Maintaining Momentum

We toy photographers sure are a busy bunch! Shelly has turned to setting deadlines to reach her goals, and Brett balances his full plate with intentional, restrictive time management in the editing room.

As we draw closer and closer to the end of the year, I’ve found that I too am struggling to keep up with the passage of time. Projects I envisioned or began earlier in the year have fallen by the wayside, photo ideas have gone untaken, and I feel constantly behind schedule. In fact, this very post is being written last-minute thanks to traveling for the Thanksgiving holiday. I rushed the setting sun in order to nab my required photos in time!

“It’s late, it’s late, and I haven’t taken a photo yet!”

I have a few things to blame for my being behind schedule. 2017 as a whole has been a tumultuous year for me personally, which has thrown any sense of routine or planning out the window. I’ve started on several big photo projects, have been building a freelance business, and have exciting secretive things planned that I’ll be able to announce and fully discuss soon.

With holidays, family gatherings, and end-of-the-year anxiety in the mix, I’ve began to lose one of the most important things for success: Momentum. 

“Success is like a snowball. You gotta get it moving and the more you roll in the right direction, the greater it gets.” -Steve Ferrante

When I lose momentum, I lose focus.

I lose the drive to continue with responsibilities or ambitions. Even the smallest of tasks begin to feel overwhelming, and the finish line escapes view completely.

This loss in momentum comes in waves, and can be caused by a variety of things. Depression, anxiety, self doubt, crazy work schedules, a loss of motivation, poor health, “real world” responsibilities… the list goes on and on.

“I’m just going to rest. Just… for… a… minute… zzzzz”

Actually regaining momentum can be difficult to do. What’s helpful can change depending on the situation. Regardless of what you find helpful, one key element can keep the momentum building: Consistency. 

“One way to keep momentum going is to have constantly greater goals.” – Michael Korda

Consistency compounds.

Even the smallest tasks, repeatedly and consistently completed, can build your momentum. This time of year, I find that a routine is supremely helpful to me. So, every day, I try to go to bed at the same time. If I do this consistently, I’ll eventually make it a habit,  and I’ll stop staying up so late that it throws off my other goals and responsibilities. Then I find other things affecting my routine, and I repeat the process.

I find that giving myself deadlines (and sticking to them), trying to accomplish at least one small artistic goal each day, keeping up on my photo walks, and planning my creative output can all build up or continue my momentum.

Of course, it’s easier said than done. But it’s well worth the effort!

What have you found that helps you maintain your momentum? Do you lose momentum at the end of the year? Tell us your tips in the comments!


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“I’m late, I’m late!’


  1. brett_wilson

    Mate, I’m so beat at this time of year. And this year even more so than usual?!
    But, keeping a routine keeps me motivated. Even with less and less “toy time” around this time of the year, I make sure I get some. Even if it’s only 15 minute on a hectic weekend, it’s still some. And that some keeps the motivation, inspiration and the learning bubbling along.
    Sure, I wish I had more time, but once the scramble towards the end of the year is done, I’ll be saddled with so many ideas that I didn’t get the time to fully explore. Even though I curse this crazy, busy time of the year, I relish the time to exhale once it’s passed!

  2. Kim Boarth

    I’m not a toy photographer but I have been trying to build myself a house with my own two hands for years. The process is a slow one. I think you’re absolutely right about consistency being key. I find it is the same thing with building or any other goal really. We all seem to have a “switch” internally. You can flip the switch and suddenly be a dynamo of production and willpower, sticking to a healthful routine where you walk regularly and prepare great foods. But man oh man, if that switch gets turned off it can be the hardest thing in the world to turn back on. I think that is where there is a fortune to be made….figure out how to flip people’s switches to “on”. I know I’ve been working on the house consistently for about the past fifteen months and I am terrified of losing momentum so, like you, set even small goals and attain them regularly. Keep on keepin’ on, right?

  3. Great post, one I shouldn’t be reading because of all the deadlines I have right now… but coming over to Toy Photographer is my little sanity check for the day.

    I am hopeless at maintaining momentum, likely for a lot fo the same reasons you have stated, maybe it’s a James thing. 😛

    I love that you have adopted a schedule of sorts to keep you in line, it’s something I must do. As for your rushed images to accompany the post, they look magnificent.

    Thanks for sharing.

  4. James, the image of the bunny sleeping on his hammock cracks me up. Nice work all the way around. I will admit I live by lists. If I didn’t have a to-do list going at all times, I would wander around my house aimlessly. It doesn’t always get done, but when Im feeling unfocused, it gets me back on track. Thanks for sharing your process James!

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