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#27 - 7 Habits of Highly Effective Creators: Enjoy the process
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Top creators earn significantly more than average creators. What sets them apart from the rest?
These key habits help top creators succeed in a highly competitive field.
This is part 7 — Enjoy the process.
Enjoy the process
Even the best creators have a fear of hitting of publish on their content. No one is immune to the anxiety of not knowing whether people will appreciate the work that they’ve put a ton of effort and time into.
Despite that, successful creators go through their process and release their work regularly. They shift their focus from the outputs they can’t control (likes, views, follows) to the inputs they can control (creating regularly, noting ideas down every day, engaging with posts from other creators each week).
To link this back to habit #1 (consistent production), creators need to stick to their process for a long time to see their efforts yield compounding results.
This process can be mundane, but creators use a few neat tricks to make the process tolerable, even enjoyable.
Find flow through excited accountability
Flow is a magical state we’ve all experienced at some point in our lives. It’s the perfect balance of challenging and fun that makes for an engrossing experience we can singularly focus on and enjoy.
So how do creators consistently get themselves into a state of flow?
The answer is excited accountability.
First, you have to be intrinsically interested in the skill you are about to build, or the thing you set out to do. That gives you excitement.
Second, you need adequate external pressure such that not following through would cause embarrassment you really want to avoid. That gives you accountability.
You've probably seen this in practice. Creators declare their intentions to do something new, and outside of their comfort zone. This forces a sense of accountability onto themselves, because they don’t want to go back on their word, which would jeopardize trust from their audience.
“My motivation was back. My tank was full. I was going fast. I had accountability. I was excited. And suddenly my ability to persist through this difficult process of learning increased 10 fold.” — Johnny Harris
Carrot and stick system
It feels oddly childish to set rewards and punishments for ourselves, but it’s awesome to leverage positive / negative reinforcement to create habits that benefit us.
This will only work if you are targeting something that you have deep intrinsic motivation to pursue. Otherwise, you will lose interest and quickly drop the whole thing, rather than habituating the behavior you want.
If you decide to set up a rewards / punishment system, here are a few suggestions:
The bar for rewards should be high, and achieving that bar cannot be gamed
The punishment should be consistent, painful (within reason), and swift
The system should be iterated on over time if it becomes less effective
Rewards / punishment should suffice even if they are private, because they are meaningful to you personally
Note: It’s also important to keep in mind that in practice, feedback for continued improvement is much more important than the rewards and punishments themselves.
Keep showing up. Slow and steady wins the race
In investing, fast and steady money does not exist.
In weight loss, the faster you lose weight, the faster you gain it back.
This similar concept applies to creators. Rarely do creator blow up overnight and maintain that level of fame in perpetuity.
The creators who become and remain relevant are those who show up day after day, build foundational skills, and nurture a community of peers and fans steadily. Only eventually will they reap the compound rewards of their continuous effort.
There is only one way to get there, and that’s consistent hard work.
Consistent hard work doesn’t mean operating at maximum intensity all the time. But it does mean showing up even when you don’t feel like it.
“If we wait for the moment when everything, absolutely everything is ready, we shall never begin.” ― Ivan Turgenev
Sooner or later, all of us will be tempted to skip out on our process, to slack off for a day. But a day can easily turn into a week, a month, and so on. Successful people, creators or otherwise, show up consistently whether they feel like it or not.
This applies to all of us. From time to time, we have to be gritty and persistent when our motivations are low. Just remember: No one regrets doing meaningful work.
Acknowledge your progress
Seeing and internalizing progress is more motivating than most extrinsic rewards.
Dan Ariely ran an experiment in 2005 that showed the effect of meaning (proxied by visible progress) on people’s motivation to do work.
The experiment split out the test subjects into two groups who were asked to perform the same task: assemble Lego figurines.
Group one saw their figurines dismantled as soon as they were built. Group two placed each completed figurine on a desk before continuing to the next one.
The results were clear as day: Group two, which saw a visible reminder of their progress and achievement, out-built Group one, 11 to 7.
Despite the fact that the wage and the task are identical across the conditions in each experiment, subjects in the less meaningful conditions [consistently wanted higher wages] than the subjects in the more meaningful conditions.
The result replicates across different types of tasks. Moreover, in the more meaningful conditions, subjects’ productivity influences labor supply more strongly.
Seeing progress boosts performance. Even the illusion of progress (often seen as the buy 10 get 1 free) spurs motivation.
This works on each of us, and it works regardless of how small our progress may feel. Remember, the more advanced you are, the harder it will be to make progress.
A world class sprinter knows the value of 0:001 seconds.
A NFL running back knows the value of 0.2 yards.
A professional fighter knows the value of 0.5 lbs.
Sometimes the progress is nearly invisible, other times it’s night and day — MrBeast was a totally different creator 5 years ago. And you can bet he’s celebrating the incredible progress he has made since then.
To recap — whether it’s the world’s most successful creators, or one of us, building a process we enjoy is an important part of succeeding sustainably.
We can make our process more enjoyable by:
Finding flow through excited accountability
Creating systems that reinforce behaviors with carrots and sticks
Continuing to show up over long periods of time, even when we don’t feel like it
Acknowledging our progress, however big or small they are
That wraps it up for this series on the 7 habits of successful creators! Hope you took away something valuable and applicable :)
If you have questions and thoughts, leave a comment below, or Tweet at me.
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