Well I’m looking at the calendar and I can’t believe it’s April already. Why the radio silence, what became of the more regular chatty blogs? Well folks, quite simply I’ve been doing a bit of life restructuring and dream following, both at the same time - who says we can’t multi-task.
I’m writing this and wondering how to avoid sounding like a well-meaning but hectoring life coach. The answer is I’m not sure I can but what I’ll do is simply offer you my approach rather than a few glib one size fits all mantras and promise to keep adjusting the tone if I start to stray. Deal?
My dream was to have my own art take a more prominent position in my life with a long-term goal of ultimately retiring as a designer, forever playing catch up in a fast moving arena, and being recognised as a painter and sculptor. Dream on, I can hear the careers officer say. It’s ironic isn’t it, as kids, you were encouraged to “follow your dream” but when you became adults you were told to ‘quit dreaming’ and be realistic.
“Get your feet back on the ground, son
It’s exams that count, not football teams”
Personal circumstances last year prompted the realisation that we are in fact very mortal with no guarantee of what’s around the corner. It encouraged me to take a good look in the unforgiving mirror and re-prioritise what was really important. Asking the big questions: What did I want from life? What would success mean? My long terms ambitions and dreams became more focused and provided the spur to overcome the inertia and question the handy procrastinating excuses. You know the ones: I’m not quite ready /good enough, If only I had more money, It’s not the right time… I’ve heard the ‘waiting for the right time’ referred to as the ‘black dress excuse’ - suits any occasion!
What’s the plan?
- Open my own gallery with design studio within.
- Let design business financially underpin the art side while it takes off.
- Gradually start to adjust the ratio dedicated to design work and artwork as I edge towards my distant retirement and the glue factory.
Anyway promptly spurred on, I set about looking for a new space. I wanted my own gallery, I wanted to continue to work as a designer but surrounded by my work. My plan was to keep overheads the same but with the 24/7 promotion of my artwork in a shop front setting. Very cool. My dream however, wasn’t going to happen just because I wanted it to, I had to make it happen. Time is something that I/we never have enough of. I realised that I had to simplify the design business to release more headspace for creativity. The strategy was to streamline and declutter. In a nutshell: If you don’t need it or it doesn’t serve a useful function - bin it!
“It’s not the daily increase but daily decrease. Hack away at the unessential.”
Here’s a few things I embraced:
- Deregistered for VAT; that quarterly administrative hassle of being an unpaid tax collector for the government.
- Consolidated bills: One provider where possible. One bank account. etc
- Unsubscribed from unnecessary online subscriptions - good for the bank balance too.
- Streamlined services offering, concentrating on my core specialities where I don’t have to rely on other’s expertise.
- Made more space in the diary by learning to say no. Politely and professionally of course!
I found the physical space quite quickly but the mental space took a little longer to create. This side of things will always be a work in progress. A constant reassessing of vision and values to keep things simple and clutter free in a busy chaotic world.
It’s not for everyone
Jeffrey Katzenberg, former CEO of Dreamworks Animation has a different viewpoint which I like.
“Business leaders talk to kids today about follow your dreams, but I’m not actually sure that’s such a great idea,” he said. “How about follow your skill?…I believe every human being does something great. Follow that thing you’re actually really good at and that may become your passion.” Sound advice.
I’m very fortunate that I’ve been able to develop my skills and fulfil my dream but recognise that doesn’t imply that those of us who are quite content with their lives, or have to deal with day-to -day struggles of money, raising a family or otherwise unable to commit to a new path, are somehow devoid of dreams, passion or purpose.
Just to finish up, what non-hectoring life coach advice would I give to anyone about to take the leap? Quite simply - by all means follow your heart if you have the opportunity but don’t forget to engage the head. Think on…
“Sweet dreams are made of this. Who am I to disagree?”