I think I know what you mean. I try to make my photos better by making more complex composition, looking the right moment, and so on - but often I go in this "trap" of effects: making nice shallow bokeh, or swirly bokeh, or using old strange lenses, some other effect - just to get pleasing result in more easy way.
Often I walk and I search, and search and I don't find moments or composition that I have in my head - and I go for this cheaper results. Later I see that I was weak, and actually I don't need any other lens than 50mm f2 that I use on f8 in 90% of time anyhow.