For this month’s Sunday| Mag articles, we asked some of our favorite writers this one question: What’s one thing you’ve been learning all year long that you’d like to share with Sunday| Mag’s readers? In this article,?Jason Watson talks about what it takes to develop a mastery of graphic/video design skills.
I think it?s something you don?t realize at first, when the euphoria of any new undertaking sweeps aside the doubts or the struggles like dust under the rug. Out of sight and out of mind can certainly work for a time, but then in the stillness of the night, perhaps on a calm yet chilled winter?s eve, it can creep into your mind with all the subtlety of a wrecking ball:
Design is really hard.[quote]Design is really hard.[/quote]
Sure, it?s an obvious statement, but so many times I want to feel like my craft should be effortless, as if a growth in professionalism and skill entails a commensurate rise in ease.
But then the years inch by with their gnawing regularity, and too often in my honest moments I feel like I am getting worse at what I do; or if not that, at least everyone is getting better.
Every year I want to see myself improve, I want to feel like the work I do is gaining in quality and creativity. But every year without fail I cannot help but look back and wonder where the progress is to be found, to ponder the apparent lack of movement.
After all, everyone else seems to be moving forward. Everyone else seems to be getting better by leaps and bounds, but here I am still stuck at the beginning, pushing pixels in Sisyphean fashion.
And so I scramble to try out new things, to tweak processes, to develop new styles and gain new skills. And all of those are great. But the problem arises because of one truth that is better to learn sooner than later:
Humans are awful at multitasking.[quote]Humans are awful at multitasking.[/quote]
We try to imagine that we excel at this, and some of us do it better than others. But the reality is that we are at our best not when we are managing layers upon layers of complexity, but rather when we can work with a singular focus.
Focus gives us the chance to concentrate all of our powers on one thing, to devote the considerable resources of our mind and our bodies toward one goal. It helps create movement since it is pointed in one direction.
A car can drive fairly well on a snow-packed road if you know how to do it and are paying very close attention. A lapse in concentration, however, can mean spinning into the ditch. Now, doing donuts in a parking lot is quite a bit of fun, but it?s a terrible way to get anywhere.
Likewise, if you try to turn yourself in too many directions at once, you will find that you are simply spinning your wheels and ultimately going nowhere. Clarity of purpose and focus can help to give your work and your creativity direction. It takes the abstract and turns it into the concrete, allowing you to move forward into something new.[quote]Clarity of purpose and focus can help to give your work and your creativity direction.[/quote]
It?s easy with each new year to want to try new things, and you absolutely should. But too often our goals are either too legion or too unattainable, and we end up dispensing with them all in short order.
This year, find your one thing. Is it a skill you want to learn? Spend the whole year focusing on that. Are you wanting to grow your business? Pour your energy into learning best practices, marketing skills, and the like. Do you want to develop a new style? Devote your time to studying the things you love and simply creating the style you ultimately want to embody.
It?s true: doing just one thing can feel lame. But it?s really the best way to get better at learning or doing. Mastery of any skill certainly takes time, but it also takes an unbelievable amount of focus.[quote]Mastery of any skill certainly takes time, but it also takes an unbelievable amount of focus.[/quote]
Start this year off right by finding your one thing and going all in on it. Wrestle with it. Struggle. Get frustrated, bored, excited, discouraged, hopeful, and maybe even a little mad. The more passion you pour into your one thing, the more you will grow and the further you will go.