The difference between planning and starting

Tbh, in the past two years, I have spent more than a couple thousand Ringgit to upskill myself in photography and social media skills. I have bought and watched so many courses, spent money on equipment and set up several mood boards + social media plans.

And yet, despite all of this, one look at my Instagram feed alone would imply that I am not an active Instagram user. I rarely post pictures and in fact, since learning these new skills, I post even fewer pictures on social media!

Perhaps you are like me too, someone is who potentially great at kickstarting something and planning towards a goal, yet struggle to actually follow through and put it into action.

Focus on taking action, don’t just be in motion.

James Clear, in Atomic Habits

The taste/skill gap

I see this most clearly as a recurring issue within the artist/creative circle too. New artists often find themselves feeling frustrated in the beginning when developing their personal art style. I am no different in my recent foray into digital art.

Which is why I found it super helpful when I read a tweet that explained the frustration. I am paraphrasing here, but basically it stated that when we are starting, we can easily find a great deal of inspiration and reference around us, thus improving our taste level. However, our taste levels often peak faster than our actual skills, thus creating a gap between our actual skills and our perceived notion of excellence.

Research/planning/learning (ie. being in motion) are necessary, but on their own do not produce results. James explained further in his book Atomic Habits that people often get stuck in motion because it gives the impression of making progress but without risking failure just yet.

“You don’t want to merely be planning. You want to be practicing. If you want to master a habit, the key is to start with repetition, not perfection. You don’t need to map out every feature of a new habit. You just need to practice it.”

When I first read this, I honestly felt called out! I am so gungho in researching and learning but always fall short of following through because I am so focused on trying to recreate the best (even though I am still at a beginner level). I am trying so hard to keep up appearances that I end up limiting my chances to practice and hone my actual skills.

Best is the enemy of good

After this realization, I decided to give myself a break and assured myself that I just have to take action, ie DO, even if it sucks, because being sucky is the first step to being good in something, after all.

To progress further in my digital art, I repurposed the time I would have used scrolling through Pinterest for references, into my new ‘Just Doodle’ time – where I just doodle something everyday and post on my InstaStory. Doesn’t matter how it looks like, the idea is to just create!

I also decided to finally put my photography knowledge into practice and whipped out the camera for an immediate photo shoot the next day. I had to tell myself that I do not have to go to the most aesthetic places nor have the most beautiful props in order to practice these skills and publish the results.

I have altered my idea of success from ‘to be the best’ to ‘just show up first and start doing’.

Have you had similar struggles too? If yes, I would suggest rethinking what has been stopping you from just practicing your craft. All the best, and have a lovely weekend kawan-kawan!


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