Where to Start?
That’s a question we often ask ourselves when we start working on any big project, especially when you get that feeling that you might have bitten off more than you can chew. It’s easy to lose track of the end goal and even easier to get discouraged, but I’ve learnt first-hand that it’s really just a problem of perspective, confidence and willingness to tackle one problem at a time.
Over my lifetime, I’ve always given myself big challenges and dreams to achieve. During many of those challenges, there were times where I was close to giving up – a music documentary that details my journey as a musician was just such a project.
The good news is that I was ultimately successful, and it’s those lessons, the art of not giving up, that I hope to pass on to you. For the sake of brevity, I’ve broken down those lessons into four easily digestible tips.
- Having Work Experience Helps
It’s worth mentioning that tackling any challenge you aren’t sufficiently prepared for can turn even the simplest task into a herculean one, but I can’t overstate how important confidence in your abilities is.
Real work experience was essential in giving me the confidence I needed to overcome my own challenges. It’s a kind of fortitude (or tenacity) you can only learn by doing. In my case, my professional work as a designer gave me the skill set I needed to tackle my video and, when I was stuck, had equipped me with the knowledge I needed to problem solve.
Confidence is what turns “I don’t know how to do something” into “what do I need to do to get this done.”
- Organise & Consolidate Your Ideas
Your ideas are fleeting, write them down, especially the golden ones. Don’t trick yourself into believing you’ll remember them tomorrow, you won’t, nor will you forgive yourself when you forget them.
Every idea I had for my project, big or small, I wrote down, and in no time at all, I had everything I needed to get started. Sure, my thoughts needed to be sifted through, organised and the best ideas consolidated, but once written down, I freed myself to start thinking about direction and how to best execute my plans.
- Break Down Bigger Tasks Into Smaller Ones
It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the enormity of any single task, that is until you learn to change your perspective. Even the largest, most complex puzzles are really just composed of many “manageable” puzzle pieces. You can overcome anything if you’re willing to tackle it one step at a time.
From my experience, completing even the smallest tasks gives you a real sense of progress, leaves you feeling fulfilled and energised enough to go onto the next task. It’s that momentum you need to continue pushing forward.
- Tomorrow Is Another Day, Give Yourself Time to Digest
Tomorrow is another day. It may be an obvious statement, but it’s one of the easiest things to forget when you obsess over a task, especially with the most demanding tasks.
You know you’ve spent too much time on any single task when you start to make silly mistakes or feel like you’re no longer making any progress, and would rather give up. That’s when you need to step back, take a break from the task at hand and give your mind a breather. You’ll find that it’s often still working on the problem, even when you aren’t, and the solution you’ve been looking for will come to mind when you least expect it.
There’s a lot of information online about breaking down tasks and organising your ideas, so it’s definitely worth doing your research before you give up, starting with the lessons I’ve hopefully imparted upon you.
I alone conceptualised, wrote, organised, cried, recorded, created, sweated, edited and rolled out my documentary. I challenged myself to make an ambitious personal project, simply because I felt empowered to do so and had no motivation besides telling my story as a musician. But, I wouldn’t have managed it without the lessons I learnt above.
I’m glad I didn’t give up. That documentary helped put my foot in the door here at Flume.
So, keep reminding yourself that everything we do big or small has value and means something.
Make life matter.
If you curious about my documentary, click the link below to see all the steps I took to complete this monstrous task.