My 108s

I live my life in 108-day cycles with about 12 days in between each cycle to reset, reflect and plan. How did I land on 108 days (besides really loving the number 108)? I used to do planning and reflecting yearly until I ran into the idea of doing it every 90 days like companies do. I tested 90 days but I ran into two problems. It felt a little too short and it didn’t leave room to plan and reflect (a process that usually takes a week or more). I somewhat randomly ended up doing a 108-day challenge of drawing and journaling every day after testing the 90-day cycles and realized that 108 fits comfortably into 365 by way of 120. 120 gets chopped into ten 12-day chunks and 108 is nine of those chunks with one 12(ish) day chunk to reflect and plan with.

Below is a summary of my experience with each 108-day cycle since I started doing them in 2017. The one highlighted in green is the current cycle. Each cycle, with planning and reflecting is essentially 4 months, January to April, May to August, and September to December. There are many benefits to operating on this timeline, but the greatest one for me is having a “reset” ritual. This has made depression episodes that come after manic episodes much shorter than they have historically been. Before this system, I experienced regular depressive periods longer than a year, almost two years one time. Since using this system my max depressive episode has been two cycles (8 months). I’ve actually run into a new problem where manic episodes have become more frequent since I’m not depressed! I’m currently (Cycle 14) focused on personal habits and systems to avoid mania.

Each cycle is marked with an N for normal, M for manic episodes, D for depressive episodes, or R for recovery. Normal is… normal. Manic episodes usually land me in the hospital (or should have landed me in the hospital). After getting out of the hospital or coming down (both with drugs) I almost immediately fall into a depressive cycle. Recover is the bridge between depressed and normal. I usually start off depressed and then get myself hyped up for the start of a new cycle.

N = Normal (24%) | M = Manic Episode (30%) | D = Depressive Episode (24%) | R = Recovery (24%)

CyclesA NB NC MD M
Cycles1 D2 R3 N4 N5 M6 D7 D8 R9 M
Cycles10 R11 M12 D13 R1415161718

Cycle A | N – Flow to Your Dream (August 27th, 2017 to December 12th, 2017)

This was the title of the very first blog post in the series. Like I said above, my aim was to share a journal entry and drawing every day and that’s exactly what I did. I was in “startup” mode at the time so I was constantly thinking or reading about startups. That actually influenced the 108-day idea a lot. Especially the idea of making goal planning and execution iterative over a period of time shorter than a year (like I had previously done). On the last day of the 108 days (Day 108), I applied for a startup accelerator (not knowing the difference between an accelerator and an incubator) using the idea I have for a service to help people manage bipolar disorder.

Cycle B | N – My ONE Thing (January 1st, 2018 to April 19th, 2018)

I had recently read the book “The ONE Thing” and I tried to apply it to working on “Being Bipolar” (the name I had given to my company). Things started out great, but they fell apart pretty quickly. The failure was a win because it really reinforced the importance of process (flow). You can read about it in more detail on day 108.

Cycle C | M – 108 Days of Flow (May 1st, 2018 to August 18th, 2018)

With this 108 I ditched goals and focused on the process. I ended up tracking my mood, sleep, and exercise for the 108 days but where I think I messed up was by not having… an anchoring/grounding routine. Things ramped up over the course of this 108 days into a full blown manic episode. I was definitely flowing every day but I was “flow’er” without a cause! A quote I recently read comes to mind…

“If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favorable.” – Lucius Annaeus Seneca

That said, I eventually decided on a port. Attending a show in Milwaukee where RZA (from Wu-Tang Clan) live DJed the “36th Chamber of Shaolin”. What I ultimately ended up doing was immersing myself in a spiritual alternate universe created by mania fueled miltownkid which bled into the next 108. I look forward to doing a more detailed analysis of this 108 one day.

Cycle D | M – 108 Days of Being Bipolar (September 1st, 2018 to December 18th, 2018)

Still high on my own supply of spirit, I decided to create a new persona, the realBipolarCEO. I was supposed to participate in an idea stage startup incubator/accelerator program called Founder Institute, but it was canceled due to the low number of applicants. What was originally supposed to be “108 days of Being Bipolar (inc)” turned into “108 days of (actually) being bipolar”! There was an internal battle over “the meat suit” (me!) between “Casey Abbott Payne” and “miltownkid ZEE”. realBipolarCEO was acting as a bridge between, and an attempt to merge, those two forces. This internal struggle crescendoed with a stay in a mental hospital.

I was out of the hospital in time to write a detailed reflection using Instagram images (linked to above).

Cycle 1 | D – 108 Days of Being Bipolar (.org) (December 31st, 2018 to April 18th, 2019)

During my reflection on April 19th, 2018 I made a simple, but powerful, observation. Syntax matters! The language I use to describe a goal or action to myself is extremely important. That clearly didn’t sink in for the next 108 because I sloppily wrote “108 Days of Being Bipolar” instead of something more specific like “108 Days of Working on Being Bipolar Inc” so it turned into 108 days of being bipolar (crazy!) That said, I was manic at the time and the spiritual side of me may have left that open to interpretation on purpose.

Anyhow, this time I decided to be extremely specific. 108 days of working on my website focused on being bipolar ( That gave me supreme clarity and it worked! I spent time every day researching or writing about bipolar disorder. This eventually led me to do a deep dive into understanding suicide. I never ended up publishing that, or any, article because on January 16th, 2019 (YouTube) I decided to pivot away from the website and towards looking for stable work. I really want to create a business that helps people with bipolar and other mental health issues but I decided that I needed to do it from a place of personal stability. I couldn’t yet afford to dedicate large chunks of energy and time to writing and research that I wouldn’t immediately get paid for.

Something else you’ll notice is that I shifted from using letters to numbers on this cycle. That’s because I saw this cycle as the official launch. The first four were beta, now I saw it as a “release” version (for myself 😉 ). It also coincided with the year 108 according to Taiwan’s calendar (or 民國紀年). I created a post with some of my thoughts on time (at that time).

I think I made the mistake, again, of not having an “anchoring routine” after I switched from researching/writing. While I ended up finding work I also ended up spiraling into a state of anxiety and depression. On April 18th (day 108) I happened to ask myself “What day is it?” (I had totally stopped tracking the days). I wasn’t sure if I’d start tracking again on May 1st BUT (spoiler alert)…

Cycle 2 | R – An Anchor Routine (May 1st, 2019 to August 16th, 2019)

…when May 1st came I decided to start running every day and I eventually added journaling, meditating, and recording a video. I’ve also added working on “Flow to Your Dream”. Having the 108 pull me out of anxiety and depression reaffirmed how powerful the ritual was. I decided to double down on it and do it for 108 cycles (36 years).

Monday, June 3rd, 2019

I wrote the recap of each 108 today which is probably why the most recent recap is the most robust. Moving forward I will add a recap sometime between the “rest” period, the period of time between a cycle ending and beginning.

Cycle 3 | N | Sep to Dec, 2019 – The Secret of the Golden Flower (Plan (Google Doc), Wrap-up)

I started this 108 inspired by “The Secret of the Golden Flower”, a manual for meditation. One of the suggestions in this text is to meditate for 1 to 2 hours a day for 100 days straight. I ended up meditating for one hour and eight minutes (1:08) 59 days in a row. What ended up stopping me was experiencing what I can only describe as “void”. I started feeling disconnected to everything. I decided I would revisit the exercise at a later date. Since the text talked about Zen a lot I decided to study Zen more intently as I hadn’t spent much time with Zen in the past.

I also started out wanting to memorize the 3,000 most frequently used characters but dropped that midway as I was starting to experience diminishing returns on “brute force” character acquisition.

Since I drifted so far away from the original plan when November showed up I decided to participate in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) with a friend. That plan died when I got hit with a bad case of the flu. The goal is 50,000 words in the month of November and I hit 20,000. Death Stranding was also released that November and the hardcore gamer in me showed up to dump 100+ hours into the game over the course of two weeks.

This was the first cycle I did with other people. They joined organically.

Cycle 4 | N | Jan to Apr, 2020 (Plan, Reflection)

I decided to stop giving the cycles titles this cycle because this felt “restrictive”. I also went back to making the focus of the cycle (two cycles had passed since working on it) and thought it would be the focus for several cycles into the future. Instead I ended up dropping BeingBipolar for good so that I could focus on Flow to Your Dream and the 108-day challenges. I was going to create a content schedule for BeingBipolar but this got dropped as well.

I wanted to get really focused on my morning routine and I ended up totally crushing it. I did my routine flawlessly every day and I ran to the top of the nearby mountain every single day. Since I dropped focusing on BeingBipolar, that also made me stop focusing on Chinese study because I tied Chinese study to the idea of getting a degree in Chinese.

I created two principles “Do things right away” and “Put things away right away” and I flawlessly executed those. This was the cycle that I did John METACREATOR’s boot camp focused on community building.

Cycle 5 | M | May to Aug, 2020 (Plan, Reflection)

At the start of this cycle I wanted to focus on creating the Flow to Your Dream documents (Story, Dream, and Flow). I also wanted to spend some time deeply reflecting on who I was. I didn’t post my plan until day 24 and on day 25 George Floyd was murdered. The month before that I found out my good friend Pitt had passed away and the year before that my good friend Gary also passed. I learned about complex PTSD the hard way through a hurricane of emotions and events. I experienced levels of anger I didn’t know I had inside of me. This cycle was the beginning of really digging into the depths of my psyche with the goal of deeply understanding myself.

Cycle 6 | D | Sep to Dec, 2020 (Plan, Reflection)

I started depressed and eventually fell into an anhedonic state this cycle. I wasn’t clear about my running routine because I learned that running can turn hypomania into a full blown manic episode for me. Instead of running every day I switched it to running “most days”. Most days turned into no days. Halfway through the cycle I got a job as an OBC (onboard courier). I basically flew to the US with some car parts and got paid. When I returned I had to do a 14-day quarantine. I thought I was going to be super productive but I ended up watching CNN coverage of the election instead. This cycle I realized how important the 108-day cycles are to me because they shorten the amount of time it takes to recover from manic episodes.

Cycle 7 | D | Jan to Apr, 2021 (Plan, Reflection)

I injured myself right at the start of this cycle. I was planning on running every day but that had to stop. Running was my keystone habit so the other habits I had also fell apart. My “old man” injury depressed me and then I was further depressed thinking about the craziness of Cycle 5. I eventually turned into a couch potato that just played video games all day and avoided life.

Cycle 8 | R | May to Aug, 2021 – Dream+Flow: Don’t Be Crazy, Story: I Wasn’t Crazy

Cycle 8 was a recovery cycle so I didn’t spend a lot of time planning before it started. I was basically in depressed mode and was able to convert the energy from the ritual of starting a new cycle into a plan of action. I pretty much made up a bunch of routines right before day one and dove in head first. My experience with “lifeflow” allowed me to flawlessly execute my plan for 39 days straight (check-ins on Instagram). What broke the streak was getting a courier job, flying to the US, and needing to do 14 days of quarantine in Taiwan. I made quarantine super productive and wrote a first draft of a book on Flowism. When I got out of quarantine I was told by a doctor that I could exercise the way I was and needed to let my hip heal. I stopped doing the Instagram check-ins after that. Right after that I got my podcasting equipment and was absorbed in figuring that all out. Then we had to move. It’s worth noting that I fully retired miltownkid ZEE this 108.

Cycle 9 | M | Sep to Dec, 2021 – Dream+Flow: So It Begins, Story: I Got Crazy Spiritual

The goal of this cycle was for it to be the beginning of every cycle moving forward really building off of the last cycle. If you look at previous cycles they jump around in focus. The focus moving forward is the Way of the 108 system along with the philosophy that powers it, Flowism. Things got off to a great start! I was working on the system every day and I was doing all of my habits and routines. Things were going perfectly. Then the 26th of September came… That was the day I flew to the US for a courier job. From that day forward mania and spirituality kicked in. I did a tour of the US in manic/spirit mode (Milwaukee, New York, DC, and LA). Then I stayed in that mode when I got back to Taiwan. In Taiwan I rollercoastered between manic/spirit highs and depressive lows. I was on a high during the 108 break (the time when I do all of my reflection) so I never did the reflection (Story) of Cycle 9 or the planning (Dream) of Cycle 10. Even though things turned into a mess in terms of what I wanted to accomplish during Cycle 9, it still feels like I got the start that I wanted, it just wasn’t the start that I expected. Something really important to point out is that even though I was experiencing mania, there weren’t really any serious moments where I would have needed to go to the hospital. That in and of itself is something worth celebrating.

Cycle 10 | R | Dream+Flow: Just Casey, Story: In Progress

v1 | v2 | v3 (Current)

Notes about this version:

The recaps from Cycle A to (half of) Cycle 2 were written on 2.34 (Monday, June 3rd, 2019). Cycle 1’s recap was the most robust of them because it was written shortly after the cycle was completed.

The recaps from Cycle 3 to Cycle 8 were written on 9.-8 (Tuesday, August 24th, 2021). I’ve always wanted to take time off in between 108s so I could reflect deeply. This is the first time I’ve done this. This latest version of “My 108s” is a combination of the original and version 2. When I started doing full blog posts dedicated to reflection and planning I stopped doing recaps. During Cycle 8 I wanted to quickly review past cycles and realized that the short recaps are better than needing to read full posts to get a quick overview. Moving forward a short recap of the cycle will be included when the cycle is completed.