15 Ways To Create A Daily Practice That Sticks
I created this list after I challenged myself to create one drawing a day for 100 days last winter. I was terrified to start drawing because it had been so long, but I knew I really wanted to do it. After pushing through a lot of self-doubt and setting up a few rules, by the end of the 100 days I was drawing with complete wild abandon, joy, flow and ease - and I continue to draw this way today! This list will hopefully be helpful for all of those joining me on the next 100 Epic Days Challenge!
1. Forming Your Idea
If you're trying to think of an idea to do for your 100 days, think about an area in your life that you would like to see some improvement, change, or would just be curious about (career, love, health, self-care, creativity, friendships...etc). Now think of a big thing that would take a ton of time, but would be amazing around that area. For example, I would love to see some change around my love-life. A big thing I could do is have date-night every week with my husband. Since I know that's not something I could do every day, what about connecting after bedtime every night to watch a show or just hang out, nope! Still too big and time-consuming for us. Ok, what if every day I stared lovingly into the eyes of my husband and we both counted to 5. YES! Now that's something I could do every day for 100 days. How you can work backwards to find your idea.
2. Goal vs. Becoming
Now take that area of your life that you picked and think about who you want to become. For the example about around my love-life, my goal for the 100 days is to stare lovingly into my husband's eyes every day for 5 seconds, but who I want to become by doing that is more connected to my partner. Another example for my past challenge, my goal was to create 1 drawing a day, but who I wanted to become was an artist who creates freely with joy and zero hesitation or fear.
3. Create Some Theatre Around it
Tell your partner, roommates, family, friends, cats, dogs (whoever is in your inner circle) that you are committed to doing this every day and it is very important to you. There is great power in saying something out-loud. In forming the words outside of your head, you are setting an intention, which is an essential part to ensuring success throughout the 100 days.
4. Cop-out Plan
Whatever you pick to do for your 100 days, choose a very short 2-5 minute or less version related to this thing that you can do on the days when you are too tired or just don't feel like showing up. 100 days is a LONG time, and the magic is truly in doing your thing EVERY DAY, even if it's just the quick version. You want to keep the momentum going, but also ensure that the new neural pathways you are creating in training your brain to form this new habit strengthen to the greatest ability. For me, last time I did this my drawing a day involved a character with text and some other design elements. For my cop-out day, I simply drew a quick phrase or quote. I will also add here, try not to stock pile or backlog things to pull from for your hard days. The idea here is to show your brain that you can show up every single day, no matter what and let it sort out that puzzle by doing this "lite" version of your thing. This is truly where the magic is.
5. Don't Subtract
If you're making a goal around what you eat, for example, instead of saying "I'm going to quit sugar for 100 days," you could say, "Every time I have a sugar craving, I will eat fruit instead or journal about it." In the book Atomic Habits by James Clear, he says a habit should be satisfying. When we simply remove something, it's not as satisfying as adding. Also, in adding something, we can document it easier, which is also very satisfying.
6. Acknowledge Where You're At
Some people will be searching and some people will be implementing a specific idea / project or doing a specific thing. In my past challenge, I was definitely searching for answers. I knew I wanted to draw, but I didn't know what or how or where it would end up. I chose a medium (black and white drawings on Procreate around the theme of the gut microbiome). I trusted that if I did enough drawings, it would morph and lead me to where I needed to go. By day 100 I was creating very consistent drawings around a new theme - manifestation and mindset! This time around, for my challenge I using the 100 days to produce a very specific project (an affirmation card deck based on the drawings I made). So, everyone will be in a different place with the challenge. Try not to compare yourself to others and trust that what you are doing is exactly right for you.
7. Make It Measurable
Instead of saying, "I'm going to write for 20 minutes a day," it's better to say, "I'm going to write 1 page on this specific theme every day." Or, instead of saying, "I'm going to exercise for 20 min." it's better to say, "I'm going to do 3 sets of these specific abdominal exercises every day." Yes, you can measure time, but there's something so much more satisfying in "shipping a product." I could have very easily said, "I'm going to draw for 20 min. a day," but there's no way I would have plowed through 100 drawings, discovered I wanted to draw mindset themes vs. microbiome, honed my skills and message the way I did if I hadn't picked a very measurable goal like, one drawing-a-day.
8. Your Thing Might Change, But Walk The Line of Fear
Listen to your intuition if you feel you need to change what you're doing for your 100 days. I set out thinking I would create drawings about the microbiome, but ended up shifting to drawings about mindset. The first 10 days of this challenge can be VERY difficult as our brains grapple with doing something new. While it's good to listen to your inner voice if you need to change what you're doing, make sure you're not ditching something out of fear. Also, one thing to note when I switched my theme to mindset drawings, notice that I didn't switch mediums or the character or add color...etc. I simply changed the theme. There were MANY times throughout the challenge when I was tempted to abandon ship on black and white with Procreate and start painting on canvas with color, but I'm SO glad I stuck it out for the 100 days.
9. Identify and Unblock your Limiting Beliefs
Write a list of why this will be hard for you. Maybe you're like me and you feel that you can't create art because you have small children. Now ask the universe to send you Expanders to prove that thought wrong. I did this a while back and literally the next day I happened upon a podcast called "Artist / Mother" which had hundreds of episodes of moms who were succeeding in their careers despite having to care for young children! This showed me my limiting belief was just that - a limiting thought and I could overcome it easier knowing there were those out there succeeding with similar challenges to my own.
10. Become Super Human
No one wants to hear this, but...during these 100 days you're going to be asking your body to do something extraordinary! You're going to be creating new brain maps and neural pathways through this repetitive action that you're taking every day. In order to that, you'd going to be expending cognitive resources. To best support your physical vessel during this process, it's best to cut back on sugar, processed foods, alcohol...etc and maximize plant-based, whole foods. People were asking my last time I did this challenge how I was able to have so much energy despite being sleep-deprived nursing and caring for a newborn baby, and I attribute much of that to feeding my body to create a superhuman, high-functioning machine.
11. What Systems Can You Optimize?
I had a big talk with my husband the last time I did this challenge to see what things around the house were taking up a lot of my time and how we could change that. One example was the laundry and cleaning the kitchen. During my baby's nap time, I'd waste over an hour folding laundry and cleaning up after meals. We decided to free up nap time so that I could do my drawings during that time instead. We got 2 giant laundry bins and all clean laundry we dumped in there all week long until Friday, when we would put on a movie and fold it together. For the kitchen, we decided it was ok for the kitchen to be a disaster all day and let the dished pile up all day long until after dinner when I would clean while my husband put the kids to bed. This has become a nice zen time for me to listen to my podcasts and audio books. We essentially are taking tasks and batching them. So, what chores or time wasters can you batch in your day to free up your time?
12. Prep Your Stuff
Before you go into any sort of daily habit, what can you do to get ready? If you're doing a painting a day, but your watercolor paper and cut it into 100 squares. If you're posting on Pinterest every day, watch some instructional tutorials for best practices. if you're wanting to exercise every day, cue up your YouTube playlist.
13. Post It!
I highly recommend posting every single day what you did for the habit you're trying to create. If it doesn't make sense with your current brand, make a separate account (you can even keep it private if you want). if you're wanting to do yoga every day, take a picture of your feet on the yoga mat and write a little caption on how you're feeling that day. How cool will it be when you have 50 posts on there of your feet on the mat? It's super satisfying to see these little square tiles build up because it's a visual reflection of all of the hard work you've put it and how far you've come.
14. Get Specific
Write down with as much detail as possible where, when and how you will do your thing. For example, for my drawing-a-day challenge, it wasn't enough to say I'll do my drawing in the morning. I had to say, "When I wake up with the baby in the morning after I get my coffee, I will sit on the floor in the living room against the couch and sketch with pencil on paper my idea for the day. Then, during nap time, I take a picture of my sketch, import it into Procreate, make a new new layer and trace it in black and white. Then throughout the day every time I have 5 minutes when the baby and my daughter are happy playing, I will try to finish my drawing. Then, after I clean up the kitchen, I will finish the drawing and export it to post to Instagram and write my caption." Phew! I know, it's a lot, mentally rehearsing the little steps of how you'll get it down, makes it seem more doable.
Speaking of mentally rehearsing, it's helpful to try to visualize the feeling of reaching day 100 before it arrives and before you start your challenge to create this daily habit. Imagine the intense feeling of gratitude for having shown up for yourself and pride for what you've accomplished. Imagine how happy you'll feel and try to embody the person you desired to become in setting out on this quest in the first place. Feeling these high frequency emotions will set an intention and energy pattern into the universe and start to call what you set out to do.
That's it! Good luck on your quest to create a daily habit. If you set yourself up for success before you start, you will truly surprise yourself on what you accomplish and who you become!