Common challenges I hear often are finding the time and motivation/commitment.

For me, those issues often stem from not having a clear purpose.

The word “PURPOSE” can sometimes feel foreboding and hard to define – something we are constantly in search of but find ever elusive. I find that reviewing the dictionary definition for Purpose helps me. This is what it says:

1.    The reason for which something exists or is done, made, used, etc.
2.    An intended or desired result; end; aim; goal.
3.    Determination; resoluteness.
4.    The subject in hand; the point at issue.
5.    Practical result, effect, or advantage.
6.    To set as an aim, intention, or goal for oneself.
7.    To intend; design.
8.    To resolve (to do something).

After #3 the definitions become somewhat repetitive, so if we look at the first 3 they are:

The Reason:  Why do you do your art?

Intended or Desired Result:  What do you want to accomplish? What does success mean to you?

Determination; resoluteness; resolve:  What needs to happen (the plan) for you to reach those goals?

When what you do can be broken down into each of those items and defined, I find that it helps to maintain excitement and resolve for doing it. You might think that if there isn’t enjoyment, then don’t do it. Creating anything isn’t always pure joy – to get better at anything takes hard work, commitment, and sometimes pushing through the times when you don’t feel like it. Having a clear reason, goal and plan can help you stay on course through the times where it isn’t flowing easily and smoothly.

#1 – Reason

The reason needs to be defined before you can set goals and create an action plan to reach your goals.  Hopefully the root of the reason stems from doing it for yourself because you enjoy it. You may have other reasons beyond that. I write because it gives me joy, fascinates and challenges me, and connects me with myself. I learn more about myself through it. Beyond that I also do it to share a part of me with others in the event it may be helpful for someone else.

#2 – Intended or Desired Result

There are many terms, suggestions, and pre-conceived ideas of how things should be done that are talked about in art circles. As in anything in life, there is no “right” way to do things. Each person’s path to it, why they create art, and their definition of success is different.

Beyond the personal reasons for doing it, some people want to be recognized by their peers or receive a major award, others want it to be their main source of income, while others feel they will have achieved a certain level of success if they get into a specific collection or are featured in a magazine. Some people may not have an intended or desired result beyond self-expression, healing or therapeutic reasons, sharing their work with family and friends, or keeping it for themselves. It may be any number of reasons for you, which may change at any time.

Being clear about your desired result will help you maintain focus for #3.

#3 – Determination & Resoluteness

To make it easier to stay on course, I find that the following actions to be helpful:

  • Set actionable goals

Based on your long-term intended or desired result, what are some goals you can focus on for the current year. For example, if your purpose within the next year is to work on  improving your craft your goals may be to take some workshops, find a mentor who can provide regular feedback, and dedicate more time to it.

  • Write down your goals and share it with someone

This helps to solidify your goals. Put your written goals somewhere you can see and review them every day, such as on the wall of your studio. Then tell someone about your commitment and ask for support to stay on track. This creates accountability and shows a level of commitment to sticking to your goals.

  • Develop an action plan to reach your goals

Lets say your goal is to build up an inventory of work to approach galleries. Figure out how many pieces you want to complete by a certain date, and then break that into how many you need to do each month/week and how much time is required each week/day to achieve that.  (More on action plans in the next article.)

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle