The fabulous thing about being an artist is that you are entirely responsible for your own productivity, motivation, money generation, creative flow...but this self reliance can also be one of the hardest things...
I wanted to share with you a simple exercise that I have used this year to help keep me (mostly) motivated, (mostly) focused and (mostly) on the right track, incase it might help you too.
It's a deceptively simple tool, yet not necessarily easy. Back in December 2016 - I thought about the year ahead and scribbled some notes in my sketchbook to answer these three questions:
- What do I want to achieve in 2017?
- How do I want to feel in 2017?
- Why do I do what I do?
I found these three questions, very powerful in helping me to think through not just what I wanted to do in the year, but how I wanted to feel about doing it and ultimately the reason I do what I do...
WHAT DO YOU WANT TO ACHIEVE?
Let me share with you, how I answered these three questions, so you can see what I mean. Starting with the "what" question. This was perhaps the easiest list to write as it was more practical and action orientated. Here are some of the things I wanted to achieve in 2017:
- Develop an online class on sketchbooks
- Go to a ceramics class
- Incorporate embroidery into my artworks
- Travel to India
- Rebuild my website to include an online shop
- Try new recipes, experiment with different cuisines
HOW DO YOU WANT TO FEEL?
The second list was definitely harder, but I thought there was real value in articulating how I wanted to feel. I know that one of the tricks of goal setting is to write ambitions in the affirmative, as it they are already a reality, ie "I am xx" rather than... "I really desperately hope that I might someday be xx". So with this in mind, I started off by writing down a list of feelings/ values which were important to me. I played about with them and managed to turn them into 7 short affirmative sentences. Here are four of mine:
- I live a live full of colour, creativity and pattern
- I work hard and try new things
- I embrace my quirky weirdness and stay true to it
- I am grateful for the joy and abundance in my life
WHY DO YOU DO WHAT YOU DO?
This was definitely the hardest thing to even begin to answer, but even having a stab at trying to answer it was quite enlightening. I had to really think about what makes me get out of bed in the morning, why do I do what I do...what is my bigger purpose..I found it very hard indeed.
I wrote this:
"I want to develop my artistic practice and push my creative boundaries so that I can inspire and help others to do the same and make the world a more colourful/joyful place"
I have recently bought Simon Sinek's book on Finding Your Why. This book is meant to help you articulate your why or life mission, I haven't read it yet, when I do, I will no doubt completely re-write the above...
So that was the process I followed this time last year. Just three simple questions. The What, How and Why of my year. I definitely haven't achieved everything I set out to, nowhere near, I have been more grumpy than joyful at times...I'm still writing and developing my online class, I didn't get to India (I did go to Vietnam), BUT I did find the thought process very helpful indeed.
Throughout the whole year I have revisited what I said and it has given me a renewed focus and a wider context to move forward and take actions.
I'm going to follow the same process for this coming year and see what changes. There is something about the start of a new year that I find very appealing. It comes with an inbuilt sense of opportunity, a sense of possibility and newness.
For me, it provides a re-set and a time to reflect, review and re-focus on what I would like to achieve and how I would like my career, life and creative adventure to unfold. Watch this space....