5 Ways the #100DayProject Changed My Life (and Can Change Yours As Well)

I would've never imagined that making handmade cards for 100 days straight would teach me how to listen to my intuition, connect me with strangers from around the world, and give me the courage to leave my full-time job. And yet, when I trace the threads back to when this shift occurred in my life- when I realized that I no longer wanted to live a life misaligned with my sense of self- it all began on July 1, 2016. Otherwise known as Day 1.

The #100DayProject is described by Elle Luna as "a celebration of process that encourages everyone to participate in 100 days of making. The great surrender is the process; showing up day after day is the goal. For the 100-Day Project, it's not about fetishizing finished products- it's all about the process."

I first heard about the project last June at a time in my life when I felt stagnant and uninspired. I wasn't exactly unhappy, but there were definite grumblings of creative discontent. The official window of the #100DayProject was coming to a close, so I decided to create my own 100 days of making with two friends so we could keep each other accountable. My project? I thought about what brings me the greatest joy. As a child, my mom worked the nightshift as a nurse, so I'd leave cards for her on her pillow and she'd leave handwritten letters under mine. Even as a shy student, I convinced former elementary school teachers to become my penpals. As far back as I can remember, handmade cards were the truest, most cherished forms of love I gave and received. So this was the action I chose to create for 100 days.  

Here are five valuable lessons I learned from this project:

1. Not everything you make will be good. That's OK. The point is to keep creating and make the next thing. 

The purpose of the #100DayProject is to get us better at starting. So often, it's our fear of perfectionism that paralyzes us from beginning in the first place. There were plenty of days when I was exhausted from work and all I could manage to do was write a cursive quote on a card and call it a win. But ultimately, you'll begin to find your rhythm, you'll have a breakthrough moment, and all the mediocre in-between moments make those days feel even more golden.

Many times, I feel stuck and stare at the blank card. Sometimes I just have to start sketching an idea down. In that moment of merely starting, another idea will iterate from that simple sketch, and then the creativity starts flowing. The first moment of putting that initial idea down on the paper is like the effort it takes to inflate a balloon. The first few breaths take a lot of work, and after that, things start moving much more easily.
— An excerpt from my journal on 8/17/16, Day 48.

2. Enlist support. Having an accountability partner is key.

100 days can feel like a long time. It's important to have someone to check in with daily, who is also navigating and experiencing this process of creating in a parallel way. You need someone to keep you motivated and laughing, even when you text them a picture of what seems like your most pathetic piece of #100DayProject artwork. Without them, this is a lonely journey. Accountability partners celebrate with you daily for beating The Resistance, make your art feel frameable and worthy (even when it feels far from it), and most importantly, help you value this process of creating. You will learn from each other, and exponentially grow and expand each other's ideas and creativity. My accountability partner Prasun, inspired me through his own #100DayProject, which in turn affected the way I viewed my own art and creative process.

Creativity, like matter, can neither be created nor destroyed. It only changes form. Prasun is now using Indian ink for his project. His best pieces of art are those which presumably take the least amount of effort. It’s created on a whim, in a free-flowing movement, surrendering to the creative force inside of him. For some reason, those are the designs that I gravitate towards the most- they are a truer reflection and snapshot of the creativity moving through him in that magical moment. I’ve decided that I’ve had enough of chalk pastels. I want to work with a medium that’s more free-flowing. Tomorrow I’m switching to watercolors.
— An excerpt from my journal on 8/12/16, Day 43.

3. Creating for ourselves is important. Creating for other people is even more fulfilling and rewarding.

Three weeks into this project, a friend approached me and asked, "You're making all of these handmade cards everyday. Who are you sending them to?" The truth was, they were piling up in my closet. I was embarrassed. So on Day 24, I reached out on Instagram, explained my #100DayProject, and invited anyone who wanted to receive a handmade card to send me a direct message with their address. I was overwhelmed by the response. Old high school friends, college friends who I hadn't seen in years, and complete strangers messaged me. It was delightful. The most enjoyable process was creating for a person who I'd never met before, scrolling through their Instagram feed to grasp how they saw the world and what they found beautiful, and creating a card that mirrored back to them words of encouragement. It was the most fulfilling and rewarding creative challenge. As humans, we have a fundamental need to create things. But when our art can be used to encourage and speak life into others, then it becomes meaningful work.

It’s bringing me more joy when I have someone I’m intentionally creating for. It’s one thing to create art, but when you can use your art as a tool to encourage and speak life into another, it’s far more rewarding. I would’ve never imagined the reciprocity of love from this project and the emails and messages I’m receiving back from people overwhelm my heart. I’m discovering the power of our words. Haruko emailed me to thank me, and her words made me laugh and cry, all in the span of two minutes. I am blown away by the generosity of spirit and what can transpire with the simple act of making a card with love.
— An excerpt from my journal on 8/11/16, Day 42.

4. When you sit and listen long enough, you'll begin to recognize the energy of your intuition.

I can now better recognize my intuition. It's joyful and light, yet it's grounded in peace. There is no resistance, the energy seamlessly flows from my gut to my head to my heart. There is a calm knowingness and a quiet confidence I feel. It cannot be forced. But you must cultivate the space to listen to it.

I’m learning to be open. To not force the inspiration. It comes at random times, at strange moments throughout the day. Sometimes it comes in clear images, and I have to go with it, even if that person is not necessarily next on the list. Trying to force the design or message is useless. I’m learning to relax into this process, knowing that the right message will appear in due time for that particular person. My creativity suffers when I don’t allow myself the adequate time and space to relax and just be still and listen. As life gets busier and my social calendar begins to fill up, I’m finding it even more important to protect this time of creating, to protect this time of listening to my intuition.
— An excerpt from my journal on 8/21/16, Day 52.

5. Once you recognize what your intuition sounds and feels like, expect other areas of your life to profoundly shift.

Little did I know that the first few days of sitting quietly with a blank white card staring back at me was the first time I actually sat down to listen to my intuition.

Day 1's card was completed at 11:30 pm on July 1, 2016 with the simple message- "Keep Growing." Day 2's card was a rectangle labeled 'comfort zone' and a stick figure standing far outside of it. It was a reminder for me to step outside of my comfort zone. These were the small, subtle ways my intuition was gently telling me that the innermost part of myself was striving for more in my life. That I needed more challenge and creativity than I was experiencing at my current job, and that I needed to take a leap professionally and personally to fulfill a deeper calling. 

Below is one of my favorite photos from my #100DayProject. I created it for my friend's son, yet the message was a universal one:

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Little did I know that creating these different cards, often late at night and exhausted after a long day's work, was the act of listening to my intuition. The messages I would choose to draw and write on these cards were truthful messages that were buried deep inside. They were in fact, love letters to my soul. The three months following the completion of my #100DayProject was a time where I was putting all the puzzle pieces together. Trying out different combinations, flipping them around, matching colors and augmenting angles to align what my head, my heart, and my gut knew to be true, and figuring out how to make them all fit together. On February 3, 2017, I left my full-time job of 10 years to venture out into a new career path. One where I am forced to keep growing. And one where I am stepping outside of my comfort zone each day. It's never easy leaving the safety and stability that I've known for a decade, but there is a calm knowingness and a quiet confidence I feel. Because now I can recognize the still, small, peaceful voice of my intuition. It only took 100 days.

If you'd like to join in on this year's #100DayProject, we start on April 4th and create until July 12, 2017! Message me or go to https://the100dayproject.org/what-is-the100dayproject-fbb4d1754a90 to find out more!