Transformation by Numbers: How to Create Constant Improvement

There is an art and science to getting and maintaining constant improvement in your life and creative endeavors.

This post will look at how you can transform your photography, as seen through the lens of my own transformation, as well as set the bar for what’s next in the coming 365 days.

Here’s what I’ve found to work well for completing a 365 day challenge…

  1. CLARITY. Make sure you know exactly what you’ve committed to and write it down, preferably somewhere public. If you don’t, your mind will play tricks on you and allow you to back out of what you know you really want to accomplish.
  2. CONSISTENCY. During the first 30 days, you MUST meet or exceed your challenge requirements every single day. The force of habit in those first 30 days will inspire and drive you through the rough middle stages of your transformation.
  3. COURAGE. It often takes more courage to continue a task than to start one. The reason is that initial expectations and notions of greatness must be abandoned. In order to complete your task, you must accept “good enough” on your way to “greatness.”
  4. COMMUNITY. You can transform alone like the caterpillar becoming a butterfly, but it’s much easier when you are surrounded by community. Don’t stay in your cocoon, spread your wings, join with others, and learn to fly together.
  5. COMPLETION. There is fanfare in beginnings, but transformation happens upon completion. Many start the race, but not everyone finishes. Be a finisher. Even if you end up crawling across the finish line, do not give up. Remember the tortoise… he always wins.

Completing the first year of tasra365 was a bit anti-climactic. I’m not sure what I expected, but it didn’t show up. I actually felt depressed after I clicked the Publish button on my final post. My spirits sank a bit, rather than rising up and shouting.

What was this? After all that work, all the time invested, how could I be disappointed and discouraged?

Let this be a warning to those of you still on your journey… it may not happen to you, but if it does, I found a solution. I needed another mountain to climb, a challenge to face, an adventure to begin. Until I found a new beginning, I would sit in the past of my accomplishment, rather than let the future spur me on to greater transformation.

So here is the plan…

tasra365 meets tasra52

Today is the beginning of tasra365 – Year 2. I’m taking on a new challenge to transform my writing 300% in one year. For now, the challenge is to do some creative writing daily. That could be a blog post, morning pages, journal, prayer, novel, etc. There is no word minimum or maximum, but it must be writing, not editing. It starts today with this blog post and will continue throughout the next 365 days – some online, some offline, but daily commitment to developing my writing once again (more on why I chose that area in a later post).

Today is also the beginning of tasra52 – a weekly challenge. The past 365 days focused on photography, understanding my camera and learning how to be a better photographer. The next 52 weeks will focus on taking those images and transforming them creatively after-capture. I’m setting a weekly challenge for myself to transform my post processing skills. At a minimum, I’ll choose one image and focus on post processing, which could mean limiting myself to only Lightroom or a certain number of actions, it could mean creating a new preset or Photoshop action, it could mean processing and recording my steps so I can start building favorite images recipes and batch processing. The options are limitless, but bottom line is that once a week I’ll focus on everything after capture.

There are many reasons I chose that topic for tasra52, but the image below is a perfect example. I processed this image last week and love the look. Unfortunately, I didn’t keep the PSD layered file, nor did I write down the steps I took to create it. That means it’s basically one of a kind… great for painters who are selling million dollar paintings, not so great for me when I really like and want to duplicate the look for other images. So, next time it’s going to be part of tasra52 and I’m going to be able to share with you every step I took so you can try it at home too!

Are you with me? What do you think of these new challenges? I’d love to get your input!

A special thanks for all who commented on the blog, Facebook and Twitter with your congratulations yesterday. When I read your comments, tears came to my eyes. That community piece in our transformation is so vital and knowing the journey had been valuable to you as well made it all worthwhile.

  • Lia

    I think it's a great plan, for both writing and post. I especially love the writing each day (I've also been doing some creative writing each day, too; somehow, much harder to do than taking photographs…).

  • Dianne – Bunny Trails

    I love that you came up with a new challenge for the next 365 days. I think it's great. I also like the writing challenge. I go in spells of writing, just like everything else in life. Even the 365 Project. I get a picture posted for each day – eventually. Oftentimes, it's in batches, though. I'm so impressed that you pulled it off. I look forward to following your new challenge.

  • brianpalmer

    Oh Tasra, we think alike, I'm thinking about writing short stories once a week to post on the blog accompanied by an image to illustrate. It was a project Kubota talked about at Summer School this year. I agree with you 100%, you have to keep on growing, the 365 was just the starting point.

    Love both ideas, with the after-capture development and writing challenge. What is really impressive is that you are constantly pushing yourself further, I think you felt the dullness at the end of the project because inside you know this isn't the end, just a completion of a chapter.

    I only have about 2 weeks left and I'm still fumbling through what the next steps will be, or better yet how the next chapter will read. opportunities are endless with your drive and motivation is endless.

    Very Very Proud and excited for you Tasra.

  • Michelle Bowman

    Love you r new plan. You have inspired me and I am about to start my own 365 to being a better photographer !

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