You’re 365 Days away from being a better human.
It’s been three years since I wrote my very first post in my very first 365 Challenge: to fire up a blog I once adored and let sit dormant for years with one post every day for 365 days. It was far more successful and fulfilling than I could have imagined and I’ve become an advocate for 365 Projects ever since, much to the irritation of my friends and family.
In 2012, what I now refer to as The Dark Days, I didn’t complete a 365. In 2013, I enacted Project Fat Ass. To quote myself: “…before I give up all hope of ever being the kind of person who can run for 6+miles and/or fit into single-digit clothing, I’d like to give myself a fair shot by forcing myself to face my fat every single day for 365 days. And then of course running a 10K so I can be sure something tangible came out of it: a certificate and a t-shirt.”
I did. I did all of that except get in the single digits (they’re a terrible myth, I’m sure of it). I exercised every day and ran a 5K and then exercised every day and ran a 10K and I got a shirt and a finisher’s medal. I took shots of myself every month and tracked my progress . At my least fit, I was 189. At my fittest, I was 155. It was really hard and it was completely worth it.
365s aren’t necessarily about getting fitter, but they can be. They can be about anything you want them to be. It can be a truly transformative thing to dedicate yourself to being better at something every single day for 365 Days.
If you’re serious about this, you don’t need to start at the beginning of the month. In fact, I discourage it. You can start any day with no excuses – just mark it down. By this time next year, you can be a seriously better person in whichever one area you choose. You might seriously suck at whatever it is, but after an entire year of trying it day after day after day, you will suck a lot less. I promise.
You might be wondering what my 365 for 2014 is, and that leads me to my next point: if you don’t think you can do 365 days, try the 30 Day Challenge. On day 31, you can go for another 335 or just be done with it. Either way, you’ll be a somehow better human than you are right now.
If, however, you’re ready to roll on a Project 365 right this moment, here’s the blueprint:
1) Think of something you sincerely suck at that you want to improve. It can be writing, being physically active, spending more time with your family, reading, cooking – whatever. You can give something up or try something. It’s that thing you always say you can’t do or won’t do or can’t imagine. It’s the thing that you always wish you would be better at and secretly wonder if you could do it if you really tried. That thing.
2) Identify one thing you can do every day that will get you closer to that goal. Examples: to get better at writing, write for X amount of time every day or X amount of pages every day. To get more physically active, commit to X number of minutes working out each day. To be a better cook, commit to cook a full meal at home every single day. You can take photos, call people, create things – the world is your oyster. But pick something measurable. At the end of the day, you should be able to clearly state that you either did or did not complete your activity that day. No gray areas.
3) Tell people you’re doing it. You can certainly complete a 365 Challenge in silence, but I wouldn’t recommend it. It’s really hard. Sometimes you’re going to need to excuse yourself from things so that you can tend to your 365. If you tell people what you’re doing and get them on board, you’ll be able to lean on supporters when you need them, to find unexpected cheerleaders when you’re down, and you might even inspire someone to take up the torch. Tell people. This won’t be easy. Besides: the possibility of public shaming after your announcement can be very motivating. if you don’t want to tell anyone or you’re a hermity hermit like myself, you can always drop me a line so that you’ve put it out into the universe. I will be your cheerleader, friend. I really will.
4) Slow and steady: 365 days in a row. In an ideal world, you won’t falter. I really hope you make it all the way because it feels spectacular. But if you’re afraid you’ll miss a day, get discouraged, and quit, I highly recommend considering ahead of time what your penance will be so that you can pay it if you should you owe it and move on. Make it hurt so you don’t skip again. There are plenty of tips and tricks along the way to take advantage of, like making a motivation board for yourself or documenting your journey somehow. Use as many or as few as are helpful to you; you have an entire year to see what’s effective. The journey is all about learning how to properly leverage your motivators. Mine are often tasty.
5) Share with me your glorious splendor. I would really love to add you to my little hall of fame. If you have a website and post about your experience, I’ll send folks there to read about your adventure. If you don’t have a website, I’m happy to post your name and picture and a little bit of reflection about your experience. Either use this handy dandy contact form or just leave me a comment below.
Here’s a look at some notable Project 365ers
- Her Days Are Numbered – I started my first Project 365 because a gal named Lauren Morrison started her own where she took a photo every single day. Her journey was captured here and I’m forever in her debt.
- Julie/Julia Project – perhaps the most well-known, this blog by Julie Powell featured her daily attempts to cook every recipe in Mastering the Art of French Cooking by Julia Child. It was later turned into a book and a movie.
- 365 Letters – Carla wrote a letter every day in 2009 and 2010.
- Live and Let Livia – Livia Scott recorded herself performing a different character each day for a year.
- Stormtroopers365 – Stefan documented the daily adventures of two toy Stormtroopers every day.
For more information on 365 projects, you can also check out “365: A Daily Creativity Journal” by Noah Scalin.
Good luck, friend; it’s a long but fruitful journey. You’ve got this.