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The science of making habits stick

BellaPippin

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Hi all, looking for some support as usual... I figured a lot of you have read/heard and looked into how it works to develop/break habits, from a scientific perspective. I've read the "The Power of Habit" and some other texts related to it.

So, I want to paint, right? I want to be a painter. Feels like my whole self wants to paint. I have an urge to paint. But I can't make it a habit. Not sure if because of insecurities, perfectionism, clinical depression messing with my motivation/discipline even though I know I love to paint. Most I've accomplished when I'm not guided by a weekly class is sit down and maybe sketch my hand since I get paralysis by analysis on what is the right thing to draw, take all the tubes out, etc etc. Too much thinking.

I invite you to read this text (first answer) because it might be helpful to you too, and then, from this Forbes Article this part where the structure of a habit is described as follows:

  1. The Cue or Trigger: This is the part of the habit loop where you are triggered to take some sort of action through a cue in your internal or external environment.

  2. The Action: Good or bad, this is the part of the habit loop where you actually take action on the habit you want to adopt or drop.

  3. The Reward: This is the part of the habit loop where your brain receives a reward for taking the desired activity.
I understand the first two but I'm struggling with #3. Can you help me brainstorm of a reward to set for say, making a small piece of art? Because as the Forbes article explains, the habits we want to change release dopamine (the instant gratification). So say, treating myself to a purchase or something sweet won't do that (Ok maybe purchasing more art supplies...but at this point I have everything I need plus I'm trying to save money). I don't watch tv so that won't do. I like videogames but that won't do. It's hard because I deal with MDD so liking something doesn't necessarily mean I'll get that dopamine high that my brain will "get addicted to". Exercise releases dopamine but I don't see it as a reward to "get to go to workout". The paint piece itself won't "be" a reward because I'm a beginner so I more often than not don't like the outcome, I gotta go thru that to get better.

I know this is silly but what are some things that give you that "dopamine high"? I'm brainstorming trying to think of something and I'm at a loss.

~B
 

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Jeff Noel

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For your example, the reward could be positive feedback from people after they watched your painting.
Post a picture of it on Facebook (don't be shy!). Post it in artsy subreddits or maybe even try to put it up on Etsy.

Compliments are enough to get hooked on something.

I'm saying that because having a reward directly linked to the action reinforces the desire to do #1 and #2 again and again, way more than say "My painting is done, I can open a bottle of wine".
 
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BellaPippin

BellaPippin

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For your example, the reward could be positive feedback from people after they watched your painting.
Post a picture of it on Facebook (don't be shy!). Post it in artsy subreddits or maybe even try to put it up on Etsy.

Compliments are enough to get hooked on something.

I'm saying that because having a reward directly linked to the action reinforces the desire to do #1 and #2 again and again, way more than say "My painting is done, I can open a bottle of wine".
Thanks, yes that is the point. I do post them on an Insta I made for that purpose but I don't have much of an audience. Maybe I'll just start posting them to my mom's feed, I'm guaranteed to get compliments! :p

Edit: AH!~ You now made me remember one of the points on a book I read recently too... "Make Gifts" ... I love giving gifts (material, of service..). Maybe the reward is the happiness high I get from giving people a drawing! I've done it before and my aunt framed it and hung it on her kitchen wall. Oh the happiness I felt!

Thank you thank you thank you.
 
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RazorCut

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So, I want to paint, right? I want to be a painter. Feels like my whole self wants to paint. I have an urge to paint. But I can't make it a habit.
I would question this whole premise. It seems you are in love with the idea of being a painter rather than being a painter.

From the artists I know (both amateur and professional) they don’t need to create a habit to paint, they paint because they have to. It is an urge they simply can’t resist. It would appear to be the opposite with you. If you had such an urge you wouldn’t need to look at habit formation and the trigger reward relationships in order to fulfil that need. You would just do it.

I love to read, to learn new things to spend time in nature. I do these on a daily basis because I can’t help myself. On the other hand I would love to be a great guitar player but I haven’t picked up my guitar in months. That to me says that I’m in love with the idea rather than the accomplishment.
 
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SamRussell

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I get where you're coming from, I write music and teach guitar, so I can relate to the creative pain you're feeling - I see it in myself and my students!

Firstly, it's awesome that you're going to classes! That's a massive first step most people never take.

The reward for creation should be the feeling you get when you look at what you have created, and can say with pride "I made that".

You talked about what amounts to perfectionism - and this is a killer for anything creative.

A problem we face is, we can picture what we want to create, but our skills might not be up to creating it - yet. Which means we are forced to put out mediocre work. And is also why I spent 15 years learning guitar before writing a song! (oops).

Here's how you destroy perfectionism:
  1. Continue taking your art classes (awesome!)
  2. Have a dedicated drawing / painting time every day, monday - friday. This time is holy. Everything else in your life is structured around this time. I.e. you paint, then you goto work, not vice versa.
  3. Stick two pieces of A4 to the wall, portrait, one above the other.
on your paper, you make a vertical list like this:
Week 1
Week 2
Week 3
Week 4
Week 5
Week 6
Week 7
Week 8
Week 9
Week 10
Week 11
Week 12
Week 13

Now, every week, you are going to do a new piece of art. A landscape, a portrait, whatever. You work on it during your painting time every day, monday-friday.

At the end of the week, when you have put the allotted hours into your piece, you can cross "Week 1" off from your vertical list - this will become your reward mechanism.

That's the 'mechcanical' bit.

Here's the psycological bit.

You approach this with the expectation that everything you paint will suck for those 13 weeks. You are not aiming to create a masterpiece, you are aiming to complete the process.

You'll find that crossing off "Week 4" feels pretty satisfying.

If you compare you're week 13 piece to your week 1 piece, you'll be astounded by the improvement you made.

After 13 weeks, you evaluate, set yourself a new project to work on, and start again :)

Posting your art as you go to an Instagram account can be a good way to be a bit more accountable and also grow a bit of a fanbase early on - people love seeing artists develop! One of my friends sucks at art, but does this, and is improving and growing a following.
 

Andy Black

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I would question this whole premise. I seems you are in love with the idea of being a painter rather than being a painter.

From the artists I know (both amateur and professional) they don’t need to create a habit to paint, they paint because they have to. It is an urge they simply can’t resist. It would appear to be the opposite with you. If you had such an urge you wouldn’t need to look at habit formation and the trigger reward relationships in order to fulfil that need. You would just do it.

I love to read, to learn new things to spend time in nature. I do these on a daily basis because I can’t help myself. On the other hand I would love to be a great guitar player but I haven’t picked up my guitar in months. That to me says that I’m in love with the idea rather than the accomplishment.
^^^ This. A great line I read about a reason to start a business is because you can’t NOT start it.
 
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BellaPippin

BellaPippin

Enough snacking on mediocrity.
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I would question this whole premise. I seems you are in love with the idea of being a painter rather than being a painter.

From the artists I know (both amateur and professional) they don’t need to create a habit to paint, they paint because they have to. It is an urge they simply can’t resist. It would appear to be the opposite with you. If you had such an urge you wouldn’t need to look at habit formation and the trigger reward relationships in order to fulfil that need. You would just do it.
^^^ This. A great line I read about a reason to start a business is because you can’t NOT start it.
Life isn't a Google Images Quote.

My boyfriend said the same thing. He works out every day, is part of who he is. Kinda like the Quora person describes it feels once something is a habit. It's a habit they have ingrained and it's become part of their identity. They have to force themselves to NOT do it. And that is valid, kudos to him and everyone who feels its "that easy" for them. I'm trying to get there. Not just with painting, but with any project I pretty much set myself to.

But consider this, why does this forum have so many wantpreneurs, why do so many progress threads end nowhere (a lot of mine included)? Why is guru stuff such a thing, life coaches, discipline and accountability forums, books? Why is "Writer's Block", "Stage Fright" a concept, if all you have to do is want something really badly? Are you gonna doom us all by judging us as people who just "don't want it badly enough"? That is not how it works, and that is definitely not how it works for me. It's not how it works for people battling mental health issues who find it hard to take a shower, eat, make their bed. It takes an average of 8 attempts to quit smoking, does that mean they just don't want it bad enough? No, their brain is addicted. Now they have to come up with coping mechanisms to be able to stop. Your argument sounds a bit like gatekeeping and lack of understanding combined.

Now, I understand were you are coming from because I've been there too. When I was 17-20 I would draw and paint pretty much all my free time after college/work. Up until 3am. Painting was all I did. It made me happy, it was air, it made me feel alive. I played volleyball competitively, and going to train wasn't an issue at all. My life has changed quite a bit since then, so have I. Not gonna explain much more because it might come off as excuses, and I don't have to prove anyone anything.

I know some of you guys can't relate to this struggle and that's okay. But I can assure you, wanting things badly enough is definitely not the reason it takes me 4x to (eventually) get where I want to be.
 
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BellaPippin

BellaPippin

Enough snacking on mediocrity.
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I get where you're coming from, I write music and teach guitar, so I can relate to the creative pain you're feeling - I see it in myself and my students!

Firstly, it's awesome that you're going to classes! That's a massive first step most people never take.

The reward for creation should be the feeling you get when you look at what you have created, and can say with pride "I made that".

You talked about what amounts to perfectionism - and this is a killer for anything creative.

A problem we face is, we can picture what we want to create, but our skills might not be up to creating it - yet. Which means we are forced to put out mediocre work. And is also why I spent 15 years learning guitar before writing a song! (oops).

Here's how you destroy perfectionism:
  1. Continue taking your art classes (awesome!)
  2. Have a dedicated drawing / painting time every day, monday - friday. This time is holy. Everything else in your life is structured around this time. I.e. you paint, then you goto work, not vice versa.
  3. Stick two pieces of A4 to the wall, portrait, one above the other.
on your paper, you make a vertical list like this:
Week 1
Week 2
Week 3
Week 4
Week 5
Week 6
Week 7
Week 8
Week 9
Week 10
Week 11
Week 12
Week 13

Now, every week, you are going to do a new piece of art. A landscape, a portrait, whatever. You work on it during your painting time every day, monday-friday.

At the end of the week, when you have put the allotted hours into your piece, you can cross "Week 1" off from your vertical list - this will become your reward mechanism.

That's the 'mechcanical' bit.

Here's the psycological bit.

You approach this with the expectation that everything you paint will suck for those 13 weeks. You are not aiming to create a masterpiece, you are aiming to complete the process.

You'll find that crossing off "Week 4" feels pretty satisfying.

If you compare you're week 13 piece to your week 1 piece, you'll be astounded by the improvement you made.

After 13 weeks, you evaluate, set yourself a new project to work on, and start again :)

Posting your art as you go to an Instagram account can be a good way to be a bit more accountable and also grow a bit of a fanbase early on - people love seeing artists develop! One of my friends sucks at art, but does this, and is improving and growing a following.
Thank you fellow artist <3

The "A problem we face is, we can picture what we want to create, but our skills might not be up to creating it - yet." reminded me of Ira Glass' "The Gap" ; if you haven't listened to it, you're in for a treat. It's pretty short too and mind blowing (well, it was for me). I am there theoretically, so to speak. I understand it logically. The psychological bit is a constant struggle though/

I'm taking the paint small and more frequently approach, show up even if it's just for a doodle. Push through the discomfort. I have an insta where I post stuff, made a YT channel to record timelapses because I'm a sucker for timelapses myself. When I do something I definitely post it.

Now I think that thanks to @Jeff Noel I have the solution. When I want to gift art to someone the thought of giving is stronger than the fear of starting. So instead of planning series of paintings, I will start by painting what my dear ones love the most. Making them bookmarks, postcards. I'm actually excited to sit this weekend and paint Calla lilies for my mom.

My new class for plein-air painting around Chicago starts in two weeks and I'll be doing some serious painting with easel and all each Sunday, no excuses.

Thanks for your support and advice!
 

RazorCut

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I’m not trying to judge you (or offend), just pointing out there may be other underlying reasons for your lack of execution. I’m saying you expressed an innate desire to paint but that seems at odds with you searching for a way to make painting a habit.

Maybe you have changed and not recognised it?

Of course it could be a form of procrastination. A self protection mechanism due to fear of failure or a perfectionist mentality, but then what’s stopping you painting for yourself and not sharing with others? That way you have the joy of your art without the fears associated with being judged.

We are complex creatures and sometimes we need to look at things from an abstract angle to gain greater insights.
 

GoodluckChuck

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I heard someone talk about art, specifically playing music or dancing as an act that is not about the ending, but rather the journey.

How I mean this in relation to your situation is that you don't seem to be looking at painting to be something you want to do for the sake of painting, like an artist would. You seem to be more concerned about the out come rather than the act of doing it.

Is that right? Is that why you stress about what to paint?

Art to me seems like something you do in the present moment. I'm not a painter, but I've made lots of things, and the best things were made in the present moment with no clear idea on how they would turn out.

If you want to make it a habit, I would put paint brushes all over your home and make it a habit to pick up a paint brush and paint a line on a piece of paper or something.

This would develop the physical habit of picking up a brush and putting some paint on something.

The second you do that, you are painting and you've achieved your goal.

Craft your environment so you are constantly presented with the oppot to put paint on something and you should have no problem.

Making art is more about the process of making art than the event of the final piece.
 

SamRussell

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I would question this whole premise. It seems you are in love with the idea of being a painter rather than being a painter.

From the artists I know (both amateur and professional) they don’t need to create a habit to paint, they paint because they have to. It is an urge they simply can’t resist. It would appear to be the opposite with you. If you had such an urge you wouldn’t need to look at habit formation and the trigger reward relationships in order to fulfil that need. You would just do it.

I love to read, to learn new things to spend time in nature. I do these on a daily basis because I can’t help myself. On the other hand I would love to be a great guitar player but I haven’t picked up my guitar in months. That to me says that I’m in love with the idea rather than the accomplishment.
I agree and disagree with this.

People that are great / professionals are usually like this.

People starting out who want to reach that level are not.

Building my habits of practicing, writing and studying took me sometime to get the hang of. And it only really clicked after I found a teacher that could help me with my direction.

Also if you actually do want to be a great guitar player hit me up and let's do something about it. I'll give you a free lesson.

Guitar is only fun when you are improving.
 

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PizzaOnTheRoof

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I would question this whole premise. It seems you are in love with the idea of being a painter rather than being a painter.

From the artists I know (both amateur and professional) they don’t need to create a habit to paint, they paint because they have to. It is an urge they simply can’t resist. It would appear to be the opposite with you. If you had such an urge you wouldn’t need to look at habit formation and the trigger reward relationships in order to fulfil that need. You would just do it.

I love to read, to learn new things to spend time in nature. I do these on a daily basis because I can’t help myself. On the other hand I would love to be a great guitar player but I haven’t picked up my guitar in months. That to me says that I’m in love with the idea rather than the accomplishment.
What would you say to someone that’s in love with the idea of being an entrepreneur/successful, but doesn’t follow through on it?

Can you make yourself truly love it?

Or is it a matter of creating a feedback loop?
 
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BellaPippin

BellaPippin

Enough snacking on mediocrity.
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I’m not trying to judge you (or offend), just pointing out there may be other underlying reasons for your lack of execution. I’m saying you expressed an innate desire to paint but that seems at odds with you searching for a way to make painting a habit.

Maybe you have changed and not recognised it?

Of course it could be a form of procrastination. A self protection mechanism due to fear of failure or a perfectionist mentality, but then what’s stopping you painting for yourself and not sharing with others? That way you have the joy of your art without the fears associated with being judged.

We are complex creatures and sometimes we need to look at things from an abstract angle to gain greater insights.
I didn't get offended, sorry if that sounded defensive I didn't mean it that way. Also when I meant I want to be a painter I was just saying it as "someone who paints" not really interested in being known or anything. I can also tell how irrational it sounds which only makes it more frustrating. Idk what it was. Art has always been an outlet. I've been a perfectionist all my life, my own worst judge but that didn't stop me from starting. I don't like art less than before. It's just as therapeutic as it's always been when I do get to sit down and do something.

I can't follow through with many things these days. I guess I'm just ranting a bit. But once I put a purpose to it suddenly it made me more excited, we'll see how it goes.
 
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BellaPippin

BellaPippin

Enough snacking on mediocrity.
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I heard someone talk about art, specifically playing music or dancing as an act that is not about the ending, but rather the journey.

How I mean this in relation to your situation is that you don't seem to be looking at painting to be something you want to do for the sake of painting, like an artist would. You seem to be more concerned about the out come rather than the act of doing it.

Is that right? Is that why you stress about what to paint?

Art to me seems like something you do in the present moment. I'm not a painter, but I've made lots of things, and the best things were made in the present moment with no clear idea on how they would turn out.

If you want to make it a habit, I would put paint brushes all over your home and make it a habit to pick up a paint brush and paint a line on a piece of paper or something.

This would develop the physical habit of picking up a brush and putting some paint on something.

The second you do that, you are painting and you've achieved your goal.

Craft your environment so you are constantly presented with the oppot to put paint on something and you should have no problem.

Making art is more about the process of making art than the event of the final piece.
Amen... it is 100% about how I feel while I'm painting. Part of it is probably to push through the discomfort knowing I won't like what I paint for a long time and just love the 2 hours of joy I got. My planner is full of doodles, the real struggle start when sitting to make something "serious".

I'm going to bring some supplies to the living room, I love that idea. Thanks man.
 
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BellaPippin

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Building my habits of practicing, writing and studying took me sometime to get the hang of. And it only really clicked after I found a teacher that could help me with my direction.
Taking Oil Painting 101 last semester was definitely a kick into getting my gears moving some. I got home and made a few things. Not just that but being around people that want to get better at art too, getting and giving feedback (none of my friends/acquaintances here do art, I signed up for two meetup groups this week). I'm excited about the next class starting next month because I know it will turn the ignition key again. Then again, then again.... until the ol' car starts and can do it on its own lol
 

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I know some of you guys can't relate to this struggle and that's okay. But I can assure you, wanting things badly enough is definitely not the reason it takes me 4x to (eventually) get where I want to be.
I get this. I have a beast of a family history on both sides. Depression, suicides etc. it’s ugly.

You know what you want, you know why you want it, you know what you need to do, what you want to do and you know how to do it...you just don’t. I’ve been there and it is a battle you fight every day.

My best defense and offense has been accountability. For me it’s to my kids. If I don’t take action during the day I have to go home, look these little miracles in the eye and feel like I’ve let them down and ask myself what could possibly be a priority over giving 110% to them and their well being.

Who can you be accountable to? Maybe it’s just this forum and this thread? I can’t paint for shit, I don’t try and I’m in awe of people who can, just like people who can sing. Not my strong suits. Point is, I guarantee you’re better than me and likely everybody who has responded to this thread. Hypothetically, what if we collectively asked you to paint something and post it here? Would you do it or would you fight it?
 

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If You, for a moment, would not take what will be written below as a de-motivation to paint, then i'll write it as i think it (otherwise please don't read it).

Why the heck you need the habits?!

I mean, who sold you on idea that you need habits?

Maybe all you need is... to paint.
 
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BellaPippin

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You know what you want, you know why you want it, you know what you need to do, what you want to do and you know how to do it...you just don’t. I’ve been there and it is a battle you fight every day.
Nailed it :'(

Accountability hasn't worked for me except when it comes to stay alive and keep my job and self-sustainability at all costs while I save because I'm by myself in the US and I don't want to go back home; my parents are sorta toxic without intending to, and as much as I love everyone there the mentality in general just blows.

To be more specific, I need a Execute-Order-66 type hot fire under my a$$ to get moving. Sedating meds are great for chest/stomach pains but have me feeling stupid and tired more often than not. I had a group of people send me still lives to paint with the same promise of posting them and they are just sitting on my iPad. I could promise my boyfriend or best friend and it would still not make a difference: they'd forgive me, I'd just add more guilt to my file and live with it. But I do see why your children do. Children are that type of hot fire. If I had little humans I'm sure I'd do whatever I had to do to make sure they came out alright...but I don't, and that's kinda why I don't want to either. But I truly truly appreciate the offer and the understanding.

To be honest it comes and goes in waves, I started the year on top of the world and thought that was it, after two years I was cured, and yet the past three or so months it kinda creeped back in. Not as bad but still lame. I just need to be patient and keep at it, better late than never. I know for sure going to painting classes helps and I don't regret investing the money, I'm eagerly waiting for the next one to start and I also marked two meet up groups downtown, one for figure drawing (group of people hire a model to pose and we all draw) and one for people who get together to make comics and zines which is something I want to explore writing-wise. I also switched gyms to one that's a few blocks away from work and my bf goes to so it should be easier to exercise now. He's been super encouraging and he goes shoot ball while I swim.

So yea I just need to be patient, I don't have many outlets (or kinda try to switch them up to not bore people) so that's why sometimes I creep in here for some ideas cause you guys are smart and problem solvers. :)
 
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BellaPippin

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If You, for a moment, would not take what will be written below as a de-motivation to paint, then i'll write it as i think it (otherwise please don't read it).

Why the heck you need the habits?!

I mean, who sold you on idea that you need habits?

Maybe all you need is... to paint.
Because if I don't make it a regular habit I'll keep procrastinating on it forever, like other things that I know are good for me and get me close to my goals. I'd paint something like three times a year like I've been doing the last decade.

Unless I'm not fully understanding what you mean. I mean... why do you brush your teeth in the morning? Keep in mind you're talking to someone who is willing to skip dinner when cooking seems too big of a task. ._.
 
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Kid

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You understood correctly.

There is a saying that "forever" means "very long time". Since procrastination is what you don't want, i'd suggest you to try to feel how'd you feel if it were too late for you.
Like, how would it feel if you were 88 and regret that you haven't painted all the paintings that you know you can paint.
That would be awful feeling.

You might also recall the moments when you were painting and bring back good feelings of that experience.
Now.Maybe you don't have opportunity to paint every day.
But maybe you could paint four times a year... Or maybe five times a year. You also might to learn to grab a paintbrush sixth time this year.
And before you'd realise you would have your habit of painting.
 

RazorCut

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What would you say to someone that’s in love with the idea of being an entrepreneur/successful, but doesn’t follow through on it?
I think I'd ask them why they say they want to be an entrepreneur.
Their own response should be enough to answer in their own mind what their true motive is.

There are many reasons why people say they want to be an entrepreneur. Freedom, money, material possessions. Being able to provide for their loved ones. Not answering to someone else etc.. Whatever it is if they are not following through (regardless of how slowly) then most probably their motivation is cloudy or just not strong enough.

Some people want it merely for the label like some people study for a PhD just so they can call themselves Doctor. In this day and age though the kudos of calling yourself an entrepreneur isn't very high as the barrier to entry is so low.

Lack of follow through could also be as simple as chronic procrastination. They don't have a big enough incentive to move them from inactivity to activity. They say they will do it 'one day' but as there is no time limit it will probably never happen unless outside forces come to bear (such as losing your job). There is nothing more motivating than a looming deadline to force a procrastinator into action.

Can you make yourself truly love it?

Or is it a matter of creating a feedback loop?
If you see entrepreneurship simply as a means to an end then I don't think you will ever truly love it. I've been running my own businesses for the most part of 35 years. Some businesses I loved, some I grew to loath over time. Even then I never thought to myself 'I want to get out of this and work for someone else'.
Entrepreneurship is at my very core, maybe because it is pretty much all I've known. But I love the process, the research, the discovery, the ability to take an idea and build something from it that others consider worthy enough that they are willing to pay for it.

I think to get started as an entrepreneur you need a spark. Just creating a business because you see an opportunity to make money probably won't motivate you for very long. Building a business because you have some form of passion around the subject is much more sustaining.

I would avoid relying on creating an artificial feedback loop in order to start a business. Anything you have to turn into a process in order for you to do it is probably doomed to failure.

I would instead look to your strengths, your interests and your skillset and seek ways of turning those into something that people will pay for.

I also wouldn't be too concerned with meeting all MJ's NECST criteria, just the commandant of need.

Once you have built that first business (no matter how small) and got a paying customer that is usually enough to ignite a fire and spur you on to bigger and better things.

After all it takes a lot of energy to get a rocket off the launch pad but, once it has build that momentum, far less to keep it in the air.
 

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Connor_Motivasis

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Hi all, looking for some support as usual... I figured a lot of you have read/heard and looked into how it works to develop/break habits, from a scientific perspective. I've read the "The Power of Habit" and some other texts related to it.

So, I want to paint, right? I want to be a painter. Feels like my whole self wants to paint. I have an urge to paint. But I can't make it a habit. Not sure if because of insecurities, perfectionism, clinical depression messing with my motivation/discipline even though I know I love to paint. Most I've accomplished when I'm not guided by a weekly class is sit down and maybe sketch my hand since I get paralysis by analysis on what is the right thing to draw, take all the tubes out, etc etc. Too much thinking.

I invite you to read this text (first answer) because it might be helpful to you too, and then, from this Forbes Article this part where the structure of a habit is described as follows:

  1. The Cue or Trigger: This is the part of the habit loop where you are triggered to take some sort of action through a cue in your internal or external environment.

  2. The Action: Good or bad, this is the part of the habit loop where you actually take action on the habit you want to adopt or drop.

  3. The Reward: This is the part of the habit loop where your brain receives a reward for taking the desired activity.
I understand the first two but I'm struggling with #3. Can you help me brainstorm of a reward to set for say, making a small piece of art? Because as the Forbes article explains, the habits we want to change release dopamine (the instant gratification). So say, treating myself to a purchase or something sweet won't do that (Ok maybe purchasing more art supplies...but at this point I have everything I need plus I'm trying to save money). I don't watch tv so that won't do. I like videogames but that won't do. It's hard because I deal with MDD so liking something doesn't necessarily mean I'll get that dopamine high that my brain will "get addicted to". Exercise releases dopamine but I don't see it as a reward to "get to go to workout". The paint piece itself won't "be" a reward because I'm a beginner so I more often than not don't like the outcome, I gotta go thru that to get better.

I know this is silly but what are some things that give you that "dopamine high"? I'm brainstorming trying to think of something and I'm at a loss.

~B
This is gonna sound weird, but carry around a dog clicker. As soon as you complete a task *Click*. This will associate that dopamine response of completing a task with the click, strengthening the connection each time. If you don't want to buy a clicker just snap or tap your shoulder twice (I recommend the clicker because its something to focus on as a reward). Also, make sure you don't click it just for funzies, it lessens the connection whenever it's used outside of the reward loop.

This is based on classical conditioning, proven science. After some time you can use the clicker, sparingly, to incite motivation BEFORE you start a task.
 

PizzaOnTheRoof

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I think I'd ask them why they say they want to be an entrepreneur.
Their own response should be enough to answer in their own mind what their true motive is.

There are many reasons why people say they want to be an entrepreneur. Freedom, money, material possessions. Being able to provide for their loved ones. Not answering to someone else etc.. Whatever it is if they are not following through (regardless of how slowly) then most probably their motivation is cloudy or just not strong enough.

Some people want it merely for the label like some people study for a PhD just so they can call themselves Doctor. In this day and age though the kudos of calling yourself an entrepreneur isn't very high as the barrier to entry is so low.

Lack of follow through could also be as simple as chronic procrastination. They don't have a big enough incentive to move them from inactivity to activity. They say they will do it 'one day' but as there is no time limit it will probably never happen unless outside forces come to bear (such as losing your job). There is nothing more motivating than a looming deadline to force a procrastinator into action.



If you see entrepreneurship simply as a means to an end then I don't think you will ever truly love it. I've been running my own businesses for the most part of 35 years. Some businesses I loved, some I grew to loath over time. Even then I never thought to myself 'I want to get out of this and work for someone else'.
Entrepreneurship is at my very core, maybe because it is pretty much all I've known. But I love the process, the research, the discovery, the ability to take an idea and build something from it that others consider worthy enough that they are willing to pay for it.

I think to get started as an entrepreneur you need a spark. Just creating a business because you see an opportunity to make money probably won't motivate you for very long. Building a business because you have some form of passion around the subject is much more sustaining.

I would avoid relying on creating an artificial feedback loop in order to start a business. Anything you have to turn into a process in order for you to do it is probably doomed to failure.

I would instead look to your strengths, your interests and your skillset and seek ways of turning those into something that people will pay for.

I also wouldn't be too concerned with meeting all MJ's NECST criteria, just the commandant of need.

Once you have built that first business (no matter how small) and got a paying customer that is usually enough to ignite a fire and spur you on to bigger and better things.

After all it takes a lot of energy to get a rocket off the launch pad but, once it has build that momentum, far less to keep it in the air.
Very good reply. Thank you so much!
 

Bertram

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Hi all, looking for some support as usual... I figured a lot of you have read/heard and looked into how it works to develop/break habits, from a scientific perspective. I've read the "The Power of Habit" and some other texts related to it.

So, I want to paint, right? I want to be a painter. Feels like my whole self wants to paint. I have an urge to paint. But I can't make it a habit. Not sure if because of insecurities, perfectionism, clinical depression messing with my motivation/discipline even though I know I love to paint. Most I've accomplished when I'm not guided by a weekly class is sit down and maybe sketch my hand since I get paralysis by analysis on what is the right thing to draw, take all the tubes out, etc etc. Too much thinking.

I invite you to read this text (first answer) because it might be helpful to you too, and then, from this Forbes Article this part where the structure of a habit is described as follows:

  1. The Cue or Trigger: This is the part of the habit loop where you are triggered to take some sort of action through a cue in your internal or external environment.

  2. The Action: Good or bad, this is the part of the habit loop where you actually take action on the habit you want to adopt or drop.

  3. The Reward: This is the part of the habit loop where your brain receives a reward for taking the desired activity.
I understand the first two but I'm struggling with #3. Can you help me brainstorm of a reward to set for say, making a small piece of art? Because as the Forbes article explains, the habits we want to change release dopamine (the instant gratification). So say, treating myself to a purchase or something sweet won't do that (Ok maybe purchasing more art supplies...but at this point I have everything I need plus I'm trying to save money). I don't watch tv so that won't do. I like videogames but that won't do. It's hard because I deal with MDD so liking something doesn't necessarily mean I'll get that dopamine high that my brain will "get addicted to". Exercise releases dopamine but I don't see it as a reward to "get to go to workout". The paint piece itself won't "be" a reward because I'm a beginner so I more often than not don't like the outcome, I gotta go thru that to get better.

I know this is silly but what are some things that give you that "dopamine high"? I'm brainstorming trying to think of something and I'm at a loss.

~B
Dopamine dopamine
do whop do whop
No one knows the f*ck it means
do whop do whop
Six dop'ma'neurgic neural streams
shabap shabap shabap
Two for habits, for four for novel schemes
[or]
[when the reticular activating formation foments with pons medulla
nut
nut
nut
[paranoid dreams]
dobe doola

Oh
Don't you know
Art is novelty and learning
That ain't tied to habit training
When you feel the dopa's raining
That novel feedback loop is gaining

So
Shebop shebop
Creatives
In Art, Tech, Biz and Sci
Need to keep the task demands high
To match skill levels when they try
Task too easy and you'll fly
Way too hard and it's bye-bye
You'll hear that Script and comply
Cziksentmihalyi writes about it in "Flow"
I add "syncretistic feedback" to the science of 'go'

So do it, go on
Go on, go on
Paint that sky
A moment is your butterfly


It seems appropriate to respond to Art with Art when possible.

The above scat song is factually correct.

I think the discussions of habit building techniques are really useful, thanks.

Many Creative develop task avoidance and call it a 'block.'
Is that your experience as well?
Sometimes habitual practice, or lack of it, has nothing to do with poor work habits.

Problem 1.
The blocked artist or writer needs a challenge to surge past boredom and into the work, but also a sensory feedback loop to switch on the work, switch back to the diurnal self - then back into creative flow.

In other words, something in the environment or work conditions has to stimulate the senses to keep the Creatives arousal level high enough to keep focused.

It's easy to feed the sensory loop when you're in a stimulating situation, like art class, or a sunny mountainside patio over a waterfall, or in extreme stillness, or drinking, or macerating watermelon gummy bears while listening to Rachel Maddow.

Problem 2.
The skill level must be equal to the demands of the task. If not, the doer feel boredom (task too easy) or frustration and fear (task too hard.)
The suggestions to experience creative work as an ongoing process gives one the power to adjust skill level and task levels.

Good luck as you go.

The long gold leaf tip is very satisfying against the textured shadow. Very nice.
 
Last edited:

Bryan James

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When we consistently do things that eventually become habits, it's a lot easier to make them stick when we start realizing and experiencing the benefits of our actions/habits and the positive effects they produce.
 

ChrisV

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Hi all, looking for some support as usual... I figured a lot of you have read/heard and looked into how it works to develop/break habits, from a scientific perspective. I've read the "The Power of Habit" and some other texts related to it.

So, I want to paint, right? I want to be a painter. Feels like my whole self wants to paint. I have an urge to paint. But I can't make it a habit. Not sure if because of insecurities, perfectionism, clinical depression messing with my motivation/discipline even though I know I love to paint. Most I've accomplished when I'm not guided by a weekly class is sit down and maybe sketch my hand since I get paralysis by analysis on what is the right thing to draw, take all the tubes out, etc etc. Too much thinking.

I invite you to read this text (first answer) because it might be helpful to you too, and then, from this Forbes Article this part where the structure of a habit is described as follows:

  1. The Cue or Trigger: This is the part of the habit loop where you are triggered to take some sort of action through a cue in your internal or external environment.

  2. The Action: Good or bad, this is the part of the habit loop where you actually take action on the habit you want to adopt or drop.

  3. The Reward: This is the part of the habit loop where your brain receives a reward for taking the desired activity.
I understand the first two but I'm struggling with #3. Can you help me brainstorm of a reward to set for say, making a small piece of art? Because as the Forbes article explains, the habits we want to change release dopamine (the instant gratification). So say, treating myself to a purchase or something sweet won't do that (Ok maybe purchasing more art supplies...but at this point I have everything I need plus I'm trying to save money). I don't watch tv so that won't do. I like videogames but that won't do. It's hard because I deal with MDD so liking something doesn't necessarily mean I'll get that dopamine high that my brain will "get addicted to". Exercise releases dopamine but I don't see it as a reward to "get to go to workout". The paint piece itself won't "be" a reward because I'm a beginner so I more often than not don't like the outcome, I gotta go thru that to get better.

I know this is silly but what are some things that give you that "dopamine high"? I'm brainstorming trying to think of something and I'm at a loss.

~B
you have the best username ever. i feel like you should have your own monopoly character
 

splok

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My planner is full of doodles, the real struggle start when sitting to make something "serious".
I've known some amazing artists, and they were always working on something. That doesn't mean it was always something "serious" though. One of their tricks is to do speed sketches, where they give themselves a super-short time limit (5 minutes maybe, with an alarm so you have a hard stop) to sketch something. This breaks through many of the problems with procrastination and over-analysis since it prevents any sort of perfectionism, keeps the time/effort investment from feeling too daunting, etc. You don't need to care if it's good. You don't need to show it to anyone. I would say that you should rip it up as soon as you're done (do that mentally at least), except that doing these daily and keeping them will let you see your progress over time better than almost anything else.

You don't hone your skill by spending all of your time trying to make a masterpiece. You become able to do so by practicing the hard parts over and over until they're not hard.
 

Mattie

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Looping tends to be from your emotional triggers in the subconscious mind from traumatic events in relationships in various forms.
It’s true the amygdala and limbic system is related to the emotional center and the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system. Dopamine is the highway to all addictions.
Usually when you’re in emotional and mental pain most people want to escape their body and reality. Often, the first thing anyone wants to do is release that emotional pain by some vice they’ve chosen.
You’ve conditioned yourself to have an emotional reaction to certain sounds, smells, taste, touch, and sight in your environment.
Virtual reality therapy helped me back in 2010-2013, and universities are tapping into this the last few years. A lot of it has to do with eye rapid movement therapy, also sound therapy, and it’s really taking one step at a time and fear exposure.
In 2014-2015, I had Millionaire Fastlane Therapy, as an INFJ, and of course, you can’t get any more skittish than an INFJ and facing a bunch of Entrepreneurs.
Really fear exposure is placing yourself in environments where you you’re purposely emotionally triggering yourself to get over your deepest fears.
Every time you get emotionally triggered, those deepest fears come up, and you either withdraw into your shell or you stay out and face your giants.
When your looping in your memory, you’re like a broken record. A false belief, giving yourself some kind of false feedback about your capabilities in your internal dialogue to self.
I even listened to Dan Pena Video’s to purposely emotionally trigger me, so I wouldn’t react in a negative way.
You really, must make a choice to get over your deepest fears.
Back in 2010, the person I worked with as well taught me NLP, and if you work with someone who constantly reminds you to stay in the now, you create a habit of diverting your attention to right now.
If you’re thinking about the past and not focused right now on the present, and not executing in painting or whatever project in front of you, it’s where you have to practice diverting your attention and focus to what your doing. This takes practice every day, it can’t be learned by reading things, it’s focusing your mind and tuning into what is in front of you and not allowing yourself to get stuck in fear.
It’s not something I did in a week, a month, and it took me about a year until I started making it a natural habit.
Visualization or Mental Rehearsing works as well. Seeing yourself taking action, painting, and the more you do this, you naturally train your brain to take action instead of reverting back to the negative self-talk which says, “I can’t do this.”
This is more of a process you go through versus instant gratification and instant overnight success.
Writing every day as well in a journal, blog, forum, wherever, helps you structure your thoughts, emotions, and feelings. The more you write, the more your thoughts become clearer. The more your communication skills improve. When you’re writing, this is your thoughts. Whenever you’re doing any art form or medium, the focus is on training your mind to be focused, paying attention to details, and when you’re doing art therapy or music therapy, it’s really expressing your emotions, thoughts, and feelings.
I see writing as dumping out all your garbage out of the subconscious mind and really eventually your run out of garbage, and then you don’t know what to write anymore.
Perfectionism usually means your being critical with self, beating yourself up, and expecting yourself to be perfect. Perhaps fault finding, nagging, and being your worst enemy. This is where you have to change your dialogue with yourself. How you communicate with yourself, means success or failure.
This is all about how you speak to yourself, how you speak to others. And of course, you usually argue with other people, because you don’ t like negative feedback.
This is changing your perception of the other person. Understanding other people are not the Villain in your experience. Perhaps they say mean things, but it’s really not about you, but their own emotional wounds.
Understand what belongs to you and what belongs to them. Practice being the observer and non-attachment to what other people say.
If you want to be creative, it’s surrounding yourself with creative ideas, there everywhere online if you look.
When I write, I don’t think about it, I just do it. If I don’t feel like writing, I write anyway. I love diversity. I write non-fiction, novel, short-story, and poetry. There’s more than one way to paint as well.
One of the things I also learned, is you don’t need a reward for what you do. It’s more about doing something because you really enjoy doing it, and even something you enjoy, there’s days you don’t enjoy doing it.
I don’t like learning everything I have to learn to succeed, but I do it because I have too, to succeed. And it comes down to the question, “How bad do you want to succeed.” And what I learned the last year, it doesn’t matter what I feel, what I want, what I desire, or what I need. It’s about succeeding period.
There are no excuses. And sure, we can make up every excuse in the book, but sometimes you do just have to do it no matter what life looks like, feels like, smells like, tastes life, our sounds like. That sounds tough, but that is the way the world is in the real world. It’s tough, and you have to be tough yourself to succeed and thrive.
 

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