My 100 Day Experiment saved my life. I know that sounds dramatic–but the results really were THAT dramatic. Whether you want to make a habit or break a habit, there is something special about 100 days.
The 100 Day Experiment is a game changer. Whatever habit it is you want to make (or break)–there’s something magical about picking a thing and doing it for 100 days. It’s enough time to make a difference, but not enough time for panic about doing something uncomfortable FOREVER to kick in.
In December 2013 I decided I had to do something. I was sick. So sick. Everything hurt all the time. My whole body was swollen and miserable. I was starting to have trouble moving. I was so tired that I could barely function.
Then I came across this blog post that talked about how much a person needed to to eat just to survive. It was way more than I would have expected. In desperation, I decided to try eating at or above that amount (instead of continuing an insane cycle of eating far too little, followed by far too much) and exercising for 10 minutes a day for 100 days.
It changed my life. By the end of the 100 days I felt better. A lot better. Better enough to keep going for another 100 days.
Since then, I’ve used the 100 Day Experiment in lots of ways. Including helping me get back on track when I lost my way with writing. Seriously–try writing for 10 minutes a day for 100 days. Just see what happens.
I think there’s a kind of magic in 100 days. It’s long enough to internalize a new behavior and make it your new habit. I know, I know–that’s supposed to happen in 21 days. It doesn’t for me. After 21 days, it’s still too easy to go back to my old habit. But after 100 days–just about three and a half months–whatever is going to stick from what you’re doing is stuck. You aren’t doing it just because you’re supposed to anymore. You’re doing it because it’s just what you do.
It’s also short enough not to trigger panic at the idea of doing something new FOREVER. I don’t know about you, but that’s the worst feeling for me. Even if something feels good, the idea of just never not doing it makes me anxious. I love that 100 days is just the right amount of time. Long enough, but not too long. There are plenty of things that I don’t worry about doing forever. I don’t panic at the idea of having to read books until I die or never being able to stop going to the grocery store.
Turns out that 100 days is long enough for something to stop being what you have to do, and start being just what you do. And if it’s not–well, it’s a good thing there’s another 100 days coming up right behind the first, right?
I propose that we make the 100 Day Experiment the lynch pin of the Slow Down Revolution. Instead of trying to find the shortest route to a new habit, we’ll take it slow. Make habits that stick, instead of constantly trying to beat them into ourselves, three weeks at a time.
Here’s how to set up a 100 Day Experiment of your own.
CHOOSE A THING YOU WANT TO INCORPORATE INTO YOUR LIFE.
Don’t get overly ambitious or complicated here. Think of something simple, but that will have a big impact. It can be BIG and difficult to do (trust me when I say that in the beginning, the idea of exercising for even 10 minutes made me want to cry)–but it should also be simple. That way there’s less wiggle room.
If you’re trying to build a daily writing habit, my suggestion is: Write for 10 Minutes a Day.
MAKE A COMMITMENT TO DO THAT THING FOR 100 DAYS
Write it down. Tell someone. Tell everyone. Get a calendar and some gold stars and give yourself one for each day that you follow through.
When it gets hard, remind yourself that it’s only 100 days. Just focus on doing what you’ve promised yourself you will do today. Instead of focusing on the end goal, when the going gets tough put your effort into just making sure that today isn’t the day you quit.
KEEP A JOURNAL
This is optional, but I found it really helpful. I started a Tumblr blog and wrote about my experiment everyday for 200 days. It helped. If you’re not quite the over-sharer that I am, just get a notebook and jot down a few lines everyday. Write about how you feel. Record your little victories. Pay attention to how doing your thing is affecting your life.
TAKE ANOTHER 100 DAYS IF YOU NEED TO (OR WANT TO)
I wasn’t ready to stop after 100 days. I didn’t feel like I was ready to. So I didn’t. I just kept going for another 100 days. It was obvious to me when I didn’t need to formality anymore–I stopped wanting to write about it. My journal entries started to be come routine, instead of full of new discoveries and wonder at how good I was feeling. If you’re afraid you’ll go back to your old habit when your 100 days is over, that’s okay. Just keep going.
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The Magic of 100 Days
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