It’s no secret we live in a consumption driven culture. Millennials spend 18 hours a day consuming media (much of this is done while multi-tasking so the number of actual daily hours is lower) and the other generations are not far behind.
Yet, much of the content millennials consume, is actually created by their peers. From instagram posts, to tweets, to text messages, videos, and what’s app conversations…the content is usually short and fleeting.
It’s no wonder so many students say they are bored in school, when they are often told to consume instead of create.
I don’t think this is limited to students and their boredom. I personally can get into a rut when I find myself consistently consuming. Whether it is reading, social media, or binge-watching Netflix…these activities are great to unwind and relax, but can cause a creative downward spiral when you spend too much time consuming.
This is where habits become increasingly important. Without daily habits we can easily get stuck into creative ruts and spend all of our time consuming (usually without even thinking about it).
Stacking Habits Instead of Resolutions
Two years ago I took an idea from Nathan Barry, and ran with it. I started to write 1000 words every day. I had goals and dreams and things I wanted to accomplish. I wanted to start a blog that people would read and also get a lot of value from. I wanted to write a book. The habit of writing 1000 words each day made things goals attainable and I didn’t spend all my time worrying about what I could accomplish…but instead on when I would finish. That year I grew this blog, wrote a lot of guest posts, and wrote my first book Inquiry and Innovation in the Classroom. It was not that difficult when you stacked the 1000 words on top of each other every day. I wrote almost 400,000 words that year.
Last year I continued the daily writing habit and also began to read 25 pages a day after hearing about this strategy from James Clear. Most of the books I read were close to 250 pages long. I averaged reading 1 book every 10 days with this habit. And of course, sometimes you can’t put a book down and the 25 pages turns into 40! This past year I’ve read 42 books with that daily habit.
Now a new year has rolled around again, and I want to create more. The problem I’ve been having is writing and creating…and not finishing. It seems like the first 50% of a project is fun and goes fast…the second 40% of a project is a grind but the end is in sight…and the final 10% of any creative project is almost impossible for me to finish and ship.
What is with that final 10% that makes it so hard to finish?
The Creative Struggle is Real
Part of me believes the issue is not having enough practice finishing. Sure, I tend to finish and post two blogs a week. I’ve finished big projects like books, and websites, and courses… Yet, for every creative project I finish, there are 10 more lying around half-way done and sitting in purgatory.
This leads me to the habit I want to begin this year: Creating (and finishing) something every day.
To be clear, this won’t always be a piece of writing. It won’t always be work related. It could be a project at my house, or something I’m creating with my kids. And it will definitely not always be education related. The key is to focus on finishing each and every day in small projects so that finishing becomes a habit and act that I consistently do on a daily basis.
I have new goals for 2015, but I don’t think those goals are nearly as important as this daily habit. In fact, they are connected in many ways. I won’t be able to reach my goals unless this act of creating and finishing becomes a habit.
Creating is something that makes me feel alive. Yet, without finishing…you can’t help anyone with what you’ve created.
I want to challenge you to do less consuming this year and more creating.
Happy New Year, and I’d love to hear what habit you are planning on starting for 2015 (instead of a resolution or goal)!