Saturday, February 12, 2022

The Problem With Buying Before Streaming

Throughout The Twitch Playbook, I’ve often advised against buying things for your channel. I’ve come at it from many different angles, and have perhaps even been pretty convincing in a few entries. But for some of you, especially those who are just now looking to start on their Twitch adventures, this may still seem like a counterintuitive concept. How can we stream without any streaming equipment? In fact, many feel that buying something to start us on our path is the perfect motivator to keep us moving toward our goals. So let’s explore the trajectory of the average hopeful who wants to pick up a habit, whether it be streaming or anything else. 


Let’s say I want to start doing [insert habit here.] First I’ll do some research and buy everything I need. After all, making purchases feels secure. It feels like I’m committing to something. Of course, what could represent commitment more than putting down my hard-earned money? It means there’s no turning back. I’m in it for the long haul. In fact, by making the purchase, I’ve sort of already taken the first step towards my goal. I’ve dipped my toe into the proverbial pool. I mean, it was a pretty large purchase. Maybe I’m actually in the pool already, just by making such a huge commitment! In fact, maybe I miscalculated earlier. Now that I’m thinking about it again, I really did the hardest part by doing the research and buying that stuff, so I might as well have reached my goals already. This is great! I feel really good about myself. Pursuing my passion will be a cinch from here on out! 

But then when it comes time to actually go use that thing I bought, something strange happens. I put it off. “Eh,” I tell myself, “I’m tired today. I’ve already done so much by buying this thing, and then setting it up. I don’t want to overdo it.” Tomorrow comes, but I find I’m just so busy that day that there’s no way I can squeeze in time to put it to use. But of course, having bought the equipment, I already know I’m committed to it. So what’s the problem with going another day without using it? I can use it any time now. After all, I own it!

So this goes on and on. Day after day. Maybe I parade the thing out every once in a while on a lark, but I never really get into a groove using it. And after enough time, I find that it’s been sitting in a corner, collecting dust for years. 

Kratos didn't buy anything and...
Okay, not sure where I'm going with this one. 

This is a story as old as the world. Three thousand years ago, I’m sure some Greek was making the same promises to himself about the new discus he bought to practice for the pentathlon. And one day, archeologists will dig up the remains of a blank stack of parchment, that some poor serf under pharaoh Ramses spent his life savings on. He would have written the Great Egyptian Novel, if only he could bring himself to put down a single hieroglyph. All around us, our friends, relatives and neighbors are doing the same thing every day. They buy expensive cameras to become photographers, home exercise equipment to lose weight, guitars and swathes of accessories for it before ever learning a chord, or a thousand other things. You name a hobby, and sure enough, there’s a major purchase waiting to be made for it. But what does all this have in common? You can almost always start practicing that hobby for free, or at most with a single, much more modest item. If you only focused on what was really important. 


There’s a concept I’ve spoken about before, where telling others about your goals causes you to be less likely to actually follow through with them. As Inc. Magazine described the results of a study performed at a German university, “The researchers concluded that telling people what you want to achieve creates a premature sense of completeness. While you feel a sense of pride in letting people know what you intend to do, that pride doesn't motivate you and can in fact hurt you later on. When you write down or think about your intentions, there's a gap between where you are and where you want to be. The compelling need to close this gap helps you to act on your intentions. But when you let others know about it, the gap closes because you (artificially) feel the same way you should after completing your intentions.” This is why, in entries like Build Your Twitch Channel Like You’re a Secret Agent, I’ve suggested that you not tell anyone about your big project until it’s been underway and going smoothly for a long time. You don’t want to sabotage your motivation before you’ve even started. And as you may have guessed, I believe this exact same phenomenon occurs when purchasing equipment in preparation of starting a new hobby as well. Making those big purchases closes the ‘gap’ that Inc. Magazine described, between where you are and where you want to be. The act of buying gives you a false sense of accomplishment, which can often be enough to dampen your creative spark. 

So if you’re dreaming of becoming a photographer, just take pictures on your phone for a while. If you’re trying to get healthy, work out at home. And if you want to be a Twitch streamer, go live with whatever you already have handy. There are plenty of entries I’ve written already, such as Start Your Twitch Channel With No Money, which can help you do this without any prior skill or resources. Then, when you’ve been streaming for weeks or months without ever missing a day, you’ll be secure enough in your habit to slowly begin adding things to your arsenal without sapping your motivation. Too often, people confuse buying with doing. And while it may seem like you’re making progress by purchasing things prematurely in your streaming adventure, you may in fact be doing just the opposite. So don’t lose sight of your goal. Stream sooner, and leave the purchases for later. 

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