I’m mid-way through a 365 project, so am in the process of taking at least one photo a day for a whole year. I hold myself accountable by committing to post the photos on a blog site and at the end of the project I’ll be rewarded with a colourful visual diary of memories – simple moments in my daily life that might otherwise be forgotten.
My habit obsession
This project also gives me a beautiful lesson in how habits are created and how the learning process works. Habits are my obsession – both because my work revolves around helping people create positive habits at work and because I’m always busy testing out habit-creation methods in my own daily life.
Here are four things that I’ve learned from developing a photography habit:
- The power of regularity – Creating a daily habit takes decision fatigue out of the picture. The regularity of my project means that I no longer need to make much conscious effort to get it done, so that carrying my camera everywhere I go has become as natural a habit as brushing my teeth. If I’d have made a new year’s resolution to take photos more regularly, I probably would have put things off until ‘the light was better’ or ‘lockdown ends’.
- Little and often – My skills improve quickly when I practice a little bit every day, much more than when I work furiously but sporadically.
- Perfectionism is the enemy of progress – It’s impossible to produce a brilliant photo every day of the year. I’m learning to embrace the fact that my stumbles are an inevitable part of progress. Sometimes I surprise myself with a beautiful leap forwards, but every day is a baby step towards becoming a better photographer, even when the day’s results are mediocre.
- Celebrating baby steps – Counting off the days feels good. I get a little spike of dopamine to my brain every time I post a photo (even the mediocre ones). This feeling of progress feels so satisfying that it helps to hard-wire my habit into my life.
Reflecting on these lessons, there are many ways in which I can apply this learning to help me and my clients to create and sustain positive habits at work.
Here’s how I apply this learning at work:
- The power of regularity – Creating small habits that become a natural part of the work day such as writing down the top priorities for the day as I sit daily with my morning coffee or taking a walk outside at the end of each work day.
- Little and often – Realising the benefits of ‘chipping away’ at a difficult problem. Stepping away from a challenge when things get stuck and returning the next day with a well-rested brain generally means much more progress is made than remaining steadfastly in my seat, desperately trying to solve things.
- Perfection is the enemy of progress – Embracing a growth mindset. Instead of fearing mistakes, seeing them as a vital components in the learning process. Time to reflect on this is important in any work day.
- Celebrating baby steps – Take some time at the end of each work day to acknowledge wins, baby steps, learning opportunities and moments / people to be grateful for. On a day when it’s hard to find them, I look closer: they are always there!
From now on, I will be bringing my ‘photographer’s mindset’ to my desk and hope to be creating the memory of a year rich in learning and full of colour.
You can find my 365 photo victories and stumbles here on Tumblr.