Friday, September 24, 2021

Keep Your Twitch Goals in Sight

When doing anything related to streaming, I always try to keep one phrase in mind: “Don’t miss the forest for the trees.” The grammar of this one can be a bit of a sticking point for some people, but essentially it means we should be careful not to get so consumed in small details (the trees) that we are unable to see the larger picture (the forest). This practice sounds simple, but it’s easier said than done. Every problem has the potential to lead down a new rabbit hole full of minutiae. This is why I try to remind myself before undertaking any new thing that I should keep a broader perspective before exploring any individual concepts. First, what am I trying to solve? Only then will I consider what it takes to solve it.


Instances where streamers often miss the forest for the trees are quite varied. Tech is a common one, as the purchasing and setting up of new equipment is often misconstrued as a necessary step in getting a stream to improve. This is also one of the most popular reasons that streaming hopefuls never start their channels in the first place, because they get so caught up in the fact that they don’t own the right tech that they convince themselves they can’t go live at all. Social channels are another topic I’ve spoken a lot about before. Expanding into a large presence on other platforms too quickly can majorly gum up the works of any Twitch channel. Splitting your time and attention can only detract from the thing you’re primarily trying to focus on, and you shouldn’t do this until you’re absolutely certain you’ll be able to take on such a task with minimal intrusion. Graphics are another one. Streamers often get extremely focused on how their layouts look, or what their subscriber emotes look like, to the point that they invest more of their time and money into getting them just right than they do with their streams. The same goes for channel merchandise- these can be a huge time sink, often for minimal benefit if your following isn’t large enough. The thing about these topics is that they are all important and useful in their own rights: tech, social platforms, graphics and merch can all majorly help your content to get better. But the important part is how and when you focus on them. If they get in the way of streaming in any way, you probably need to re-explore your priorities. 


Odysseus was also responsible for the idea
of the Trojan Horse.

In the ancient Greek story The Odyssey, the hero Odysseus and his crew are forced to sail past an island of sirens on their way home from the Trojan War. For anyone who isn’t familiar with sirens, they’re half-bird, half-woman creatures whose song can lure sailors to their destruction. Odysseus knew that passing them would mean trouble for his band, so he came up with an interesting solution. He plugged the ears of every one of his men with wax, so they wouldn’t be able to hear anything. Then, in order to hear their song himself and live to tell the tale, he had himself tied to the mast of his ship. The song would rob him of his senses for a time, but he would be physically unable to do anything self-destructive about it. By using these two strategies, Odysseus and his crew lived to sail another day. 

In my own experience on Twitch, I find that it’s sometimes necessary to explore solutions like these. There are some things I know I can’t resist, and the only way I’m able to avoid them is to remove my ability to engage with them altogether. After a while using personal social media, I realized that it was wasting my time and mostly feeding me negative influences. So I stopped using Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok and everything in between to focus more on what I actually cared about. Like the sailors who had their ears stuffed with wax to focus on the ship’s navigation, I did the same in order to prioritize my Twitch streams and other life goals. There are two other streaming subjects I’ve historically struggled with in terms of self-control. First, I would spend way too much money buying the newest video games. And second, I would stream for so long that I’d be late for appointments and make others in my life feel like they were no longer priorities. To fix these, I took inspiration from Odysseus himself. Like when he lashed himself to the mast in order to prevent harmful action, I put two strict limits in place. First, I tracked my average monthly spending and never exceeded a modest number. Second, I set a ‘hard out’ for my stream’s ending time, and would never go past it, no matter what. This allowed me to prevent streaming from sabotaging other aspects of my life. And while this may sound like I was de-prioritizing streaming in a certain way, it’s important to consider the bigger picture. If I let streaming kill my finances and relationships, I’d eventually resent the act itself and possibly even give it up altogether. There’s another ‘forest for the trees’ example for you. Sometimes it’s necessary to step back in order to move forward and advance your ultimate goals. 


In certain Middle-earth forests, you may want 
to pay attention to the trees too.

When Alexander the Great entered Phrygia in the 4th Century BC, an oracle had declared that whoever was able to loose an impossibly complex ancient knot, called the Gordian Knot, would become ruler of all Asia. After struggling with the problem for a while, Alexander eventually took out his sword and sliced straight through it. The knot was technically loosed, and Alexander the Great went on to fulfill the prophecy. Nowadays, we use the concept of the Gordian Knot as a metaphor for coming up with easy solutions to complicated problems. Sometimes by thinking outside the box, we’re able to completely bypass many of the steps that may have seemed necessary. I try to apply this thinking to everything I do on Twitch. Anywhere I’m able to save time, money and effort by taking a more efficient route is somewhere I’m able to focus more on actually doing my broadcasts and having fun. In entries like How Low-Tech Items Can Help Your Streams, Simplify Your Streaming Problems, and Reshaping Your Days for Streaming, I helped you to attack your everyday streaming challenges from completely new angles, potentially removing much of the friction that would have been there before. 

I’ve spoken a lot in this resource about the concept of ‘First Principles.’ This involves forgetting everything you think you know about what you’re doing, and breaking the issue down to its simplest components. From there, you can work on a solution from the beginning again, as if you’ve never done it before. This method was originally coined by the modern science community, but Alexander exemplified it without even realizing. The character of Odysseus, with his myriad tricks and solutions, traces back even further. By applying this wisdom of simplicity, you can help your dreams take shape as well. No matter what you’re faced with, always keep your Twitch goals in sight. 

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