What I learned from writing 100 days in a row
“Habits are the compound interest of self-improvement” — James Clear
Today, I am writing the 100th edition of morning thoughts. This means, for the last 100 weekdays, I have gotten up in the morning and one of the first things I did was sit down to write. Writing about ideas. Writing about learnings from books. Writing about realizations I had. The prime objective for me was not to build a huge audience, but rather to practice discipline in writing and beating resistance over and over again. After 100 days, there are three learnings I am taking away from this exercise, that I would like to share today.
Before this 100-day sequence of writing daily, I have written articles before. I wrote every once in a while, inconsistently about a wide range of things. If you would’ve asked me whether I was a writer, I’d respond with a clear no. Now after 100 days, I am much closer (not there yet) to answering that question with a yes. The lesson is this: You establish your identity through your repeated actions. When you write every day, you automatically establish your identity of being a writer day by day. When you produce music every day, you establish your identity of being a musician day by day. The actions we take on daily are what define our identity over the long run.
In the past, there have been multiple projects and initiatives I started and quit within less than a week. In hindsight, perhaps some of those ideas weren’t good in the first place, so quitting was inevitable. However, as Seth Godin talks about in his book The Dip, no matter which project you are pursuing, there will always come a point at which you consider quitting. The point at which you question the work because the initial excitement has dropped. One powerful realization for me is this: If you work on something every day as part of your routine, and identity, you increase the likelihood of you sticking with that thing tremendously. After 100 days, writing in the morning feels almost like brushing my teeth. Why? Because I included it in my daily routine. So whenever you work on a project or want to pick up a new skill, break it down to the smallest daily action you can take. And then do it every day. Sure, there are days when something gets in the way. Start again tomorrow. Never miss more than two days in a row, then you’ll be fine. The daily practice prevents quitting.
As I started writing these thoughts on a daily basis, I consciously tried to avoid checking any kind of external stats and numbers that validated what I did. Why? Because when you benchmark your work with external metrics, you will always be discouraged. It’s great to be successful with the things you do (as defined by the perception of others), but it’s even greater to do your work for its own sake. If you fall in love with what you do, you don’t need anyone else telling you to keep going. It’s truthful work, that feels like play to you. It’s the kind of atelic activity that allows you to unleash the greatest work within you. Are other pursuits that are based on external validation worthwhile? Perhaps. But to me, especially in creative endeavors, finding work that you are doing for the sake of it, is the best work you will produce. Following this motive, the score will keep track of itself.
As of now, I have written around 25.000 words, with 35 people getting my thoughts every day and a total of 1000+ views on my pieces of writing. This may not seem like a great success to some, but to me, it’s all about my journey of literal expression. It’s about doing the work, even if “no one” is watching. This is a starting point for something I view in the long term. Let’s see where this will take me. Do I know with certainty? Of course not. But I believe it’s worth taking the odds. Acta non verba.