“Be not afraid of going slowly; be afraid only of standing still” an old Chinese proverb and one of my favorite quotes, one I continually come back to. I always interpreted it to mean that we must stay focused on making continual progress, regardless of how small, on our goals. I love the first part of the line “Be not afraid of going slowly..” because thats what I think most of us fear, that we are not making progress fast enough, that we are not seeing returns yet on the hours we have already sunk in. I think a lot of us, or at least I know I do sometimes, fell that little progress is the same as no progress, and that can be depressing. To work as hard as we do and to feel like it is getting us nowhere. But does it really get us nowhere? No, not usually. Putting in the hours will always yield some results, some big, some not so big, but never brush off the small gains. These are the things that help us refine our skills, they are bringing us closer to our goals even if we see it now.
My goal is to make it as a photographer, to be a full time artist. I put in the time every week, driving to different locations, spending hours shooting and even longer editing. I spend countless hours each week trying to get better at marketing my art, running my website, being active on social media and trying to get my art out there. Doing all of this consistently I still have times were weeks go by without selling a single piece or even having someone view it. It makes me start to think “Why am I working this hard?” I’m not always seeing the small steps I am taking towards my goal. The hours shooting and editing are helping me refine my craft and making me a better photographer. the books I read on marketing our giving me more insight on how to get my work seen. These little things add up but we don’t realize it at the time. You have to look back to see how far you came, when I compare myself to where I was a year ago, I notice a big difference. A year ago I was creating completely different material, stuff I wasn’t that proud of, I didn’t have an online shop for my art and had yet to sell single photograph.
This quote always reminds to celebrate those small steps. To be proud that I am moving forward, however slowly, and that I am not standing still. Most importantly, its a reminder that I need to keep going, because as long as you are moving forward you will eventually get where you are going.