How to stay motivated despite difficulties?

I wonder if some of you might enjoy helping me explore a couple of ideas about mindsets for how to take a project to completion when up against difficulty.

Does anyone have any project horror stories and possible solutions of how they handled it? Backup failure, wrong format types, miscommunication from the art director etc etc.

Actually I tweeted a funny link about the latter not too long ago, well worth a look if you haven’t seen it already…

Anyway, there’s certainly different personalities at our studio that handle project/technical/personal difficulties in different ways, I suppose not too dissimilar to the popular humorous post by cliffy b regarding the people you often find…

So how do you motivate yourself to carry on a project to completion when blender/photoshop/gimp/insert just about any application here just crashed and you’ve lost your backup files? Or maybe you realise you’ve made a wrong turn early on and have wasted a day. Or that your level of ability seems to have plateaued and the same rewards for the same effort are no more.

Do you have any particular methods of motivation? are you a go for a walk type? Or a smash the keyboard type? Or can you keep your emotions even quite easily through the stresses.

I’ve heard it put that through a project or a learning curve you know you’ll hit a plateau so accept it as part of the process. When you no longer feel like you’re getting anywhere, just keep pushing safe in the knowledge that you’ll push right on through to the next level (ready for the next inevitable plateau).

Anyway, I’d love to hear your ideas.
Many thanks

Michael Jackson Iron Will Power.

Sometimes you need to let things rest or settle for a while and not force it
but I found out often when I stopped running away and just did it just working
made me feel good and often the results were better to my surprise.

Are you saying that so long as you enjoy the work and take a break and remind yourself of that from time to time it tends to help matters?

Seems to make sense to me.

Shame about Michael’s end by the way I guess it got too much for him after all.

Is ‘take time to sharpen the saw’ a common phrase to everyone? I only heard it recently but I think it was Abe Lincoln, so it’s definitely been around for a while! haha.

I like the idea of the story of 2 lumberjacks, one keeps going off for a break every so often while the other keeps sawing away, at the end of the day the lumberjack who worked sawing all day is astounded to find that the 2nd lumberjack had been more productive. Frustrated and exhausted the first lumberjack asks the second how did you cut more wood than me, you kept taking breaks!?

The second lumberjack responds ‘I wasn’t taking a break, I was off sharpening my saw.’

Has anyone ever abandoned a project and felt it was the right move though? I guess sometimes quiting is the right and ultimately more productive thing to do.

Besides all the drama around him, he had a very strong will, and that not everybody has.

I personally like challenges but often once it starts get scared if I did not take too much on my shoulders.
Being a perfectionist I want only to deliver quality work - so I setup myself up for pressure.

However one statement of my professor turned to be true. Talking and thinking is important but does not
generate work. Only sitting down and doing it will in the end produce work and results.

However when you feel you are hitting a wall step away work on something different. My best design
decisions where done later. My first version were hardly good. And thats normal as this is a process.

Working hard is not working smart. In the US there is this mentality of hard work producing great results
and most of products I feel are not at the quality standard and expectation like where I am from. There we
work less and put focus onto what we do after work.

That for example is a practice Google also employs and Apples soon as well because they noticed that when
you work too much productivity drops.

Right now I prepare for a Maya workshop and I have not used the software since years. After having tried
to figure our how to get into perspective mode and how to do certain things I wanted to cancel the workshop
(of course not) but did I start hating the software.
It just will take me few days to get back into it - so I got some youtube intro movies to refresh my knowledge.

In the end the workshop will be great.

I have come to appreciate every step along the way to whereever I’m going. It’s too easy to focus on the goal and feel that every step that doesn’t reach the goal is a failure. Not good enough. But now I’m happy with anything that gets me closer. Even a step on the wrong direction is good because I know not to go that way again.

I have a thread going in WIP and I’m pretty sure most people think I’m crazy posting all the trivial disorganized stuff I do. But every post is a small success for me, even it it’s not obvious to anyone else. Enjoy the journey. It’s where you spend most of your time and effort.

Yeah, will is a characterstic which many people lack, that’s true. I think no matter what one is doing, talent can only come to its best expression through will. I think what helps in difficult situations is to look back for a minute and realize what one has done already. and it is worth taking a few more small steps rather than a big one.

the key is the new features!

Endi, your social commentary is frequently apropos. Ask yourself though, are you sure it is here?

Thanks for all the responses everyone, there’s some really good stuff here.

I love that! I can already see myself using that down the line :slight_smile:

That’s very cool, I guess for that very reason I’ve heard it said that when you don’t know which road to take, every road will take you there.

I like how open you are about all the disorganized stuff :slight_smile: That’s something i’d like to incorporate a bit more too, getting more feedback and bouncing ideas off of people, I guess that’s what this is all about.

So true Jay, I always forget to look back, poetically making the past easy to forget! But, there’s so much behind us to be used as evidence of achievement. It’s something I definitely need to work on.

haha, that’s probably quite true!

It is definitely a motivator for me at least when there are new tools to try out. I suppose it informs workflow and gives a fresh look/attack on a project that might otherwise be going stale fast.

Your new game by the way looks ace! Can’t wait to see some more development on that! :slight_smile:

When it comes to mindsets, the way I look at it is perspectives. 3DCG activities are generally project oriented activities which at times require time limits and deadlines. If you have no timelimit or deadline than there really isnt any pressure. But with time limits and deadlines prioritizing and time management are essential.

Whenever I am part of a team with a project oriented activity with a deadline involved one of four things usually happens.

Best Case Scenario
Everyone enjoys working on the project. All major deadlines are completed in a timely manner. The project is completed. Everyone gets paid.

Worst/Best Case Scenario
The project has numerous problems. Deadlines are either compromise or completed at the last possible minute. But despite any internal or external obstacles the project is completed albeit with a last minute miracle or a last quarter touchdown.

Best/Worst Case Scenario
The project starts with much potential and high hopes. Everything at first works on schedule. But some devastating unforeseen event occurs and the project unexpectedly crashes and burns to the ground.

Worst Case Scenario
I don’t know what I was thinking signing on to this project. I knew the project manager was a doofus. Everything I predicted would go wrong has gone wrong and no one wants to listen to my advise as to how to proceed forward. It’s time to count my losses and bow out as gracefully as possible.

That is my perspective.

Why is it that the worst case scenario gave me a chuckle?

That’s a pretty good breakdown of the probable outcomes though in my view.

Certainly is less stressful when you just accept that deadlines are a major factor to stress leading to crashing and burning so early organising of expectation could be key to avoiding that.

Thanks animaguy! :slight_smile:

Eat Candy!

Expecting a serious answer?

What I found useful when teaching my students is an approach of small steps.

First set yourself reachable goals - dont try to be pro when you are simply not.
Step by step produce for yourself good results because emotionally they help help building confidence.

After some time looking back, you will have a nice set or examples of work you will be proud of.
Those help often when in a tight situation to remind yourself that you can do it.

cool, thanks all, here are some bullet points…

  • Will Power
  • Enjoy the work
  • Talking and thinking is important but does not generate work. Only sitting down and doing it will in the end produce work and results.
  • when you feel you are hitting a wall step away work on something different.
  • Appreciate all steps whether right or wrong - even a step in the wrong direction is good because you’ll know not to go that way again.
  • look back for a minute and realize what one has already been able to achieve
  • Aim to take more small steps rather than one large difficult one. (Break it down into manageable chunks)
  • Explore new ideas, learn new techniques, try new features!
  • Set realistic deadlines
  • Eat candy! haha.

Nice work all! Thanks for the input, now it’s time to get back to it! :smiley:

yep - find truly what you are passionated about and not what you want to be.

for instance, I am motivated to create when I can learn something new.
I an information or process driven designer or artists.

And oddly my best work was created most times when I tried out a new modeling or fabrication technique.
The other things that motivates me is to create commentary work which itself again is based on
observations and research.

Just doing something just cause will make me look like a very uncreative person.

So you need to figure our how you internally work and then feed that engine.