Lessons from the 100 Day Project

I have a knack for never following through with anything I announce on social media, so I honestly don't know what I was thinking when I decided to do a 100 Day Project and share it with the world. I was sure I would quit after day 3, but for some reason, I kept going, and going and going, until I had 100 patterns under my belt.

When I started, my goals were to get into the habit of creating, expand my design skills, and build a cool portfolio of art, but by the time I finished, I realized I had gained so much more. Here are ten things I learned from participating in the 100 Day Project.

1. Just start. Even if you've got nothing.

Ideas come at a price, and that price is action. If you've got nothing, just get going. Your action opens up a portal for an idea to come through to the real world. If you're stuck, you're probably not doing enough.

2. It doesn't have to be perfect

I often reminded myself that I didn't have to come up with a perfect pattern, just a pattern. Some days were throw away days where I had time for was something quick and simple and that was it. Not every day was a  masterpiece (honestly, none of them were since you can't make a masterpiece in one day.) Some days are going to be less than ideal, but who cares as long as you show up? 

3. Keep your original goal in mind

My goal was to get into the habit of creating, and create I did. If it had been to create high-end works of art, I would've failed miserably. If it had been to create something sell-able every day, I would've failed miserably. When we're in the thick of working on something, it's easy to lose sight of the original goal or intention. Part-way through I started to have visions of grandeur of what I could do with these patterns. I eventually had to remind myself that whatever I did came second to my original goal of being creative. 

4. There is no shortage of ideas

One of my greatest concerns was that I wouldn't have enough ideas, and while there were some days where I struggled to come up with something, they were few and far between. Most of the time I had a steady flow of ideas and by the end of the project, I had many more waiting in the wings. I had learned how to escape the scarcity mindset.

5. You DO have enough time (and energy)

Through this project I've learned that there is more than enough time for your priorities. I made this project a BIG DEAL. There were some days that were crazy busy and I didn't get to work on my pattern until 11:30 at night (my deadline was always midnight) but no matter how tired I was, I would drag myself over to my computer and make a pattern. Other days I would prioritize it in the morning and it always felt great to get it done early. Or sometimes I would find a pocket of time in the afternoon. The point is, it was always on my mind, and I ALWAYS made sure I got to it. This process is repeatable for anything that's a priority. If there's something you want to do but don't seem to have enough time for, check in with yourself to see whether or not it's important to you, and if it isn't, don't worry about letting it go. Life's too short to spend it doing things that aren't important to you.

6. Don't beat yourself up for stuff you didn't know

Would you believe I didn't actually understand how to make a true repeatable seamless pattern until about pattern 85? I mean, I sort of did, but I really didn't. It wasn't until I watched this youtube video that it all clicked for me, and BOOM, it took my patterns to another level.  Everything before that seems kinda lame in my opinion, but it was all necessary to get me to that point where I could understand what that tutorial was teaching me. It meant I had to go back and edit my other patterns, but now I have this knowledge and I can make amazing things going forward. Why should I feel bad for not knowing it sooner?

7. Your way might be work, but there's always a better way. Stay open.

In the beginning, I was using Illustrator exclusively, but it's really tedious compared to drawing with a pen. At the time I thought that was the best way to do it, and consigned myself to this clunky work flow. Then I decided to try using my iPad to hand draw certain elements and all of a sudden I was able to draw much more complex patterns with greater precision and I had much more control over the final product. If I had been so stuck in my thinking, I never would've discovered a MUCH better way. I'm sure there's an even better way, and this project has taught me to stay open to the "better ways."

8. Trust the plan, and take it one day at a time.

When I was on Pattern 30, I remember thinking, "Oh my gosh I have 60 more patterns to make!" and I felt overwhelmed. It's much easier to just focus on what needs to get done today, which in my case was one pattern, and that was enough. As long as I followed my plan and did that one small thing (which wasn't always small...sometimes I'd spend 2 or 3 hours on a pattern), I would reach my goal. Consistently reaching daily goals will get you to your big goal.

9. You are so incredibly capable.

Dare I say that the pride I felt in finishing this project is similar to what I felt giving birth? Actually, giving birth might've been easier because once you're pregnant, that baby's gonna come with no mental effort on your part. Your body just knows what to do to grow and birth a tiny human. At least, that was my experience. With the 100 Day Project, I could've stopped at any time. I didn't HAVE to do it, but when I released my last pattern, I looked back in awe of everything I had created. Some I loved, others, not so much, but I had done it, and now I KNOW I can do difficult things when I put my mind to it. So can you.

10. You're not alone.

While I didn't do the challenge with anyone else, I was always so encouraged by those who interacted with me about my patterns. So many awesome followers cheered me on, and I was so inspired by them to keep going. I think when we reach out and let people know what we're doing and what we want to accomplish, we'll find that we're not alone, and that others are rooting for us to succeed. It definitely kept me going on days where I was feeling unmotivated.

This project really was a game-changer for me. It's a marathon for sure. 100 days is a LONG TIME, and it's mostly a battle with yourself to keep going, but it's worth it if by the end you come out believing that you CAN. Others may know it, and we may know it about others, but for some reason we're often slow to know it about ourselves. If you're one of those and you're not sure what you're capable of, I'm officially challenging you to challenge yourself. It doesn't have to be a 100 day project. Pick something that you've been wanting to do. Break it up into daily actions and attack it every day. Then tell me how much more you believe in yourself when it's done.

Click here to see all 100 patterns, and here to shop tons of cool products that are made with the patterns.