Accountability: Establish Habits and Beat Procrastination
It’s human nature to fear the unknown. As creatives, we confront this fear on a regular basis. Whether it takes the form of a new project, a blank document, or a white sheet of paper, we come face to face with the unknown every time we sit down to work. Very quickly, 20 other things we need to do might come to mind. Each project goes through stages, and often during the earlier ones, it can be tough to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Because our work feels like a direct reflection of ourselves, the rough stages can be particularly painful, making it hard to take those first steps.
#1: These Are Just Growing Pains
Have you ever seen a snake shed its skin? It isn’t pretty. It’s a long process, and it’s full of struggle, but it’s completely natural. Often our current skill level doesn’t match our taste level or our ambitions. Being confronted by this fact can be painful, but it’s also the first step to growth. Like snakes, we wrestle with our current limitations until we free ourselves and emerge stronger. The hard part to acknowledge is that as soon as this process ends, it begins again, so it’s best just to get used to it. Here are some strategies to help you get the ball rolling.
#2: Seek Inspiration
If nothing is coming to you naturally, step outside of your comfort zone. Take a look at the work of artists you admire, or find some new ones. Sometimes when inspiration strikes, it’s impossible to resist the urge to get started. You never know where you’ll find inspiration, so don’t be afraid to look outside of your discipline.
Set a deadline
Hold yourself accountable. Outline your objective, and break it into smaller tasks. Creating deadlines for each step along the way will keep you on track, and larger tasks feel less intimidating when you have a roadmap. One step at a time.
#3: Build Momentum
After finishing a long, exhausting project, getting started on the next one may be the last thing you want to do. By all means, take a short break and reflect on what you’ve learned, but put that knowledge into practice as soon as possible. Capitalize on your momentum and keep the ball rolling.
#4: Grit Your Teeth
After all, this is what you wanted, right? To be a professional creative. Take comfort in the fact that you’re not alone. Every great creative before you has been in the same spot and had the same feelings. No matter how skilled you become, the fear of the unknown will never go away, so get to know it – and learn to ignore it.
Ultimately, just remember that your work is a reflection of where you are right now, not where you’ll always be. Just keep showing up. Work hard, focus on the process, not the outcome, and keep learning.
Taylor is the Managing Editor of Notes on Design. Taylor is a graphic designer, illustrator, and Design Lead at Weirdsleep.