2 to 3: Reflection

The sun setting on another 108 days

I don’t have a solid audience in mind as I type up this reflection. I’ll keep an audience of two in mind. One is me gettings the thoughts out of my head and the other is my mother because I know she’ll read this. 🙂

I made a page called “My 108s” where I started writing brief summaries of all of the 108-day cycles I’ve done so far. Number 2 will be the first cycle that gets written up during a break period (I wrote all of them in the middle of Cyle 2). I feel like I should do a little bit of explaining…

Yearly Reviews

I’ve been experimenting with goal setting and habit development since 2008. I have a folder for every year from 2008 until now where I’ve continually refined goals, dreams, etc. Every year I’d take a look at different “vision statement” style documents and update them with my latest thoughts, feelings and aspirations. That changed in 2017.

Quarterly Reviews

In 2017 I ran into “Antifragile Planning: Optimizing for Optionality (Without Chasing Shiny Objects)”. Taylor Pearson gives a very detailed breakdown of the system he uses for planning and setting short and long-term goals. The largest idea I took away from it was doing quarterly planning instead of yearly planning so I gave it a spin. 90-days was FAR superior to a year in many ways, but one thing I didn’t like was the lack of a “buffer” period between quarters. I like to casually do a reflection over the course of a week or more vs trying to get it all done in a weekend. The desire for more time to reflect + wanting to make it “my own” + my favorite number created…

108-Day Cycles

This is my new jam. It’s pretty simple. A new cycle begins three times a year. On January 1st, May 1st, and September 1st. A cycle lasts 108 days so it finishes in the middle of the month (this last cycle finished on August 16th). That gives me a couple weeks to reflect and plan before you start the next cycle.

Pretty simple right?

Squeezing Three Years in One

The beautiful thing about this process is that I get to do the “New Year’s Resolution” thing three times a year instead of once. I also get to learn from my failures three times faster! I have had many fails over the course of experimenting with this new system. While I’m officially labeling the next cycle as Number 3, it will be the 7th iteration. The failures essentially fall into two categories:

  1. Poorly defining the parameters of the 108 days
  2. Failing to “course correct” if the initially plan was poor or is no longer necessary
  3. Course correcting and poorly defining the new parameters (this is really #1 again)

OK… On to My Reflection!

My last cycle (Cycle 2) was interesting because Cycle 1 was somewhat of a failure and I wasn’t sure if I was going to keep the experiment going any further. I had totally stopped tracking my days during Cycle 1 and fell into a state of extreme anxiety and depression for a period of time. The fog of anxiety began to lift (during Cycle 1) and I decided to see which day it was and it happened to be day 108. That put a smile on my face and I started to think about what I might do for the next cycle.

I never really… *Extremely long pause as I flipped through my journal*

What I was saying was… I never did any planning for this past 108. When I pulled out my journal I discovered that the smile on my face from seeing day 108 was converted into action in the form of a journal entry. The contents of this entry need a separate post but the focus was on “bullshit” (inside and outside of myself). To comment on that quickly, last year was plagued with a manic episode which consisted of a LOT of BS which led to me… getting anxious and depressed while I avoided reflecting on it. I still have reflecting to do! But at least now I don’t have any of the depression and anxiety. The lack of depression and anxiety is, I believe, largely due to the focus on my last cycle which I evenly labeled “An Anchor Routine”.

What I ended up deciding to do, on April 30th with absolutely no planning, was walk at least one mile a day, every day, for 108 days (but preferably run through the mountains). That was it. The idea was that I could use that single daily habit and build off of it during the 108 days or during the next cycle.

That ended up working on as planned. I walked for at least a mile every day (but mostly ran) and I eventually added meditation and studying Chinese to the daily mix at different periods of time. The basic thought behind having an “anchor routine” was having something that I did every day which would act as preventative medicine to anxiety and depression (science seems to back up that thought). Exercise always seems to do the trick so I thought I’d make it a constant.

My Next Cycle

I ended up reading Thomas Clearly’s translation of “The Secret of the Golden Flower” during the last cycle. That planted the idea in my head to meditate for 1+ hour every morning for 108 days and I haven’t been able to shake that idea ever since. It appears that I’ve been waiting to get this reflection out of my system before “defining the parameters” of my next 108 days, but I have a pretty clear idea of what it will look like.

I’d like to keep up with the minimum 1 mile of walking a day. I was thinking about increasing it, but have decided against it since I’m going to be adding the meditation AND Chinese study. The only other thing I’m thinking about adding (right now) is daily journaling (pen and paper style). I also have a handful of taichi related goals I might sprinkle in as well… when I sat down to write this I thought I might have had the reflection and the plan in one post but it’s become clear to me that they need to be separated.

Some closing thoughts…

I think I’d like a “highlights” kind of post which had pictures and videos of things that happened over the course of the 108 days. Maybe I’ll try to whip something up over the course of the next cycle. Whether I do or whether I don’t, what I will do for the next cycle is set aside some pictures, videos, and thoughts that I’d like to include in the highlights post.

I’m really pleased with how this thing is evolving! I’m excited to see what the plan for the next 108 is going to look like! I won’t know until I write it… lol

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