Over the years the 104 Project we started with has not really changed much. It works for us and we enjoy it. If at some point in the future that changes, we are totally free and open to making those changes, but this outlines what our 104 Project is, and how it fits into our lifestyle.
As an active duty military family we are moved around quite a bit. Most of the time we are moved to places neither one of us had been before, so it is a totally new frontier. We decided we wanted to experience the areas we lived because we never knew if or when we would come back.
Our first criteria was we had to be together. We couldn’t go off and do something new with friends or family, and not have each other with us and have it count towards OUR 104 Project. That seemed pretty self-explanatory, but we had to make sure that was understood. It was a 104 Project to get us out of the house and making memories together.
Another sort of “rule” would be it needs to be something we haven’t done before in that area. We do not count things like going to the movies, restaurants, etc as an “activity” for our 104 Project. If we have a particular park we visit frequently, we only count the initial visit as an “activity” . That makes us try new places and see new things, since the point for this 104 Project was to get us out to experience the community we lived in and try new things. If we happen to go to the same festival two years in a row, we will only count the first visit as an activity. We have hosted large parties and get togethers at our homes, and we have counted those as an activity. A crawfish boil in California was unique enough and plenty of work, we counted it! Flying 125 pounds of live crawfish from the bayou to central California and then cooking it in our driveway with roughly fifty of our closest friends was DEFINITELY an experience. That is one of our favorite memories for that duty station still to this day.
Yes, we keep track. This is frequently asked of us, do we actually keep track to see if we make it to 104? Yes! Of course we do! How else would be know if we are on track to get our 104? We keep an excel spreadsheet of our activities at each place. The spreadsheet grows with tabs for each duty station we have done this project at, and sometimes we don’t make it to 104. For example, during sea tour times, my spouse was gone about 80% of the time. He physically was not in the state to do anything together, so we did not get a chance to do all 104. We did as much as we could, and we did a lot, but we missed the mark, and that’s completely ok. It wasn’t a failure on our part, it was life. The activities we did manage to squeeze in were a reflection of the time we had available to each other, and the process is about the journey not the destination.
Mutli-day trips usually count as one activity for us, such as doing a 7 day cruise. Other activities are simple such as taking the dogs to a new park we have never seen before also counts as an activity. Each activity is very different in terms of time and costs involved. We figured as far as how we would remember things, we wouldn’t remember each day of a cruise, we would remember the whole cruise and then on that one day we were in Cozumel we did this thing. Some may think that seems a bit odd, why not make each port visit a new activity? And I agree! It could be. But in our 104 Project, we chose to handle it that way. If you want to count activities that way for your 104 Project feel free to do it your way.
Similar activities but in different areas can be a new activity. For example, we enjoy doing races such as 5k’s and half marathons. Each race is a unique experience from the viewpoint of where it may start and finish, what we see on the race course, the bling we earn, the after race experience, and even the group of people we do a race with can change. Now if we do the same race two years in a row (which hasn’t happened yet!), then we can cover that topic when it happens. We have had a few different races in generally the same area, but count each race as its’ own activity. Again, depending on how you want your 104 Project to look and what you want to accomplish from doing it you can choose to count these as different activities or not. The parameters can change as the process continues, but for right now this is how we are handling it. Should we decide to do classes that are over the course of several sessions, I’m pretty sure we would count that series of classes as just one activity. Again, it is our 104 Project and we are free to claim what we want to do.
Lastly, something we have been asked is why do we do this? The answer is simple, it makes us happy. If we ever come to a point this stops being fun, then we can change our minds and not do it. This started because it improved our lives, it increased our happiness, and allowed us to learn new things. We may try another 104 Project in the future, we may decide we don’t want to do a project at all, other things may take a priority or it may take a backseat temporarily. That is something we love about this way of living, and that is really what the 104 Project has been about, living. We make it a priority because we can right now, and hopefully that continues in the future. The 104 Project has allowed us to feel like we are living, it has allowed us to include our friends and family into new activities, and made a way for us to enjoy the various places we have lived for the time we were there.