4 min read

Progress Is Not Linear (Learning Habit Building with Pixel Art, Part Four)

Hello there! I'm Brennan Davis, the creator of CreaDev Labs, a place of learning and experimentation on productivity, creativity, and personal knowledge management. If you're new around here, be sure to check out my archive of previous newsletter editions. If you enjoy this newsletter, please consider sharing with a friend!

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As I worked on several of the pieces for my ongoing 30 Day Pixel Art Challenge this past week, I found it a little harder than before to make some of the drawings recognizable. It felt a bit unfair. After all, I've been putting in the work every day, and people are always saying how things get easier the more you practice. So why does it seem like I'm getting worse?

This was a reminder to me that progress isn't always linear. This is something James Clear in his book Atomic Habits calls the "Valley of Disappointment".

Valley of Disappointment

It feels like our progress should increase at a steady pace, when in reality it's a lot slower than we'd like at first. Because we don't progress as quickly as we'd like, we oftentimes don't make it out of the Valley of Disappointment. We stop before we reach the moment of breakthrough.

As I come to the final week of the 30 Day Pixel Art Challenge, I'm resolved to push through the Valley of Disappointment and reach that moment of breakthrough where my progress will suddenly begin to soar. Each entry I've done in the challenge, whether it was good or bad, has taught me something, and I'm already a better Pixel Artist than I was before. It's going to take a little longer to become as good as I really want to be, and I can't give up now if I truly want to get there.

What do you do to push through the hard parts of learning a new skill? Please share with me by sending an email to brennan@creadevlabs.com, or if you're viewing this on the website please share in the comments section below.


Things I'm working on to improve my productivity and personal knowledge management practices

I mentioned in last week's newsletter I was starting a dedicated reading journal. I went with a very simple setup, just a cover page, an opening quote, and an index. I look forward to having a physical notebook to see all the main takeaways, notes, and thoughts I have on the books I read. It'll be a convenient reference.

What I'm Reading / Watching / Listening to:

Resources and ideas from others to explore

Article: Decide once: use this “Lazy Genius” principle to transform your note taking system
An important part of one's productivity and personal knowledge management system is the inbox, a place where all new notes and tasks can go to be processed at a later time. This article is advocating for such an idea. The author advises to choose one place for all new notes to go; that way you don't have to waste time by agonizing over where something goes. I personally have a few places where new notes and tasks can be recorded. New tasks either go in my Bullet Journal or Things. New notes go into my Bullet Journal or Obsidian. While it would be nice to have one place where everything goes (the closest thing being my Bullet Journal), I don't always have my notebook or my phone with me, so whichever one I do have on hand, that's where I record the task or note that I need to get out of my head. I then funnel everything into it's proper place during my Weekly Review.

Article: 3-2-1: Healthy self-esteem, how to build an exercise habit, and improving by 1%
In James Clear's newsletter this week, he included a quote about exercise from writer Sarah Perry. She talked about how exercise is often introduced to people who are just starting out at an intensity that is far above what would be enjoyable to them. She recommends people start slow so they learn to like it, and then build up from there. That's what I've been doing with my exercise routine, as I talked about in one of my recent newsletters. Exercise has been much more manageable and desirable for me to do by only doing two, short exercises and slowly increasing them each day. If you're struggling with getting into exercise, starting with just one exercise for a short period of time each day is a great place to start.

Questions or comments?

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