the change in your daily actions, your lifestyle, that has to happen to achieve that goal.
- Don’t think: I need to lose one pound.
- Think: I’ll replace my cereal with a shake for breakfast.
Don’t worry about the 30 pounds. Worry about the shake. Not 30 shakes, just one shake. Don’t worry about 30 posts, worry about the single post. You get to day two, think about day two’s post, not day three’s post and certainly not day thirty’s. It’ll take a while, but you might just develop a rhythm, a pace, gasp, a habit.
Can you do it alone? Depends on your determination, your strength, your will. Want to make it easier (and actually harder) at the same time? Let someone know what you’re doing. In fact, don’t just let them know, challenge them to challenge you. I’ve read where people will give money to someone else every time they stray from their goal. Do whatever it takes to make you do your thing. But do your thing.
My accountability came in the form of the creator of both the Write Every Day Experiment as well as the concept of Make Habits Your Goal. John Muldoon was a huge factor for me in this challenge as he wasn’t only checking in on me, he was rooting for me. He wanted me to succeed. If you can find someone who will take you seriously and cheer for you as well as coach, you’ve found a good chunk of the accountability. The other chunk is going from, of course, you can guess, who else is at stake here? Oh yes, you.
How To Get Started
Daunted? Excited? Bit of both? You’re going to need a bit more of the excited and a bit less of the daunted to get this done. But big change is hard. Small change is easier. Where to get started? At the beginning. When to get started? How does now sound?
What’s between possible, you, and impossible? Take a look, it’s right there, in the middle. You.
- Possible: you of today.
- Impossible: you of yesterday.
- Repossible: you of tomorrow.