100 Days of Action: Defining a Meaningful Step

Monday, January 14th, 2013

When I challenged myself to take action every day for 100 consecutive days, my goal was to create a habit of walking the walk. I said I was going to take action. It didn’t occur to me to define what would count as an action.

Then, Kirsten asked me if that meant I was going to be working on my eBook every day.

I squirmed.

I didn’t want to take on more than I could actually accomplish, and I know that it’s a struggle for me to work on the same project every single day. I also know that I’m overwhelmed by the scope of that particular project, and so I tend to avoid it. And I know that’s why I created this accountability campaign in the first place.

I know.

But I also know that my house is filled with unfinished projects. I know that creating a sense of home is important to me, and that means following through on my ideas for my family, our home, and our community. That means pulling my weight on the PTO committee, using my craft area to teach my daughter to sew, and finally hanging a few pictures on the wall (just as soon as I print those pictures.)

Those personal goals are just as important as professional ones.

I am, however, a master procrastinator. I have perfected the art of getting stuff done without making progress. I can cross off a dozen items on a to-do list and still not have moved forward in any meaningful way. I loathe busy work, but I’m very good at it when it’s a means of avoiding the hard stuff.

I didn’t want 100 days of busywork. I wanted 100 days of pushing myself to do the things I avoid, the things that come after the big idea. I want to take 100 steps towards my goals, my mission, my ideal version of myself.

That’s what a meaningful action is to me. It’s something that moves me closer as opposed to something that helps me maintain. While maintenance is a necessary and potentially beautiful part of life, it’s not the purpose of this personal challenge. The goal is forward motion.

And, yes, forward motion means working on that eBook. And keeping my promises to my kids and making changes in my home and strengthening roots in our new city.

I feel a bit like I’m fighting inertia right now, but I’m determined to keep moving forward.

One step at a time.

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  1. Megan says:

    So how do you force yourself to do that meaningful action when your inclination is to procrastinate?

    I find it fairly simple to get something done for someone else, but it’s sometimes difficult for me to finish projects for myself – mostly in the writing arena. As much as I want to write short stories and get this novel going, it is so easy to allow it to fall by the wayside because I’m spent from doing everything else I have to do.
    Megan’s most recent post: Now, Such As It Is

    • Miss Britt says:

      Well, that’s partly why I did this 100 Days of Action, because I know if I have to report something every day, I’m more likely to do it. Also, I am better at sprints – like doing something every day for 100 days – then marathons (thinking about having to do it FOREVER.)

      The thing is, I can’t work on most of my other professional goals until I get this one done. I haven’t given myself a deadline yet, because I don’t have a valid reason for creating one (it would just be a motivational tool, which is easy for me to blow off), so I’m focusing on the process. Not sure if that helps or not. :-)

      • Megan says:

        Deadline doesn’t do much for me either because I keep pushing it back! But yeah, process. I’m working on creating a habit of working on my own stuff for at least an hour a day. Once I get this damn shoulder straightened out I’ll be able to do more at home (I sneak in an hour at work because I have down time).

        I guess that’s the key. Habit. I’m damn good at adopting others, but this one is vexing me.
        Megan’s most recent post: Now, Such As It Is

        • Miss Britt says:

          Have you thought about dictating it and sending it off to a transcriber? I have a link somewhere to a really reasonably priced service. I use the free Dragon Dictation app on my iPhone and then email it to myself.

  2. Lisa says:

    That creating the home that I want and feels like a haven to me is what I’ve been working on, in an all-out blitzkrieg fashion. I knew if I took it slow and told myself I’d add pieces here and there over time that it wouldn’t actually get done and I’d always feel like I was living in someone else’s house. I still have a ways to go, but it’s feeling like my home now; a place that I love to be. I’ve waited for that for so long, so it’s a hugely meaningful step for me.
    Lisa’s most recent post: So I Went to Pittsburgh

  3. I love this. I wish more people were inspired to be better every day.
    BlondeBrainstorm’s most recent post: Get Happy!

  4. I love this! I wish more people could be inspired to do better for themselves every day. Negative people drive me insane. I was negative daily for a long time and in return it made me feel bad about myself and my life in general. : ) Thanks for this
    BlondeBrainstorm’s most recent post: Get Happy!

  5. “I am, however, a master procrastinator. I have perfected the art of getting stuff done without making progress. I can cross off a dozen items on a to-do list and still not have moved forward in any meaningful way. I loathe busy work, but I’m very good at it when it’s a means of avoiding the hard stuff.”
    You’ve summed it up for most of us there, I guess. We all love to cross stuff off our to-do lists ’cause we love the “That’s done” feeling, however we’re also afraid of getting cracking on the real stuff, like you’ve said, so we get everything done without getting anything done.
    Perfectly put!
    Sulagna – Keep your relationship exciting’s most recent post: “When Should I Get Married?” 10 Questions I Wish I Had Asked Myself Before Getting Married – Part 1

  6. pocket_queen says:

    “I feel a bit like I’m fighting inertia right now”… That’s actually great, if you say that you are “a master procrastinator”. I guess you should expect to feel like you’re fighting inertia, right? After all, that’s the first step before starting to move. Good luck!
    Your active challenging of yourself -and your inertia- is very inspiring for all of us procrastinators =)

  7. I can’t say that I have one big goal that I’m working toward right now, but life in general has been super busy since my kids started school last fall. This week’s calendar (and every week really) seem like an endless circle of ‘Go here, do this, do that, get behind on that because you have this other thing to do…’ etc. Vicious cycle that leaves me totally overwhelmed.

    Recently, I’ve been taking a deep breath and thinking to myself “What can I accomplish RIGHT NOW?” That seems to calm me down a little and bring in to focus what I can get done quickly to move on to the next item on my never ending to do list.
    Lindsey Zimmerman’s most recent post: Paradigm Shift

  8. I started a weekly “get happy” challenge on my blog for the whole year. Im kind of wondering what I got myself into, but at the same time, I’m like you, I better put my money where my mouth is and start taking action on what Im always preaching!!
    Isra {TheFrugalette}’s most recent post: How to be Happy for FREE- 52 Ways

  9. I am so stealing this idea! I’m trying to get into the habit of writing 1,000 words of fiction every day. I’m also trying to finish three writing projects, all of which I keep getting tempted to leave on the backburner. Like you, I’m a pro at not finishing and procrastinating. I don’t want to be that person anymore.

    Let’s do this!
    Elizabeth Barone’s most recent post: SADE ON THE WALL Ebook on Sale for $2.99

  10. Fabulous!
    Carrie Monroe O’Keefe’s most recent post: Word. On. The. Street.

  11. Amber says:

    One step at a time, for sure.

    Also, I like that you’re focusing on many different areas of your life. Focusing on only one wouldn’t really be balanced or sustainable. I think this is a better approach.
    Amber’s most recent post: Podcast: Talking Blogging with Annie of PhD in Parenting

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