Undertaking new and challenging projects can be scary. Who’s to say whether they’ll turn out the way we want them to, or that they’ll take us where we want to go? When we’re faced with that fear and uncertainty, it’s easy to find reasons not to get started. To say to ourselves stuff like, I’ll do it just as soon as I’ve finished editing that last batch of photos, or when the weather’s right, or the idea’s more solid.
Waiting until the stars align before taking concrete actions towards improving means you could be waiting for a long time. Here are a few tips to help you commit to working on those projects now and to help you see them through to the end.
Tie Your Rewards to Your Achievements
Eyeing a new, non-essential lens or a cool photography documentary on Netflix? Reward yourself with the goods or the downtime only once you’ve met a certain photography goal.
You can also set up a reward structure within the project you’re working on. Tell yourself that you’re allowed to work on a fun component of the project – maybe that’s the marketing or design work – only once you’ve completed a certain amount of the less fun work. Knowing that there’s always something enjoyable on the horizon makes working on the boring stuff so much easier.
Make Your Plans Public
Tell your close friends and family your goals, and ask them to follow up with you on a regular basis. They’ll provide the supportive peer pressure to keep you on track and encourage you to surpass your weekly (daily, monthly, etc.) objectives. As a bonus, you’ll have an automatic audience for your project. Make sure you choose people who want to see you succeed, and whose constructive criticism you’re open to receiving (and who you’re willing to help out in the future, should they ask for the same support some day!).
Team up with a friend (or group of friends, or an online community) who is striving to meet similar goals or a working on a similar sort of project as you are. Plan to stay in touch on a regular basis so that you can share your results and to make sure you push yourself to get those results. There are tons of cool photographers working on great, collaborative projects, so chances are there’s someone out there interested in doing what you’re doing. You’ve just got to look for them!
Finish What You Started
Starting a new project can be super exciting. Completing it, on the other hand, takes hard work that’ll likely bring duller moments and unexpected challenges. When times get tough and you’re tempted to give up your project and start something new, be honest with yourself about whether your current project is worth completing. If the answer is no, fair enough – apply what you learned to your next project so that it’s more likely to succeed. But if the answer is yes, find ways to see it through to the end. In a few years’ time, when you look back and see a string of completed projects, rather than a bunch of loose ends, you’ll be glad that you stuck with it.
Do you have any tips that help you to undertake scary new projects? Let us know in the comments section!