I had the privilege of attending a professional development workshop for artists three weeks ago, sponsored by the San Antonio Office of Cultural Affairs. Forty two artists submitted a proposal to the city, including photos of their work, an artist statement, resume and a statement of why they should be chosen. Twenty-four artists were selected to participate. Each artist prepared a 5 minute presentation of themselves and their work. As I watched the other visual artists, performing artists, film makers, writers and musicians in the group, I was both humbled and honored to be a part of such a talented group. Although later, we were given feedback that indicated the instructors felt that most of our presentations could use a lot of improvement. Oh well, isn't that what we were there for?
It was a great workshop that not only provided tools for planning, but also inspired me to think about my art and my career a bit differently. Goal setting was one of the many topics covered in the workshop.
I'm a strong believer in goal-setting and visualization. I remember a quote I heard years ago that really resonated with me (I don't know the source) - "If you can see it in your mind, you can have it in your life." I have always been goal oriented and I usually achieve the goals I have set. I find that just the act of visualizing what I want and writing it down seems to help bring it about.
I needed a week after the workshop to decompress. There was so much information, I didn't feel that my brain was capable of doing any planning at that point. After I had a chance to let the information percolate, I spent a few hours last Sunday contemplating what I want for my future. Not an easy thing to do. It is very easy to get caught up in someone else's definition of success. I tried to focus on the kind of life I want. It brought back a visioning exercise I used to do in the career development workshops I facilitated. It involves visualizing yourself in 10 years, visualizing all aspects of your life - where you live, what kind of house, what people are in your life, what you do with your free time, how much free time you have, what kind of work you do. I haven't done that exercise in about 8 years, and it was very helpful. If you are interested in trying it for yourself, you can download the entire exercise as a Word document.
The workshop was presented by Creative Capital, a national nonprofit organization that supports artists pursuing adventurous and imaginative work in the performing and visual arts, film/video, innovative literature, and emerging fields. The workshop has been described as a "crash course in self-management, strategic planning, fundraising, and promotion." As artists, we often forget that we are a small business. It's easy to overlook the business aspects of our work, because it's not as much fun as being in the studio.
All but one of the instructors were artists, so we had the benefit of learning from their experiences. It was inspiring to hear how they had used the tools in the workshop to achieve their professional goals. Now, I come from the corporate world, in which goal setting and strategic planning are annual activities. I know what I'm supposed to do. I just needed a little kick start.
Do you need a kick-start, too? A great way to start is to think about what you want in your life. Take 10 minutes to visualize your future and remember, "If you can see it in your mind, you can have it in your life."