Tools for Success – from one creative to another

Five Tools for Success

The following is an adaptation from Create Your Art Career: Practical Tools, Visualizations, and Self Exploration Exercises for Empowerment and Success, my new book from Allworth Press, an imprint of Sky Horse Publishing that just launched on March 1,2013. Enjoy! 

Information is power. Knowing what you want and understanding the marketplace and what it needs is powerful. With that knowledge in hand, you create a career plan. What are the directions available to you as you pursue your creativity in the workplace? Which one or two of those directions will you choose and why? There are many tools and techniques to put into play to create a successful career. But first, you have to know what you want and what success means to you. It is never too early or too late and you are never too young or too old to adapt, become more knowledgeable, and refine what you want and what you do.

So ask yourself:

  • What does success mean to you?
  • What kind of career do you want?
  • What kind of artwork, service or product do 
  • you want to offer?
  • What would it take to turn your dreams into goals?

Does success mean having work published? Do you see yourself having a large audience? Or a small specialized niche? Do you see yourself telling a great story, a hard story, a story others may not want to hear but needs to be told? Can you imagine that your work brings illumination, understanding, edification and inspiration or confrontation and challenges the ideas of others? 
Does success mean working for yourself on assignment or by commission? Do you see yourself maintaining strong relationships with editors, art buyers, art directors, gallery dealers, agencies, studios? Can you see yourself on staff in a large agency or studio or working for a small start-up? Can you imagine yourself starting your own business?

Does success mean having a commercial gallery represent you and exhibit your work? Does it mean having the space and time to deepen your message and make your work regardless of where it’s shown or if it’s shown? Do you see your work in the street or going viral? Is it for sale to collectors, individuals, galleries, museums or in corporate collections? Can you imagine your work being funded and in public spaces? Does the art world even matter to you? 

Success tool No. 1: Where do you see yourself? 
Close your eyes for a moment. Image your work, and let it be in the world. Where is the first place you see your work? Imagine that people are looking at it; who are they? How does this feel? Go with it for a few moments. Breathe. Imagine you are successful. Imagine you can see yourself being a successful creative in the world. What do you see?

Success tool No. 2: Confirm your own nature and wiring.
Take stock of yourself, be honest and take a good look. Are you independent and inspired? Are you a planner or spontaneous? Are you outgoing and social? Or are you private and quietly determined? Do you need a low-stress environment or a fast pace with pressing deadlines? Confirm your nature, work with your wiring. Success comes to those who know themselves and make choices suited for their temperament as well as their skill set.

Success tool No. 3: What would you do if you couldn’t fail? 
Ask yourself, “What would I do if I couldn’t fail?” What do you need to do to take the first step toward that career? What do you really want most in life and in your career? Can you risk breaking free of options that others have defined for you and step up to the plate? Can the real you stand up?

Success tool No. 4: Turn your dreams into action steps.
Each choice you make, each decision you make can be toward reaching that goal in your heart of hearts. Imagine, each step you take brings you closer toward the dream you have in mind. What is the high road for you? Brainstorm a list of key moves you could take to move you in the direction of your goals. Make a list of action steps, and then add dates to your steps. Put them on your calendar and do them one at a time.

Success tool No. 5: Make conscious choices.
There are many ways to fashion a career from the possibilities in front of you. Know your dreams, but then match yourself to what is real, based on what suits you and what is available. This means you assess your talent, your skills and your education in relationship to each type of career you envision. Take stock of where you are and where you need to get to and make your choices purposeful. Your choices will determine your direction.

Are you—right now—who you want to be? What you dreamed you’d be doing? Can you make new choices to move in a new direction? It’s easy to get caught up in life, in the “busyness” of routine and survival, in the busyness of being busy. Check in with your definition of success and how you see yourself as a creative professional periodically. It can and will change over time. Don’t judge, don’t censor. Go for it and see what comes. Then adapt and try again. Let your dreams become goals and your knowledge lead you to action. When you define what you want to accomplish and when, you have self-determination. And there’s no stopping you. ∞