Your First 100 Days: Finding Clarity.

See, what happened was this:

When I said, to my son, “of course we’ll take care of the puppy while you go on your trip!” what I meant was, “I don’t remember what it’s like having a puppy, but I’ll take care of yours because you and your sister are more important to me than anything else, and it’s OK to have to put my projects of choice (blogging…) on hold so I can make sure the puppy doesn’t ingest anything harmful or pick a fight with our grumpy old terrier.”

If you haven’t given up on following this 100-day project work, then let’s pick up where I left off?

And to re-center us (or to orient anyone who’s just joining): In my personal experience, the way to start fresh, harnessing the natural energy around a new calendar year, is first to look at the recent past, finding clues about what is and isn’t serving forward progress. Put another way, I become a student of the best version of me by looking at my own past behaviors, actions, decisions, responses, feelings, and desires.

After looking through the recent past for context, I then spend time visualizing the future I want. I’ve done that visualization work through vision boards, journaling, and fore-form writing. The most powerful approach, for me, is always a physical vision board – something I can look at for reference, months later.

Having spent several years developing this approach for myself and having worked one-on-one with colleagues on similar efforts, I’m turning this approach into an online course called Your First 100 Days. For all of you who’ve followed along, off and on, for the past 10 years here on the blog, I’m offering that same content (minus the video lessons) in daily posts. The first post in the series is here.

The materials for the work are in the course workbook, which you can download and print for free this month. Note that the workbook references information and videos that are in the online course, that won’t be available here.

The first module, INVESTIGATE, has four sections:

  • Investigate your own recent past, making notes about the prior year – victories and defeats alike – without interpreting or judging them.
  • After some time to reflect on that work, revisit the notes and look for patterns, insights, and things that you want to think about as you prepare your plan for the year ahead.
  • Grounded in that examination of the recent past, take a gratitude snapshot, acknowledging the things/people/events for which you are grateful, right now, and noting what makes you proud, what you want more of in the year ahead, and what you hope to leave behind or minimize.
  • Complete the module by listing 100 “wants” – which may be the most challenging part of this first block of work.

The second module, IMAGINE, is all vision board work, but I’d recommend doing it in steps:

  • Write words that describe what you want for yourself in the coming year(s), thinking about the various parts of your life – health, financial well-being, relational well-being, etc. Starting with words is similar to writing an outline before drafting an article or long-form essay.
  • Additional work, if it’s helpful, it an exercise in reviewing mindset and limiting beliefs. (Note: the worksheets for this additional exercise are not in the main workbook but are in this post.)
  • Create a visual vision board – the work in this course/workbook has everything you’ll need, though it will require printing a number of pages in color and then cutting/pasting your way away. You can do the same work with magazines or other materials. The point is to get it done, not just to think about doing it one day. Remember, progress not perfection.

The third module is IDENTIFY, and it starts with an exercise in finding clarity.

Maybe you’re thinking, by this point, “When are we going to get to the actual work of setting goals and making a plan to start the first 100 days, since it’s now January 24th?”

The 100 days began the moment you decided to think about the one hundred days ahead of you. So if that was on January 1, then you’re now on day 24, whether or not you’re on the 24th question, exercise, or module (which would be silly, since there are only 5 modules in this course).

Point here? Don’t quit, even if you get pulled off course. Just get up, wherever you are, and keep moving.

Clarity might help with that. This page in the workbook (which is available for download in the first post, here) has seven questions for your consideration:

  • What do I want to have in the future that I don’t have right now?
  • What will be different about my daily life when I have it?
  • How will having what I want affect the relationships that matter to me?
  • What superpowers of mine will be useful in getting what I want?
  • Who will support me when I need a boost of confidence?
  • Who will benefit when I succeed in getting what I want?
  • What do I have right now that I want to keep?

Like the other writing prompts, this exercise works just as well on a blank sheet of paper or in a journal as it does in the printed workbook. Do what works for you.

Tomorrow we’ll look at the five-year horizon line. That exercise, like this one, will take 15-30 minutes. See you then.