How To Create A HabitPosted by Katrina Kennedy on Sep 29, 2015 in 365, Blog, Photography | 20 comments
I’ve taken some incredibly boring photos. I’ve taken photos that no one needs to see. I’ve created photos that are blurry, underexposed, overexposed, and have a million technical problems.
I’ve also taken a photo every day since February 2008.
Some days I just take a photo. Of something stupid. Just to take the photo. Just to keep the streak going. In fact, most of 2014 was just to keep going. Because sometimes all we can do is keep going.
And I don’t care that many of them aren’t worth sharing in a public place. Many of them could safely be deleted. If I was a deleter.
In taking a photo a day for more than 2,555 days I’ve learned a little something about creating a habit.
Habit Creation Discovery No. 01
You’ve got to do the work.
And when we do that work, we create a body of work, but more importantly we create a routine. Photography creates a little blip on our daily radar.
In her book Better Than Before: Mastering The Habits of Our Everyday Life, Gretchen Rubin wrote, “I’ve found that it’s actually easier to do something every day than some days.”
That has been my experience too. If I’m always picking up my camera, I don’t need a reminder of which day I need to pick it up again. If I always pick up my camera, my odds of forgetting to pick it up for a special event are lowered.
So I keep going.
Habit Creation Discovery No. 02
You’ve got to know your why.
So what’s the point?
People who don’t succeed at 365 often don’t know why they started. Maybe their friends encouraged them (that was me), maybe they enjoy taking photos (that’s me), maybe they wanted to improve their photography (that was me), maybe they just wanted to be part of something (ok, me too).
I think I had to dig deeper though.
That question has haunted me more than once. And then I’m reminded about my memories. About the fleetingness of this crazy life. I remember I want to slow it down, stop it, even if only for 1/125th of a second.
At some point my project didn’t give me as much as it used to. It became an engrained habit. Something I do like brushing my teeth. I don’t think about brushing my teeth much, but I certainly do it daily.
And perhaps my photos reflect my lack of thinking about it. But this is a long term project. The collection matters more than any one of my photos. It’s the entire picture of my life that I’m creating. It’s the documentation of the memories. It’s the record of things I won’t remember.
Habit Creation Discovery No. 03
So all that stuff about purpose behind your 365 driving your habit? It changes.
Things change. You start out hoping to improve your photography and you get something else. You begin hoping to document your child’s life and something else happens. And then something else will happen. The kid grows up and won’t cooperate. The things that moved you on day one, don’t on day 345.
You can let change change your 365 or you can let it stop you.
It’s up to you. But, things will change.
They always do.
Habit Creation Discovery No. 04
You need a friend (or two or twenty).
Yes, you do. So do I. You need someone who will hold you accountable. You need someone to remind you. You need someone to ask how it is going. That someone may not live in your house. That someone may not live in your state. You may never meet that person, but you still need them. You need someone who gets your habit and the why behind it. Someone who won’t laugh when you photograph your lunch (again) or the contents of your purse or the sign outside the shop. You need someone.
We’re here for you.
Habit Creation Discovery No. 05
Done is good enough.
“The habit of the habit is more important than the habit itself, ” Gretchen Rubin.
You will take bad photos. Some days you just won’t feel it. Maybe the prompt doesn’t resonate with you (trust me, I get that). Maybe you’ve had a long day with the dog barking, kid crying, husband late from work, and laundry piling up. You are TIRED. Take a photo? Who frickin’ cares about a photo OF THIS DAY.
You will. Just not today.
So take something. Anything. It doesn’t matter. Point your phone right at the keyboard or laundry or screaming kid. Focus (if you can) and shoot. Done.
Tomorrow will be another chance to take a photo. You checked the box today. And some days that’s good enough. We are making a habit.
You are allowed some ugly photos.
Habit Creation Discovery No. 06
Make it small to make it big.
365 days is A LOT. Start smaller. Set your goal at seven days. When you are successful, add seven more days. Then seven more. Just keeping adding.
I started with a 30 day goal. When day thirty arrived, I loved the process. I’d made it a part of my day (usually first thing in the morning before everything gets crazy). I couldn’t quit. And then I hit 365. And then 730. And then…I didn’t know how to quit. I still don’t. My plan? Just keep on going. One day at a time.
I’m not putting a goal on top of my goal. I’m just practicing my habit.
And that’s what works for me.
And just in case you are saving time by skimming through this post ( I get it, you’ve got photos to take), here are my key take aways:
- Do it daily.
- Have a purpose.
- Find a friend.
- Let your photos be imperfect.
- Check the box…and if you don’t, keep going. (Okay, I didn’t say keep going up there if you miss a day, but I should of, so I’m saying it here.)
- Start with 30 days or 7 days. Start.
- Do what works for you.
Keep in my Gretchen Rubin’s wise words about habits, “There’s no magic formula — not for ourselves, and not for the people around us. We won’t make ourselves more creative and productive by copying other people’s habits, even the habits of geniuses; me must know our own nature, and what habits serve us best.”