How To Create A Habit

CreatingAPhotographyHabit

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.

Why bother?

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.

CY365 Creating A Habit

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

Things change.

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.

CY365 Creating A Habit Change

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.

And here. And here.

 

 

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.

CY365 Creating A Habit-3

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.

Good enough.

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.

Bam. 365.

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:

  1. Do it daily.
  2. Have a purpose.
  3. Find a friend.
  4. Let your photos be imperfect.
  5. 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.)
  6. Start with 30 days or 7 days. Start.
  7. 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.”

What are the habits that serve you best? How are you getting to your 365? I’d love to know.


20 Comments

  1. Elaine Bloomfield

    Thank you for the 365 project. I am finding these last months have been a push to finish. We are almost there. Thank you for the encouragement and inspiration.

  2. Nancy (njtaz)

    Thank you Katrina, the day I stumbled upon CY365 was a life changing day. It’s hard to believe that I already have 200 photos in my gallery. I’m a new photographer and I love the daily prompts. Some days I haven’t a clue what to do but before days end, an idea pops into my head. It’s an eye opening experience and I now see ideas everywhere. This year I’m on automatic (don’t frown) and I’m working on understanding composition. Next year I’ll tackle understanding the settings. I love this site and appreciate all the work that everyone puts in to make it great.

  3. Julie Bush

    Another very inspiring article, Katrina. You voice every thought that we’ve all had at some point or another. Thank you for continuing to encourage and inspire our community. I cannot imagine my life without 365 at this point 🙂

  4. Okay Katrina, that’s it, you have inspired me. I have started and failed so many times at this. But this is it for real this time. I think I just needed to read that even the mighty (Katrina) don’t have the photo mojo every day for a “perfect” picture. The lack of “perfect subject matter” has been my excuse almost every time.
    So my pledge to you today (and perhaps more importantly, to me) is to start today, October 1, my photo 365 project.

    Wish me luck! Kim

  5. Thank you for sharing this. I’ve wanted to start this project since January, but have yet to start and now I know the two things I need to do – Start and Find my purpose. 🙂

  6. Kay Lucien

    “Find a friend” especially resonates with me. You have to have someone who understands to show your photos to, even if you have never met them. I did my first 365 last year with no prompts, thinking it would be too hard to follow a prompt. I was wrong, it’s so much easier to have a picture goal each day, knowing that I don’t have to follow the prompt if it doesn’t resonate with me. But I always do. Love the daily inspiration!

  7. What a great read! I have yet to complete a 365’er but have been pretty good so far this time (Day110)! Your words of encouragement and wisdom Katrina, have me going on line first thing every morning to see where my day is going to take me! Love it and love the community too. Thank you.

  8. Wonderful article Katrina! I can totally relate to every point that you made. Completing my first 365 project last year was the best thing I could do for my photography. I’m so glad I kept going. Having the friendships in the CY365 community really helps.

    I love Gretchen Rubin’s books. Better Than Before is on my list to read next.

  9. Sherri Stone

    Love your message today Katrina! I have had a great year with cy365 by making it work for me. When I worked 10 hour days during the summer I did the best I could. No guilt. Now I use my iPhone more and upload on Facebook and Instagram. Grateful for our wonderful community!

  10. Great post! I did one Capture 365, then let it go for a year, and this year started again. This year the photo has to be taken with my iPhone with the idea that I would finally learn how to use the apps that were cluttering my screen. It’s worked perfectly. I’ve found the editing apps I like and can use efficiently, and few artistic apps that are fun, too. I keep them all on Collect–my way of being accountable this year. I’m printing your list tonight, not for photography, but for sketching. A new habit I want to create; a new skill I want to learn while I continue my photo-a-day. Thanks. Your inspiration is always appreciated; I always look forward to my daily prompt!

  11. I’m very glad I found this website. I saw that you’re leading the Sacramento photowalk and I also saw you talking about this site. I’ve started 365 projects before but have never finished one. I like the idea of starting small and then continuing to extend it. I’m sorry I won’t be in town for the photowalk but I’m glad I found your site!

  12. What a beautifully written post Kattina! I could hear myself saying so many of the same things. And feeling so many of the same feelings as you. Thank you for sharing your heart and all your support the 4 years I’ve been picking up my camera everyday has been instrumental to me.

  13. Martha Schlesselman

    This is a fantastic post, Katrina! Wow, did this ever resonate with me. It is so full of wisdom, encouragement, and a reminder to be gentle with myself in this process. Another “print it out” keeper for me!

    There is so much to take to heart here, even beyond photography. As such, I’m linking this entry on my Facebook page and encouraging my friends to read it. I know my photog friends will love it, but many of my other friends will too as there is so much here that we can all use in our every day, with or without photography. Thanks for another great read. Your encouragement and insight is invaluable!

  14. Love this article. Great reminders. Great inspiration. Love the CY365 community, they are my friends through this journey. Thanks Katrina.

  15. I LOVE this article! It is very encouraging and insightful. I also love the 365 project. Thank you for all you do. Gretchen Rubin is great, isn’t she?

  16. What a great read Katrina. Excellent! The 365 community is such a big part of the daily habit for me and I am also developing a love of taking photos just to take photos. Also the joy my photos have brought to others is cool. I could write a book but I will spare you. Thanks for all you do!

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