Friday, September 18, 2020

How to Stick to Your Streaming Plans

Have you been struggling to follow through with plans on your Twitch streams? Maybe you committed to doing a daily morning show, but couldn't keep it consistent for more than a few weeks. Or you wanted to make compilation videos from your streams, but stopped uploading after the second entry. It could be as simple as saying you were going to start streaming in the first place, but quickly finding you couldn't follow through. Don't worry if you've been in this situation, it's happened to all of us at one point or another. The problem however, might lie deeper than motivation or time commitments- often the root cause of our failed plans is the fact that we announced them in the first place. 

I went pretty deep into the philosophy and science behind this concept in the entry Build Your Twitch Channel Like You're a Secret Agent, but suffice it to say that telling others about your goals releases the same chemical in your brain as actually achieving that goal. And for most of us who are constantly pressured by stressful lives and generally starved for time, it becomes easy to give up on the goal itself once we've received the initial boost of gratification from announcing it. This ultimate irony is one of the greatest dream killers on Earth. From the moment that idea leaves your lips, it's immediately placed on the executioner's block. If you're not already able to consistently make good on a plan by the time you announce it, then its days are numbered. In this entry, I'll teach you how to avoid announcing your projects too early, so you can more easily stick to your streaming goals. 


When it comes to announcing things prematurely, there are varying degrees of damage which might be caused to our channels. Of course, the most lethal is when someone tells people about a plan before they've even started working it. This ensures that they not only feel accomplishment before actually being accomplished (once again, see the 'Secret Agent' entry for more on this), but they also have no concept of the real-world logistics of putting this plan into action. Think of all the times you or someone you know has announced that they're going to begin working out, build a new business, or write a novel before ever starting to work at it. Now think about how many of those plans ever led to anything concrete. The results are likely pretty grim. The concept of the New Year's Resolution is probably the most common version of this 'announcing before doing' practice, and everyone knows how rarely those are kept up. To attach an actual number to it, 92% of Americans fail to keep their resolutions for a full year, and 80% will give up within the first month. Essentially, if you announce a plan before starting to work on it, you've already signed its death warrant.

Announcing too early can cause
a lot of trouble.

The next logical step here would be to announce something after you've started doing it a few times. At least this ensures that you have a basic understanding of what it takes to put your plan into action. This however, will still typically lead to failure. That's because you're publicly identifying as something you haven't yet proven yourself to be. Doing two streams doesn't necessarily make you a Twitch streamer, it makes you someone who has started Twitch streaming. But if you start to identify as the former before you've proven that you can stick with it, you might just find yourself slacking. After all, everyone already knows you're a Twitch streamer- you told them so, didn't you? You've possibly even received their encouragement about it. Why then, is it so necessary to keep doing the actual streams? After two weeks or a month, when life gets really busy, why not go on an indefinite break from streaming until things calm down? 'Everyone already knows you're a streamer,' your brain tells you. There's no need to work so hard anymore- you've already 'made it.' 

As you can see from this example, the mind is a tricky thing. From the moment you start to identify as someone dedicated to a certain goal or career, the brain no longer cares much about whether or not you actually achieve that goal or land that career. Because it already knows that others see you the way that you want to be seen. Even among established streamers, this deadly principle comes into play all the time. They try some new idea, like a different show format or game to play, and then immediately tell their chat that they're thinking of turning this into a regularly scheduled thing. They make it into a big discussion and ask for feedback about the idea. They draw up beautiful looking schedules and post them to their social media, and they excitedly talk about all the possibilities every chance they get. Then, a month later, this new idea has slowed or even sputtered out completely. Most people on Earth underestimate just how dangerous it can be to overshare. 


So how do you actually tell people about big plans, then? Surely those plans must be announced at some point! It varies based based on your personality and what you're trying to accomplish, but the best way I've found has been to wait until you've been executing on that plan for so long that it's no longer exciting. Then you can announce.

Don't get tricked by the 'honeymoon phase.'

The reason we all feel we need to announce things as soon as the ideas pop into our heads is that we're excited for them. Like with the 'honeymoon phase' in a relationship, we tend to get so blinded by the good qualities and infinite possibilities of our new content ideas, that we completely overlook their flaws and logistical hurdles. None of us are really qualified to know whether we'll be able to stick with some new stream idea until it's passed out of the honeymoon phase. On my streams, I wait until I've done something every day for months before I lock it in as a new addition to the schedule. In previous entries, I've mentioned the Duolingo streams I do, in which I've catalogued my daily journey in learning Japanese. Even when publicly producing these shows, I never promised to my viewers that they would be a regularly scheduled thing. Those streams were just something I happened to do every day. Going even further, I didn't even say when those shows would be going live, and did them quietly in addition to all my other regularly scheduled content. Eventually, after they had been going for 50-100 days without fail, I graduated the language shows from unscheduled 'secret streams' to a mainstay of the channel. 


If you've already announced your idea publicly and are now fearing for its life, don't worry. The best remedy is to simply stop talking about it. Maybe even act as if you don't plan to do it anymore. But behind the scenes, quietly execute on that idea until you know you can deliver results every time without fail. Make your goals into personal quests, not merely things you're doing to impress others. If you want to stick to your streaming plans, don't get your assumptions or dreams mixed up with the practical realities of actual creation. Make something consistently first, and only then should you announce it. 

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