17 – 19 October The Hero’s Journey in Paris: Create Your Own Legend

Attention all creative professionals– even if your chosen profession is not the most traditional one, cultivating and growing a successful, financially rewarding career is still your goal. In this The Hero’s Journey Peter de Kuster provides you in this journey through Paris with stories of creative professionals of past and present with advice on overcoming some of the specific challenges faced by right-brainers who want a career that is both satisfying and successful.

Freelancers, those thinking about changing careers midstream, and even creative people working in corporate environments need a set of skills that will turn their passion into a viable career. These skills include:
* How to chose the career that best suits your talents
* Setting realistic goals using right-brain techniques
* How to avoid the pitfalls that ruin a creative career
* How to schmooze your way to success
* How to create a business plan when you are the business
* How to be disciplined when you are your own boss

When you find an outlet for your creativity in the form of a acting career, you’ll discover a freedom in your working life that you can live with for the long term. You can follow your passion, build a brilliant career, and have financial security — if you know which skills to use. Let Peter show you the way.

About Peter de Kuster

Peter de Kuster is the founder of The Hero’s Journey & Heroine’s Journey project,  a storyteller who helps creative professionals to create careers and lives based on whatever story is most integral to their lives and careers (values, traits, skills and experiences). Peter’s approach combines in-depth storytelling and marketing expertise, and for over 20 years clients have found it effective with a wide range of creative business issues.

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Peter is writer of the series The Heroine’s Journey and Hero’s Journey books, he has an MBA in Marketing,  MBA in Financial Economics and graduated at university in Sociology and Communication Sciences.

What Can I Expect?

Here’s an outline of the Hero’s Journey in Paris:  Create Your Own Legend

Journey Outline

  • Introduction
  • Your Call to Adventure
  • Your Hero’s Journey
  • What’s Right about You?
  • The Right Brain
  • Are You in Your Right Mind?
  • Your Talents
  • Your Obstacles
  • Your Left Brain
  • The Creative Career
  • The Nearly Perfect Job
  • Action Time
  • Your Best
  • We Work
  • Opposing Styles
  • The Creative Life
  • You Have What It Takes
  • Follow Your Bliss
  • We Always Have Paris
  • Finish the Sentence
  • Get it Gift Wrapped
  • Test Your Inner Guide
  • Past Lives
  • Visualize Your Values
  • Values Grid
  • Vocation?
  • The Quest
  • What To Do or Not To Do
  • What Happens Without a Quest?
  • With a Quest
  • Next Step
  • Making Money Doing What You Love
  • What is Your Quest?
  • Choose a Theme
  • First and Goal
  • Time To Dig Some Deeper
  • Spell It Out
  • If You Can See It, You Can Do It
  • Take the First Step
  • Excuses, Excuses
  • Deadlines
  • Out of Focus
  • Bogus
  • It is a Job, Not an Adventure
  • Life as Art
  • Myths about Creative Careers
  • Use an Umbrella
  • Who is Out There? Meet Before You Leap
  • The Zoom Lens
  • Work Backward
  • Beginners Mind

INTRODUCTION

There is no such thing as the perfect career. That is what many people really think, and it is sad, because there are plenty of rewarding, challenging, and fulfilling career opportunities that allow creative people to use their gifts and be rewarded handsomely for their efforts. Those who settle for less than the best simply haven’t found the right job  – yet. You can have it all when it comes to a creative career – if you know how.

The fact is that most people hate their jobs. They would rather be doing something else – anything else. It doesn’t have to be that way. What if I told you that you would never have to work another day in your life? Would you be interested? When you find the right fit in a career, it no longer feels like work. You wake up every day excited abou how you earn your living. This perfect harmonizing of your talents, skills, personality and work style creates a passion and a desire as well as a feeling of contentment that is worth more than gold.

It can all be yours, if you will read this travel guide and apply its principles.

The challenge is that the creative arts are very different from other fields. To go ahead, you sometimes have to zigzag to the top. Let me show you when to zig and when to zag to make the most of the opportunities out there.

Finding contentment in your career is a lot like looking for treasure. Using a map, you embark on a journey, an adventure in search of yourself. The thing is, there isn’t a pot of gold waiting for you when you get to the spot marked ‘X’ on the map. The buried treasure is within you. The pursuit of the gold (or the goal) is the reward. Because, when it comes to a career, there is no ‘there’ there. It is all a search. Enjoying the search is what success is all about.

This is the age of opportunity for the creative person. Innovation and ideas are gold. Ridicule and red tape are being replaced with respect and rewards for the clever and creative person The work environment and job market are changing, and they are changing for the better – for you.  Are you ready for these exciting times ahead? This guide will put you in a position to prosper. What parents, teachers, and bosses might see as problems (sloppiness, habitual tardiness, short attention span, nonconformism) can actually be hidden assets in the search for work in a rewarding and interesting creative career. Intuition, emotion, divergent thinking, daydreaming, thriving on chaos, big picture thinking, cleverness, open-mindedness, and an ability to play and have fun are virtues in the right setting.

Even so it is not exactly easy to build a career in the creative arts. You have to be able to deal with heaping helpings of rejection. It is a part of everyday life for the creative person.

There is also that funny feeling that you don’t quite fit in – and you don’t. Thank God. An unconventional person with unconventional ideas, you are often seen as immature, temperamental, moody, difficult, distracted, irresponsible and irrational.

The truth is, you can be your wonderful self and still get ahead in the corporate world – or work for yourself, as many creative people do. Whichever you choose, this guide will help you manage your career using a whole brain approach that takes advantage of the way you are, without forgetting the way the world works.

YOUR CALL TO ADVENTURE

It is time to move on, move up and move out with a new mission. This guide is about taking charge of your destiny. Be the author of your life story. Its hero.

This guide will show you how to find, create and tell you unique story, and then how to earn a living doing what your love.  You will learn how to overcome the challenges the hero faces, and how to make your nature and your creativity work for you.  You’ll learn how to market yourself and your art even in a crowded marketplace, survive and thrive in the battlefield that is the creative business, be your own boss and work for others, take the ‘free’ out of ‘freelance’, rise to the top without stepping on too many toes, and use your natural abilities to find a perfect pitch and harmony in your story about work.

Your story is your life

There is a direct, undeniable correlation between the story you tell yourself about you and your career and your life story. It is less about what you do for a living than what you can live with doing. Finding fun and fulfillment at work spills over into the rest of your life. Without it, your health will suffer, your creativity will suffer, your work will suffer – and so will everybody around you. You don’t need to live that way.

If you are thinking of giving up on a creative career and getting a ‘real’ job, stop right there. When you settle for less than wat is best for you, you instantly get less than you settled for. Don’t sell yourself short. The regret will eat you up inside. Don’t miss your chance; it may be right around the corner. Instead, get going and go for it  – be bold.

Don’t let others push boulders in your path and fill your head with factoids like ‘most businesses fail in the first year’, ‘it is too competitive out there’, ‘there are NO jobs’, ‘you don’t have enough experience or talent’, ‘only the top can make a living’. It is bad enough that these insecure and misinformed people are telling you why you cannot succeed. It is worse if you believe them. Don’t let anyone talk your dreams down.

This guide is for creative heroes in all walks of life – composers, brand gurus, painters, poets, musicians, magicians, designers or dj’s, writers or actrices. It is not meant to apply to just the glamour jobs; whatever form your creativity takes, you can apply this story.

For everyone who tells you ‘you can’t make a living doing that’ there are hundres of stories of creative people in Paris who found a way to turn something they thought was fun and would even do for free into a fulfilling career.  I will help you take your powerful creative energy and harness it, and you will beat the odds, making a living doing what you love to do. Your life will become a legend. A work of art.

YOUR HERO’S JOURNEY

Few people know what they want to be when they grow up, and even fewer creative people want to grow up. Maybe you won’t discover your true calling until you make some Hero’s Journeys. Testdrives in your dreamjobs by exploring stories of heroes you are interested in. Meeting your rolemodels and interviewing them for the Hero’s Journey.

Is it not better to make a testdrive in your dreamjob, meeting people who do what you believe you will love to do for a living, using that incredible imagination of yours, than waste years on a dead – end job? One of the key things you will work on here is finding and creating your story about what you want to do (not for the rest of your life, but what you want to do now) and eliminating the careers that are not a fit.

The choices that lead to a life of creative expression and financial security are there for the making. The catch is that creative careers are often unconventional and in some cases completely unchartered. The challenge is that there are a million different things you could do.

The key to success in any career is clarity in your story. Becoming clear about who you are and what you want is the first part of this Hero’s Journey in Paris. Then how you get what you want is covered in great detail. It is hard work, but this is your chance to reinvent yourself. Don’t let it pass by you.

WHAT IS RIGHT ABOUT YOU?

Success for a creative hero can be tremendous. Not just in money, but in creative freedom. Look at the list of highest paid entertainers and entrepreneurs, they are all people who don’t fit any mold, but they are also people who used that fact to their benefit.

You can do it, too, in your own way, on your own time, reaching your own goals. Unmire yourself from the myths about creative people. Don’t be afraid to look at your strenghts and weaknesses. Face the fact that traditional business management, which is left brain, logical and linear (not to mention rigid, boring and counterproductive) doesn’t work for you. It isn’t much fun, and if it is not at least a little bit of fun, you are not going to do it. It is that simple. If it is not fast, fun, flexible and easy, you are less likely to embrace it. Be willing to work within a story system as long as it is one you create and one that works with you as well for you.

You Could Be Even More Heroic

Creative heroes can have an insatiable hunger to achieve, create, accomplish. They want to be recognized and heard, receive applause and take home awards. They desire change, to create a body of work, to earn, to make deals. Many people who don’t know what they want actually want too much, too fast.

The key to success is learning how to focus on what is most important. It is counterproductive to try to do too many things at once, nor is it good to focus on only one area of your life. One way to whittle it down (focus) and spread it around (balance) is to have an integrating great story about your life. With one top goal for every area of your life united by your one great story.

Take a good hard look at who you are and what you want from life. Sometimes having everything to be just okay, having an adequate job and a moderate life, is the biggest tragedy of all. Take the time now to find yourself, so you can live your life without getting lost and make good decisions that will lead you to the success and happiness you desire.

We are all born creative. What happens to us from kindergarten to college shapes how much of that creativity stays with us. Some, despite the best efforts of the school system and corporate system to stamp out the creative spirit, slip through the cracks, creativity intact. You are still not safe. Ninety eight percent of the people in the world are living the left brained life. Society tends to reward the left brain (structure, status quo) and reprimand the right brain (chaos, creativity, innovation).

You can stunt your creative spirit with disuse. You cannot lose a talent, but your skills can certainly atrophy. Yet almost any job can be done creatively. Creative careers are everywhere. Entrepreneurs must be creative to survive, managing people can be done creatively, marketing certainly involves a degree of creativity, even distribution can be a right brained affair. What makes any career interesting, exciting, and vital is the creative approach you take to it. Happiness in business comes from finding your greatest gifts and abilities and then developing and using them in the work you do.

The Right Brain 

Creativity and creative careers involve a whole brain story, an interaction between the left hemisphere of your brain (the detail-oriented, accountant side) and the right hemisphere (the big picture, artistic side). The right brain comes up with the ideas and the left brain implements them. Too much right brain and nothing gets done; too much left brain and life is dull and uninspiring.

As a creative professional, you are absolutely unique (and wonderful). There has never been anyone like you and there never will be again. Ponder that for a moment. Beneath all the self-doubt, guilt, fear, remorse and distorted beliefs is a gem of a person who, more than anything, deserves to be happy, successful and fulfilled. To have a career that is rewarding and challenging. A career that fits like a glove and is such a joy that you would do it for free – but is so valuable to others that you are paid well. And why not? You have found your place in the universe, you are making a contribution with your talent and creativity.

Once you understand yourself and what work you enjoy doing, you can work with your natural abilities and tendencies rather than against them. It makes life much easier. This is something that is unique to you. It is what will work best for you. So don’t breeze past the questions in this guide. Make the time to really give some thought to who you are, what you want to do, and what would be the best way to go about doing it. I have always said that to find yourself you need to get lost. you need time for reflection, away from the hustle and bustle of your busy life, to open yourself to new possibilities.

Do you honestly love what you do now? Are you excited to go to work on monday? Do you go home happy? If you answered no to any of these questions, there is a better way.

The following quiz gives you an indication of where your creative tendencies lie – left brain, right brain or whole brain. Answer honestly and quickly. Don’t dwell on the answers and do not try to figure out where we are looking for. There is no ‘right answer’.

  1.  When it comes to emotions
    a.  I can articulate my feelings to others
    b.  I am better at expressing my emotions through my work
  2.   I have always been told  
    a. I would make a great accountant
    b. I was a natural born artist
  3.  Success is
    a. closely related to annual income
    b. unrelated to the money I make
  4.  When trying to explain how I came up with an idea                                                                         a. I am able to put in into terms others can understand                                                            b. I feel like an alien from another planet.
  5.  When I am working on a project                                                                                                          a. I am not happy until it is done                                                                                                       b. I enjoy the process
  6.  It is a beautiful summer day, but I have work to do. I will   a. get my work done first and then go to the beach   b.  go to the beach and deal with my work later
  7. When it comes to a big project, my strength is in seeing  a. The worm’s eye view (details)  b.The bird’s eye view (the big picture)
  8.  When I have several unfinished projects going on at once, I feel  a.  frustrated  b. stimulated
  9. When it comes to decorating my office   a.  I find an arrangement that works and stick with it  b.  I rearrange everything at least every six months
  10.  Multitasking for me is  a. doing two things at once  b.  doodling, talking on the phone, sending an email, searching for a file in a teetering pile of work on my desk, watching a movie, reading a book, and sorting through my mail on Linkedin at once.
  11.  Before I speak   a. I think it through and censor it in my head   b.  I say the first thing that pops into my head
  12. When it comes to problem solving   a.  I analyze things from a logical perspective  b. I consult my ‘gut’ for an answer
  13.  My car is a.  practical and safe  b. stylish and fun to drive
  14.  I am best at remembering  a. names  b. faces
  15.  Whenever there is a crisis in my life,   a.  I retreat into myself and try to solve it on my own b.
  16.  In making decisions,  a.  I tend to focus on the actualities  b. I tend to focus on the possibilities
  17. When someone asks about my vacation  a. I give them names and places and brag about how much I saved on airfare (elapsed time, three minutes)  b.  describe in intricate detail how wonderful it felt to be away, and talk about all the things I saw, the wonderful people I met, and the fun I had (elapsed time, three hours)
  18. I am a natural born   a. learner  b. teacher
  19. If I had two yearlong projects to choose from, I’d pick   a. an analysis of the company’s past and future profit centers  b.  working on the company’s marketing materials
  20. When I meet a prospective client or employer,   a .  I have a written list of questions to cover b. I talk off the top of my head, taking my cue from them
  21. I believe  a. you can make things happen through sheer force of will  b. there is a force in the universe that brings things together
  22. My idea of organization is  a. making a list of all the things to be done and then prioritizing the tasks  b. playing with my Post-it Notes, putting them on the wall in some sort of order
  23. I am ready to leave for work, and  a. I know exactly where my car keys are  b. I go on a search and destroy mission until the keys turn up (in the fridge)
  24. When I log on to the internet, I do it with  a.  a plan and a purpose; get in, get out  b.  a sort of stream of consciousness, pausing to look at whatever catches my fancy
  25.  When researching a project  a.  I find as many books and articles as I can and read them from front to back  b.  I ask someone for tips on the best places to look and skim those

In the above quiz  a. answers count zero,  b. answers count 1. If your total is 8 or less you might read this guide for somebody else because you are a serious left brainer. A total of 9 to 15 indicates a fairly balanced whole brain approach to the world. You will go far if you can learn to loosen up a little. With a total over 15 you can consider yourself a right brainer with all the blessings and curses attached thereto.

THE RIGHT BRAIN

Creativity and creative careers involve a whole brain story, an interaction between the left hemisphere of your brain (the detail-oriented, accountant side) and the right hemisphere (the big picture, artistic side). The right brain comes up with the ideas and the left brain implements them. Too much right brain and nothing gets done; too much left brain and life is dull and uninspiring.

As a creative professional, you are absolutely unique (and wonderful). There has never been anyone like you and there never will be again. Ponder that for a moment. Beneath all the self-doubt, guilt, fear, remorse and distorted beliefs is a gem of a person who, more than anything, deserves to be happy, successful and fulfilled. To have a career that is rewarding and challenging. A career that fits like a glove and is such a joy that you would do it for free – but is so valuable to others that you are paid well. And why not? You have found your place in the universe, you are making a contribution with your talent and creativity.

Once you understand yourself and what work you enjoy doing, you can work with your natural abilities and tendencies rather than against them. It makes life much easier. This is something that is unique to you. It is what will work best for you. So don’t breeze past the questions in this guide. Make the time to really give some thought to who you are, what you want to do, and what would be the best way to go about doing it. I have always said that to find yourself you need to get lost. you need time for reflection, away from the hustle and bustle of your busy life, to open yourself to new possibilities.

Do you honestly love what you do now? Are you excited to go to work on monday? Do you go home happy? If you answered no to any of these questions, there is a better way.

ARE YOU IN YOUR RIGHT MIND?

The following quiz gives you an indication of where your creative tendencies lie – left brain, right brain or whole brain. Answer honestly and quickly. Don’t dwell on the answers and do not try to figure out where we are looking for. There is no ‘right answer’.

  1.  When it comes to emotions
    a.  I can articulate my feelings to others
    b.  I am better at expressing my emotions through my work
  2.   I have always been told  
    a. I would make a great accountant
    b. I was a natural born artist
  3.  Success is
    a. closely related to annual income
    b. unrelated to the money I make
  4.  When trying to explain how I came up with an idea                                                                         a. I am able to put in into terms others can understand                                                            b. I feel like an alien from another planet.
  5.  When I am working on a project                                                                                                          a. I am not happy until it is done                                                                                                       b. I enjoy the process
  6.  It is a beautiful summer day, but I have work to do. I will   a. get my work done first and then go to the beach   b.  go to the beach and deal with my work later
  7. When it comes to a big project, my strength is in seeing  a. The worm’s eye view (details)  b.The bird’s eye view (the big picture)
  8.  When I have several unfinished projects going on at once, I feel  a.  frustrated  b. stimulated
  9. When it comes to decorating my office   a.  I find an arrangement that works and stick with it  b.  I rearrange everything at least every six months
  10.  Multitasking for me is  a. doing two things at once  b.  doodling, talking on the phone, sending an email, searching for a file in a teetering pile of work on my desk, watching a movie, reading a book, and sorting through my mail on Linkedin at once.
  11.  Before I speak   a. I think it through and censor it in my head   b.  I say the first thing that pops into my head
  12. When it comes to problem solving   a.  I analyze things from a logical perspective  b. I consult my ‘gut’ for an answer
  13.  My car is a.  practical and safe  b. stylish and fun to drive
  14.  I am best at remembering  a. names  b. faces
  15.  Whenever there is a crisis in my life,   a.  I retreat into myself and try to solve it on my own b.
  16.  In making decisions,  a.  I tend to focus on the actualities  b. I tend to focus on the possibilities
  17. When someone asks about my vacation  a. I give them names and places and brag about how much I saved on airfare (elapsed time, three minutes)  b.  describe in intricate detail how wonderful it felt to be away, and talk about all the things I saw, the wonderful people I met, and the fun I had (elapsed time, three hours)
  18. I am a natural born   a. learner  b. teacher
  19. If I had two yearlong projects to choose from, I’d pick   a. an analysis of the company’s past and future profit centers  b.  working on the company’s marketing materials
  20. When I meet a prospective client or employer,   a .  I have a written list of questions to cover b. I talk off the top of my head, taking my cue from them
  21. I believe  a. you can make things happen through sheer force of will  b. there is a force in the universe that brings things together
  22. My idea of organization is  a. making a list of all the things to be done and then prioritizing the tasks  b. playing with my Post-it Notes, putting them on the wall in some sort of order
  23. I am ready to leave for work, and  a. I know exactly where my car keys are  b. I go on a search and destroy mission until the keys turn up (in the fridge)
  24. When I log on to the internet, I do it with  a.  a plan and a purpose; get in, get out  b.  a sort of stream of consciousness, pausing to look at whatever catches my fancy
  25.  When researching a project  a.  I find as many books and articles as I can and read them from front to back  b.  I ask someone for tips on the best places to look and skim those

In the above quiz  a. answers count zero,  b. answers count 1. If your total is 8 or less you might read this guide for somebody else because you are a serious left brainer. A total of 9 to 15 indicates a fairly balanced whole brain approach to the world. You will go far if you can learn to loosen up a little. With a total over 15 you can consider yourself a right brainer with all the blessings and curses attached thereto.

YOUR TALENTS

Many studies have shown that the creative person is more intelligent and scores higher in tests than do lawyers and doctors. While nobody uses only their right brain or left brain, most creatives tend to rely heavily on their right brains – the source of their creativity. Because of that, many of the following statements will apply to you. Even whole brainers (those who operate equally from both hemispheres) will see some of themselves here, often tempered by the logical, stabilizing influence of the left brain.

The creative hero is able to compare and combine two things that are not usually related. The creative mind is not limited by normal boundaries, and so can see relationships that aren’t obvious to others.

The creative hero sees abstract concepts and then is able to express them in concrete terms.

The creative hero tends to have rich and vivid memories. Right brainers are able to remember faces and places, but aren’t so hot at namesand titles. They retain images better than words. They remember themes and scenes from movies, but not the names or the director. The right brain remembers feelings – good and bad.

Creative heroes have the pioneering spirit that it takes to do things differently, regardless of the grief they may take from (and give to) others. They are eager to go where nobody has gone before. The great unknown is more interesting and inspiring than the safe and secure. It is intoxicating to be involved with an idea on the ground leven. The early stages of the creative process are magical, where anything is possible and reality is way off in the distance.

Creative heroes welcome challenges. They are able to see the big picture and tackle problems on a global scale. They use intuition rather than facts and figures to find new and better solutions.

Although creative heroes may be in touch with trends, they are more likely to start trends. They are leaders, not followers. They are flexible. Passionate. Tenacious. When it comes to getting their ideas or their pet projects made they can be relentless.

Creative heroes are open minded and less prone to prejudice. Creatives often have high ethical and moral standards. Gray matter thinkers in a black – and – white world, they often see more than one right answer and maybe even more than one question.

The successful idea person has some way to capture ideas and refer back to them later.

Creative heroes are obsessed with their work and improving their skills and abilities. 

YOUR OBSTACLES

Sometimes speaking without thinking, as in a brainstorming session, is perfectly acceptable. Sometimes creative heroes forget where brainstorming ends and real life begins, however.  Saying the first thing that comes into mind makes people uncomfortable.

Creative heroes feel things more deeply than most other people do. It is trying to verbally communicate those feelings to others that gets them tongue-tied. That is why they create, to express what they are feeling through their work. So maybe that is not a bad obstacle.

Creative heroes can be impulsive. That live-for-today attitude and ‘being in the moment’ works for the artist in them, but to succeed, they have got to give some thought to the future. There can be long term consequences when they play now and pay later.

Divergent thinkers often go off on tangents, and are frequently seen as scatterbrained. It is hard to concentrate when you are not inspired or interested. It takes discipline to get started and stick with the business side of creative business. Creatives can work harder than anybody if they find something they love to do. They just have a hard time learning to love math, taxes, regular business hours and client follow up.

Leaping ahead, seeing the big picture, creatives lose those people who want to take it step by step and see things in black and white. Sometimes this makes them angry. Creative heroes spend a lot of time dealing (or not dealing) with frustration.

For creative heroes, all play has a purpose – it is fun. This attitude makes them seem immature. Left brainers like rules, a purpose, and a plan, even for play, and worse, they need a reason to do it.

Creative heroes tend to be sloppy. Not disorganized, just not organized in a way that an anal-retentive, uptight, left brained person would like them to be. Many creatives feel neatness is a waste of time.

Creative heroes are particularly vulnerable to the ‘they are going to find me out any minute” syndrome. They may be confident about their work, but not about themselves. Insecurity often rules them.

Alcoholism, drug addiction, depression – all are very real dangers for the creative heroine. Although right brainers are not necessarily self destructive, they are prone to overindulgence, which can lead to the same thing.

Creative heroes high ideals may make them inflexible. Many creative heroes are frustrated by the requirements of the commercial world.

Creative heroes tend to have short attention spans, which means multitasking is second nature.

Creative heroes procrastinate. Procrastination is a problem for people whose attention span is short and whose interest scope is broad. They like to have several projects going at once, and switch off whenever they reach the point of boredom and burnout.

Creative heroes don’t like to be told how to do it. But they are also very clever if you just tell them what you want and leave them to their own devices.

YOUR LEFT BRAIN

Each side of the brain processes information, but the two side process it differently. You’re always using both sides of your brain; we use the term ŕight brainer’and ‘left brainer’ as a matter of convenience. It is a question of emphasis. The left brain is the timekeeper, the organizer, the linear thinker. Because of it, you are able to get things done – and done on time. Being resourceful and resilient and sticking with something until it is completed requires a lot of left brained thinking.

The left brain is logical, neat and orderly, a built in editor and critic. It is quite maddening really. But we need this serious, buttoned down side to take care of all the things the right brain simply does not deal with, among those things is time management. The left brain can be a little compulsive though. It will do the same thing the same way every time.

While the right brain can get you lost in the world, the left brain can get you lost in the details. Still your left brain is not your enemy. It will get you w here you want to go, and it will get you there without wasting time or energy. It is the goal setter, the action hero, the muscle man.

THE CREATIVE CAREER

Living in a left brained world is not easy when you operate in the creative way – that is the right brained way.  It is easy to feel trapped by a mortgage, car payments, a retirement plan. But going against your own nature, your instincts and your talents turns out to be the worst possible way to live your life. You end up with ulcers, depression, deep – seated anger.

Finding the career path that matches what you enjoy doing and do well makes more sense. I say – make a run for it. Find out what makes you happy and fits as it should, showing off your assets.

A good fit – in a career as well as a pair of jeans – is different for different people. Some like them loose and baggy, some formfitting. It is a personal thing. All I know is, I would never send anybody else out to buy me my car, clothes, furniture. The same goes with your career. Only you know what will work for you.

For some creative heroes, networking is a dirty word. For others it is a never ending source of inspiration. There are plenty of examples of famous creatives who crave seclusion. No naysayers, no distractions, no naysayers, no phones, no needy people. NO NAYSAYERS.

Creative heroes do more than their job title requires – they can’t just help it. They want the education, experience and exhilaration of doing something different, so they don’t confirm to strict parameters. The creative career is no walk in the park, even for the most talented. Audiences are fickle, deals are tough to come by, and the pay is not always what it should be. You need to be clear about what you want, and you have to want it badly enough to work hard, but you can make it.

No creative job is perfect. The trick is to find a job with imperfections you can tolerate. You may be willing to work from nine to five for the opportunity to be involved in an exciting project. You may put up with a mountain of bureaucratic bull so you can work with people you respect and admire.

THE NEARLY PERFECT JOB

No job is perfect. The trick is to find a job with imperfections you can tolerate. You may be willing to work from nine to five for the opportunity to be involved in an exciting project or to  have the protection of a top notch health plan. You may put up with a mountain of bureaucratic bull so you can work with people you respect and admire. You may manage to get along with a nitpicking, anal retentive, narrow minded knownothing pipsqueak of a boss in exchange for the gratification of producing work you can be proud of.

Action:

List the things you tolerate in your current job. Then, beside each item, list the trade off (the thing that makes you willing to put up with it).

Take a look at your list. Do future or possible benefits outnumber the here and now benefits? Do the negatives outweigh the positives, or have you achieved a balance? At what cost?

Most of us make unconscious choices about what we can live with. Sometimes you make the wrong choices, and these are damaging your spirit and your future. Go back to your list again and choose. Think about it. You will always have to tolerate things you don’t like in this life, but you don’t have to tolerate everything. Pick your battles but don’t be afraid to fight when you need to.

ACTION TIME

List the things you tolerate in your current job. Then, beside each item, list the trade off (the thing that makes you willing to put up with it).

Take a look at your list. Do future or possible benefits outnumber the here and now benefits? Do the negatives outweigh the positives, or have you achieved a balance? At what cost?

Most of us make unconscious choices about what we can live with. Sometimes you make the wrong choices, and these are damaging your spirit and your future. Go back to your list again and choose. Think about it. You will always have to tolerate things you don’t like in this life, but you don’t have to tolerate everything. Pick your battles but don’t be afraid to fight when you need to.

YOUR BEST

Nobody can motivate you. You must be self motivated to make it. In any career, you are the boss. If you don’t feel like working for weeks at a stretch, nobody will shoot you. But there is always a price.

The creative hero works well in a relaxed environment. That could be a casual corporate structure, a close – knit small company, or off alone in a cubbyhole somewhere. Freedom, individuality and being able to be yourself are serious issues for you, wherever you choose to work.

You will find you have boundless energy when you are in a creative flow. It is amazing the number of hours you can spend, the attention to detail you can muster, and the ideas you can come up with when interested. Conversely, if you are not interested it is almost impossible for you to focus, and you feel as if someone unplugged you from your power supply.  You want to create something, you may make less many, you may work longer hours, you may spend a lot of energy networking and following up on contacts – but it is all worth it to have a chance at life, at contributing something positive to the world you live in.

Creative heroes need constant input and stimulation. An environment with all kinds of interesting things. Don’t settle for a sterile office. You cannot work that way. There is a certain lifestyle that appeals to a right brainer, one that involves experimentation, swapping, multiple positions, passion, excitement and stimulation, variety, visual input, feeling and compassion, connection and expression. For the creative person there is real value in learning and growth as well as self-expression, freedom and flexibility in work.

WEWORK

Research shows that the creative person likes to work with other creative people. Yet many times you are forced to work with your exact opposite.

Maybe these left brainers are close minded and uptight, but they are also bright in their own way. You can find fault with the noncreative person for not seeing the big picture, for refusing to trust your instincts, for playing it safe and avoiding risk as if it were the flu. But they see you in a different light than you see yourself. They see you as a freewheeling good time ….. who is out of control. A high maintenance pain in the ess. They see emotional, defensive, and overly sensitive. It is no wonder they come down on you so hard.

It may seem as though we live in different worlds, but everything actually works together quite well. We come up with the ideas and innovations, and they produce the products. We make art, and they make budgets and do cost analysis. We take an aesthetic approach and they approach with suspicion. We want to put soul into it and create something meaningful and the want to sell it to some guy they know and make meaningful money from marketing it.

If you work together, you can create magic. They can bring your ideas to life and find ways to market them to the masses. So whwat if they are motivated by the money and you are driven by the design? A balance between the two is not such a bad thing – usually. For you the work is its own reward, but you are not immune to the appeal of a little outside recognition. That comes from seeing things come to fruition – which often takes the help of your left brain friends. It can be quite motivating to be able to have a bigger budget, better equipment, and a ton of technical ‘toys’. This takes money, though. Lots of money. Money raised by your other half.

Both sides do best when they take advantage of their strenghts. The world needs unorthodox  people with slightly skewed perspectives to deal with the continuing challenges that nature throws at us. So if you are misunderstood, try communicating rather than caving in.

OPPOSING STYLES

Left Brainer                                                         Right Brainer

Inch by inch                                                          Do it when it is down the wire

One track mind                                                    Variety is the spice of life

Life is a bitch                                                        Life is a journey

Rule maker                                                           Rule breaker

Make it profitable                                               Make it beautiful

Worm’s eye view                                                Bird’s eye view

Office like an operating room                          Office like a kindergarten room

Do it right now                                                    Do it right

Number cruncher                                              Paint by the numbers

To do list                                                              To be list

Better safe than sorry                                       Playing it safe is sorry

THE CREATIVE LIFE

Judgmental people may complain about your short attention span, calling you scatterbrained, lazy, a slob, a flake, self centered, cynical, impatient and so on. It takes a toll on even the most secure, and some start believing it. Don’t let that be you. Fight back. Remember that you are special – one of 2 percent of the adult population. Remember that you see a bigger world than they do, and move ons.

Being an unconventional person in a conventional world is a small price to pay for the joy of being a creative person. Wear it as a badge of honor. You are one of the chosen ones. Innovators throughout time have come under constant attack from critics. What it boils down to is fear and jealousy. They will never have what you have. They will never be what you can be.

There is always a bigger risk of failure when you branch out, but i’d rather risk it. It keeps me from falling asleep. There are a lot of risks involved with following a creative career path. Rewards don’t come without risks, and it is fortunate that the right brainer is built to be able to withstand the pressures. The option is to sit at home and watch others living their dreams on TV. It is not a hard choice but it is one you have to make.

Van Gogh sold one painting in his lifetime, but he didn’t give up. He died poor and living on his brother’s generosity, but he didn’t quit. Taking a risk means you could lose. There are no guarantees.

To make it in the creative business, you must have that fire in the belly, that burning desire to succeed. You must believe that no matter what the odds, no matter what others say, you will persevere. You will do what it takes. You will learn to do the business stuff, the networking, the bookkeeping, the planning and scutwork. You will bounce back from rejection, depression and obsession. Because disappointments, highs and lows and critics are everywhere. Not everything will feel like a masterpiece (or even be well received). In a way that is good. You will keep trying to improve.

YOU HAVE WHAT IT TAKES

When someone says to me, “Everything happens fo a reason’  I say ‘Yes, but is it your reason’.  Life is not an accident. Through careful choices and persistent planning, you can control what happens to you. That sounds boring, doesn’t it. We are talking about your future. The best way to deal with the future is to invent it!

What could be more exciting than trying to figure out what you want to have happen and ‘make it happen’.  If you live your life wandering around aimlessly, you are not likely to end up anywhere at all. If you live your life bouncing around, reacting to events and circumstances, you are giving up control over where you will go next. This is not an ideal way to live – it’s stressful and not creative at all.

I believe that each of us comes prepackaged with a reason for being, a quest. Unfortunately there is no operating manual or help line to make it easy to figure out what that quest is. Once you figure it out, however, life is sooo much easier and better. It means that you are living on purpose. This translates to doing the right work, in the right environment, with the right people and using your talents and abilities in a way that benefits others as well as yourself. This quest covers every aspect of your life, including having people to love and who care about you.

You need a compass to navigate by, a North Star to aim for (your quest, mission, purpose) and a map so you can plot out the best (and even the most scenic route, if that turns you on) way to get where you are going (your goals). You can get blown off course and explore new islands, meet interesting people in faraway lands …. but you always have that North Star to guide you back. That is what your quest does for you.

FOLLOW YOUR BLISS

When you aren’t sure about what you should be doing with your life, it can feel like you’re in free fall. For some, the rush of hurtling to the ground at terminal velocity is exhilarating. Some don’t even seem to realize that they don’t have anything (a parachute) to stop them from hitting the ground and going splat. In the beginning, it can be exciting to go through life without a plan or purpose. Many romantic tales are written by people who disciplined themselves not just enough to put pen to paper, but enough to sell their stories for publication.

Being in control of your life means knowing what you want and working toward it. It means waking up every morning saying ‘I have got the best job in the world, I absolutely love what I do. If you can say that, everything else in your life will fall into place.

Some people know early on what they want. They are the lucky ones. Most of us struggle for a while before we find our niche. That is okay. Enjoy the struggle. Consider it a voyage of discovery with a treasure at the end Self knowledge is a wonderful thing.

WE ALWAYS HAVE PARIS

How to Find yourself When You Didn’t Know You Were Lost

Before you can figure out your niche in the creative scheme of things, you need to understand yourself, your strengths and weaknesses, your true desires, your personal definition of success. The following questions are designed to make you think about yourself from various angles. Answer them quickly. Put down the first thing that pops into your mind (before your left brain has a chance to butt in). Don’t analyze either the questions or the answers. Be honest – nobody ever has to see this but you. Now, quick and dirty:

Private

  •  What is your favorite time of year?
  •  What is your favorite hobby?
  •  Where is your favorite getaway spot? When was the last time you went there?
  •  What social settings bring out the best in you? Worst in you?
  •  What is your best personality trait? Worst? How would your spouse/best friend answer that?
  •  What one thing would you most like to change about your personality?
  •  Make a list of your friends and look for common qualities they all share. Next, list the people you absolutely loathe. What qualities do they share?
  • Are you a country mouse or a city mouse? Do you like more a laid back lifestyle or one that is frantic and fast paced?
  •  Are you more comfortable competing against others or against yourself?
  • Which is more you – safe and secure or reckless and risky?
  • Which would you rather be – healthy and wealthy or healthy and wise?

Professional

  •  Do  you want more or less travel in your work?
  •  Where would you like to go? Would you travel by land, sea or air?
  •  Would you like to do more or less public speaking in your work?
  •  How much money as an annual salary would make you feel more successful?
  • Do you prefer to work with your hands or your mind? Indoors or outdoors? With people or with things?  (Can’t say both. Just state a preference, even if it is marginal)
  • Which is more challenging, dealing with difficult people or difficult problems?
  • What bores you?
  • What would you eliminate from your description of what work you do if you could?
  • Do you like to be in charge? Or do you prefer to be the power behind the throne?
  • What do you like best about your work?
  • If you could have anyone’s job in the world, whose would it be?
  • What is the most undesirable job you can think of?
  • When do you prefer to work – morning, noon or night? When would you rather not work? What days would you like to h ave off? What would be an ideal work schedule for you?
  • What would you like to bring to work that you can’t? Kid? Dog? Stereo?
  • Do you prefer to work alone or in a group? How much of your day would you like to spend dealing with people, and how much would you like to be left alone?
  • How many projects can you handle at once?
  • Do you prefer stretches where you work like crazy and then take a break, or do you like to pace yourself and limit your projects?
  • Which best describes the environment you would prefer to work in: at home, in a lab, in a studio, outside, in an office, on the road, on a set, in a studio, in a cafe, in a tall building, in front of an office, or some other situation? Big city or small town, or small city/big town?
  • Do you prefer to deal in concepts or projects? Which is more satisfying, the process or the product?
  • List jobs you think you would enjoy doing.
  • List jobs you think you could not and/or would not do
  • What skills do you like to use the most?
  • What task or talent comes easily to you?
  • Name something that is always a struggle to do.
  • What type of people do you enjoy working with the most?
  •  Do you prefer to work at a fast pace or to pace yourself?
  • Do you like every day to be different, or do you prefer to slip into a consistent and comfortable routine?
  • Which motivates you more, money or a mission?

FINISH THE SENTENCE

Let’s play ‘finish the sentence’ Let your intuition be your guide. Go with your gut.

  • I have no trouble focusing on…
  • My idea of the perfect day is…
  • The most fun I can have with my clothes on is….
  • The perfect attire to work in is…
  • My dream is to….
  • I have always wanted to…
  • I am looking forward to…
  • I wish I could do …. more often
  • I know I have a talent for
  • I feel fantastic when I am …

Honest answers

  •  This turns me on:
  • This touches me deeply:
  • This is the thing I value the most:
  • This draws out the best in me:
  • This is the person I would most like to meet:
  • This is the one thing I would most like to change about my community:
  •  This is the best thing I can do to serve others:
  • This is the kind of work I would do for free:
  • This is the thing I feel most passionately about:
  • This is the thing that bothers me the most:
  • This is the one subject I could study forever:
  • This is the one thing I get complimented on the most:
  • This is the thing that  makes me smile the most:
  • This is the activity that gives me the most pleasure:
  • This is the time in my life when I felt really good:
  • This is the thing I do where time flies:
  • This is the nicest thing anyone ever said to me:
  • This is the thing people most ask for my help with:
  •  This is the one thing I could do all day, every day.

GET IT GIFT WRAPPED

People spend their whole lives working against their strengths. It is like swimming against the current. Go with the flow and use what God gave you. Your best chance for success is to selet a career that allows you to use your talents and do the things you most enjoy doing. All too many people believe that if you’re getting paid for it, it is work. And work is the opposite of fun. Which is why they make vacations – so you can put your life on hold for fifty weeks a year and stuff all your fun into that precious two weeks. Which is why they have sick days. Because you are sick if you think this is any way to live.

If you do what you enjoy doing and are good at it, you will be stronger and happier. Vacations will be icing on the cake.

So you are no Voltaire. Ah, but you are you, and no good can come from comparing yourself with others. Believe in your own special gifts, talents, and abilities and use them to earn a living as well as fulfill your life.

ACTION ITEMS

  •  List ten adjectives to describe your top skills and abilities. What makes you great?
  •  List your top ten skills. Now, of those skills, which would someone pay you for?  How could you earn a living using these skills?
  •  What can you do to increase your marketable skills? Training, practice, gaining  practical experience, or learning new equipment? What is the one thing you are willing to do to improve upon your existing talent?
  •  Put all your talents on index cards, one skill per card. Then shuffle the cards and punt them into orde by the skills you like to use most. Write down the result. Now reshuffle and put them in order by which ones are most marketable. Finally, put them in order by what you do best. Compare your three lists.
  • What is the thing you do that comes most naturally? Could you make a living doing just that? Has anyone else made it a cornerstone to a successful career?

TEST YOUR INNER GUIDE

You have an inner guide (if you’ll pay attention to it).  It is a little voice. It is seldom very loud, but there is a lot of wisom in there.  So, as you answer the following questions, run them by your inner guide. Don’t think about your answers for more than a second or two. Use your intuition. Don’t give your left brain (logic brain) a chance to censor your real response.

You don’t have to be precise at this point. This exercise is just to determine a general direction or essence of what you want and where you want to go in your career. It helps to be in a relaxed state so that the messages from our inner guide can get through. The answers may come to you in words, symbols, dreams, visions or ideas. Pay attention to your answers and don’t discount them, even if they seem outlandish.

Go for it.

  • Sometimes figuring out what you don’t want to do in your career or life is easier (and as valuable) as trying to discover what you do want. With that thought in mind, make a list of all the things that turn you off when it comes to a career.
  • Along the same lines, what path have you been trying to avoid? (Sometimes this is the one path that you should pursue).
  • What is the one thing you would not do for any amount of money?
  • Have you ever had an epiphany about what you should do with your life, but chose to ignore it? What is it you contemplated doing? Create your own job description. (Don’t limit yourself here. Don’t think about risks. Fantasize. Enjoy).
  •  If you knew you would live to one hundred (without wrinkles and/or Depends) what would you do differently (we are talking career and/or education)? If you had only six months to live, what would you do differently? What would you do the same?
  • What trait or talent do you think is most valuable?
  • How do you like to express your creativity? What forms does it take?
  • What is your biggest regret?
  • What rules would you want to live by?
  • What is the one thing missing from your life?
  • Finish this sentence “A successful person is someone who …”
  • Whom do you most admire? Why?
  •  Think back to when you were a kid, and try to recall what you most enjoyed doing. Look back at an old scrapbook or photo album. (Is it a coincidence that I was my local library’s Bookworm of the Year when I was young?).  I read more books than anyone else in my neighborhood.
  • What do you see as your role in life?
  • What cause are you most committed to?
  • What do you stand for?
  • How can you make a difference?
  • What can you do that would give you the greatest sense of importance, well being and self worth?
  • What person would you most like to meet/work with in your career?

PAST LIVES

Take a look at your past life as if it were a world away, in another dimension. What things worked for you, and what things did not? What did you do that helped you to succeed? What lessons did you learn from past missteps? If you retrace your steps this way, there are clues about what will work in the future. As the saying goes, “If you keep doing what you have always done, you keep getting what you have always gotten.” That doesn’t mean you should throw the baby out with the bathwater.  Keep doing what you always done that has worked. But take a dispassionate look at your life and career. Be honest about the areas you are unhappy with. Don’t worry about blame. Just try to see where it went wrong so you can find ways to go right in this life.

  •  Write your life story from beginning (looking back) to end (as if you are very old and have already achieved all the things you want).
  •  What is something that makes you say to yourself (and others), ‘I will never do that again?” (I’m not talking about a hangover).
  • List five boneheaded things you can remember doing. Now list five things you did well in the past. Which list came faster? Which was easier to compile?
  • Look at your past life and ask yourself these questions: What do I wish I had done but did not do? What have I always wanted to do but never got around to doing?
  • What are your most powerful memories from childhood, teenage years, and adulthood? Take a close look at the three memories. What do they have in common? What are the circumstances, the people involved, the tasks you were performing, the setting, the time of year?
  • List your most rewarding life experiences (paid and unpaid). Are you still engaging in these activities? If not. why not? How can you bring these things back into your life?
  • It is important to appreciate all the things you have and all the things you are. The more you appreciate all the things you have going for you, the more you love life. Start small: your work, a place to live, money in the bank, people who love you.
  • Describe yourself as a cross between two celebrities.
  • Write your own autobiography, or compile a collage or video of your past accomplishments.
  • Draw yourself in your picture – perfect day. Put in as much detail as you can. Spend some time and thought on this one. Then pin it up where you’ll see it often. This is where you want to live your future life. This is where you’re going.
  • Take a snapshot of your life today. Do you like what you do for a living? Are you happy? Are you using your talents? Are you able to create? Do you enjoy waking up on weekday morning? Is it good to be home?
  • Do you have enough money? Do you have a goal for the future?

This is hard work. But no matter how you do this, you must do it honestly. Learn to dream aloud. It is the only way to make those dreams come true.

VISUALISE YOUR VALUES

As a creative professional you are less able to separate your work and your life than most people. You cannot ignore your values when looking at a career path. Your values, your needs as a person, should direct that path. Should point you toward the right career for you. You can’t be a success if you don’t know what success means to you. And you can’t be a success unless you incorporate your value system into every phase of your life.

Unused talent is not just a waste. It is a poison. The symptoms are boredom, low energy, stress depression, envy. If you recognize these symptoms in yourself, it is time to do a little soul searching. You are not doing what you should be doing, okay, got that. But what should you be doing? The following exercises might help you figure that out:

  1.  Make a talent map. Start by looking back to when you were young. Plot your talents on a visual time line or map at the ages of five, ten, fifteen and twenty. Use pictures, drawings or key words to represent each phase or age and your talents at that time.
  2. Make a value tree. Draw a tree trunk and then extend branches off in all directions. In the trunk, write your biggest belief about yourself and what your life should be. In other words, your key overriding value. On the branches, write the rest of your values. Hanging from each branch, draw a fruit and put in it how the values manifest themselves. For example, in your tree trunk would be something like ‘freedom’ as your core value. Then the branches might be labeled ‘ability’ and ‘respect’ or ‘friends’ and ‘family’.  The fruit hanging down from the ‘respect’ branch might be ‘fame’ and ‘money’ or ‘honesty’ and ‘integrity’.

VALUES GRID

Self realization is the first step in choosing a general direction for your life, one that will bring you happiness and peache of mind – in tune with what you really want, deep down. When you figure that out, you have taken the biggest step toward getting it. In the following exercise, you will end up with a top value for each area of your life, and a clearer understanding of who you are and what is most important to you.

You may suffer inner turmoil when your goals or actions go against your values.  If you want to be a great parent but take a job that requires a lot of travel, value integrity but lie and cheat, value marriage but are too busy flirting with others or working, value creativity but never make time to create, you will feel anxiety and unease, conflict and discomfort, anger and resentment.

Cross out each value you can live without:

Children, Career, Freedom, Recognition, Financial security, Friendships, Adventure, Challenge, Creativity, Integrity, Joy, Power, Inner peace,  Order, Education, Family, True love, Fun, Hobbies, Free time, Happiness, Loyalty, Integrity, Spirituality, Trust, Significance, Excellence, Helping others, Kindness, Independence, Profit, Passion, Position, Wealth, Health, Fitness, Respect, Fame, Blance, Travel, Job security, Home, Awards, Tranquility, Other:

Go through the list again and cross out as many as you can. Now get tough, get down to your top ten values. Come back to this list in two days and narrow it down to your top five. Write them down. Now check your list of values against the career you think you want, and make sure there is no conflict between the two. If there is, rethink the kind of work you should be doing.

VOCATION?

“Where your talents and the needs of the world cross, there lies your vocation” Aristotle said. The same can be said about going into business for yourself. Finding  your niche and then filling it as a freelancer may seem like the best way to go for the right – brainer. There is a downside to doing it yourself, however, and what seems like a good idea at first may become a nightmare. I think it is the only way to fly, but others find it frustrating.

It takes a certain kind of breed to make it in business for yourself. First and foremost, it takes a lot of hard word. There is no quick and easy road to success. It is likely you have what it takes but, to be sure, take the test below to see if you would be better off in business for yourself or if picking up a paycheck is more your style.

Check off those traits that apply to you.

I am

adaptable, adventurous, a collaborator, confident, creative, dedicated, disciplined, enthusiastic, even-keeled, focused, goal oriented, hardworking, a multitasker, a negotiator, organized, persistent, a problem solver, a public speaker, resourceful, resilient, a risk taker, a self starter, skilled, strong willed, a salesperson, talented.

I like

Being in charge, controlling my own destiny, to build things from scratch, to work alone, networking, learning, writing, talking on the phone, working on multiple projects, experimenting.

I want

To work at home, to pick and choose the projects I work on, to get away from the corporate culture, to be in the spotlight, to work under immense pressure, to be responsible for my own happiness, to travel, to control my destiny.

I can

Budget my money to survive the ups and down of freelance work, delay gratification, manage my time well, be shameless when it comes to promoting myself, work long hours for little or no pay, take orders from and deal with difficult clients, handle rejection well, think big but start small, cut back and make sacrifices if I have to, live without having others appreciate my work, be very self reliant, survive without the perks of corporate life, fly by the seat of my pants.

I have

Some money saved up, access to more money, the support of my family, a skill or service that people would pay me for doing, space for a home office, the basic equipment needed to get started, experience working in my field, no fear.

If you checked off the majority of these traits, you should seriously consider going into business for yourself, it will open up whole new worlds of possibilities for you. If you checked off less than half of these traits, think very carefully before you step out on your own. You are likely more happy in a niche where somebody else is paying the bills (including your paycheck) and bringing in the business. While I admit my own preference for self employment, i am not making judgments for anybody but myself. The important thing is to be honest and to please yourself, not me or anybody else. Then take the self knowledge you have gained and put it to work for yourself.

THE QUEST

When I ask most people what their quest is they stammer, who me?. Yeah, you. Do you have a quest? You do? Good. Just give me one goal in your quest for this year. When? NOW!  Uh, I want to make more money this year. Okay, if I give you one euro, you have satisfied that goal. You just made more money.

When I ask successful people to tell me their quest and goals in it, they will say something like, ‘I will earn Euro 100.000 from my writing with another book deal by the end of the year’.

This goal is stated in the positive (I will), is very specific (Euro 100.000 from my writing) and includes a deadline (by the end of the year).  Bravo!  HAVING A SPECIFIC GOAL CONTRIBUTING TO YOUR PERSONAL AND BUSINESS QUEST, WITH A DEADLINE IS THE KEY TO SUCCESS.

You can make excuses or discount goal setting as being too rigid and linear for the creative person, or you can get with the program and finally start making some real progress toward achieving your dreams. Quite simply, you can get to where you are going until you know where that is.

Having specific, meaningful goals doesn’t mean having a rigid system that leaves no room to roam. It simply means that, right now, this is what you want. Don’t worry about limiting yourself. You can adjust as you go. It does mean that you are in control of your life, have thought about what the real issues are for you, and have a perspective on new capabilities that develop.

Bottom line: Unless you know exactly what your quest is in life, what want from your life and you can articulate it (on demand, in case we meet) you are just fooling around. You aren’t serious about success, and frankly, you will never achieve it.

Having a quest with goals empowers you. Having a clear story of what you want drowns out the negatives and attracts the positive things, ideas and people to help you reach them. Goals give you courage to go beyond which you think is possible. Setting goals creates focus and clarity, so you are not wasting your energy on dead end jobs.

WHAT TO DO OR NOT TO DO?

You can have anything in your life you want; you just can’t have everything you want. (Where would you put it all?).  Many things will catch your eye but very few will catch your heart. Those are the things we are trying to identify here.

Career related decisions are the hardest to make and have the most impact on the quality of your life. As much as you may want to refute this, you do spend most of your life working on something, and you are to a certain extent identified with and bonded to what you do for a living. To be able to make better decisions, you must begin with yourself. What are you feeling, and what is best for YOU? No matter how selfish that sounds, the decision must be best for you, first and foremost.

Consider how this career decision utilizes (or doesn’t) your likes, your talents, how much it allows you to express yourself creatively. This is a very important element to your happiness. All things being equal, go with the choice that allows you to be the most creative and gain appreciation for your talents – the ones you think are important.

Finally, go with your gut. Which direction feels right? Which one would bring you the most joy and satisfy you emotionally? Go somewhere quiet and peaceful so you can (in solitude) get in touch with your intuition.

Decisions are so much simpler when you have a Heroine’s Journey.  A mission and an overriding purpose in your life. Even so, for the divergent thinker, decision making does not come easily. Even though you tap your intuition for advice, you can sometimes be too hasty and impatient.

Shortsighted decisions can come back and bite you later. If you say ‘I will cross that bridge when I get to it’, you may find out that there is no bridge. It was washed away by bad decisions. Trying things on for size can be fun, but taking paths that lead nowhere will limit your success.  I am assuming (and we all know how bad that is) that you want to get somewhere.  The goal i am talking about is to decide on the best career that is right for you now. If you need help setting a quest or making a decision, try these tips:

  • Ask others for their input, especially those who have been there, done that. People you respect. Those who are removed from the situation and can rationally (i.e. unemotionally) offer advice. Get several viewpoints. Don’t be afraid to ask for input.
  • Play out what-if scenarios and consider the contingencies and consequences of each path you could take. This fast forward thinking allows you to ‘begin with the end in mind’and work backward to what you should be doing now.
  • Take a left brain approach and research your options. Information is a wonderful thing.
  • Focus. Instead of taking a spray-and-pray approach, set your sights and focus on the target you most want to hit.

WHAT HAPPENS WITHOUT A QUEST?

Many creative people have no idea who they are, what they want out of life, where they are going, or what their passion is. Afraid to limit their options their lives becomes a series of compromises and unplanned events. They are spinning out of control and feel powerless to stop it. They have zigzagged their way through life, trying this and that. Deep down they feel regret. They tried to grab at it all, and came up empty handed.

Lack of Direction.  

If you don’t know what you want you can waste a lot of time and energy going in the wrong direction. In the meantime, your business and personal life an get way off course.

Forced Compromise.

You wake up one day and realize your life has been a series of compromises, a series of unplanned events. As a result you are in een job you really don’t like or aren’t suited for, afraid to change.

Untapped Talent. 

Without a quest with goals, you can easily get caught in the current of life, swept away by an endless stream of details. You always seem to be paddling against the current in a battle between finding time to be creative and getting things done. Once you get off course, it can be very hard to find your way back.

Boredom. 

Not having a mission a life, a quest, a passion, a purpose for your talents and creativity is he one thing most lacking in many lives. Without it, life can become dull, empty and uninspiring.

Powerlessness/Cynicism.

I have heard people describe their lives as if they were passengers in a car, watching life whiz by while looking out of the window. They feel powerless, and blame everyone and everything for their lack of success, time, happiness, finances, whatever. They blame the government, the economy, reviewers, traffic, foreign competition, and on and on.  Until you take responsibility for your own success, happiness and time, you remain a victim.

Value Conflicts.  

When your values and your achievements don’t align, at best you end up with hollow victories. At worst, you become depressed, angry, or resentful. If you value integrity, you can’t afford to lie and cheat to get what you want. If you want to start a business, but you squander your start up capital, it might be time to look at your values again. Maybe you are just giving lip service to a value you thought you should have. Or maybe your self destructive behavior has deeper roots.

Regret.

Do you go zigzagging through life, jumping at any opportunity that sounds interesting or fun? After years of doing this, you are likely to realize that you have nothing to show for the past decade. This will leave you unhappy, unfulfilled, unsuccessful, because you tried to live without quest and goals.

WITH A QUEST

With a quest you get a bird’s eye view of your life. An overview. Think of being in a plane or balloon, soaring over the scenery, looking down. Everything seems so small, so clear. You get above the trivial details, above the self doubt. This kind of perspective allows you to do the right thing, at the right time, for the right reason in the right way.

Synchronity.

When you set for a quest with clear goals and pick a course of action, unexpected things start to go your way. Unseen forces in the universe begin to say, ‘Yes!’. People and resources come into your life to help. It all starts with a clearly stated quest story and concrete goal, one that you understand and that you can communicate to others. This works even better if you have a real passion for your quest. People pick up on your passion, your commitment. They want to contribute, to be a part of your excitement, so they offer money, time, connections.  That is synchronity.

Your mind works for you. 

When you have a quest with a clear goal, your mind goes about searching for information and opportunities that can help. Have you ever bought a car and suddenly you see other cars like it. Why haven’t you noticed it before now? Your brain, to avoid overload, screens out information not essential to your survival and success. When you know what your quest is your mind works to incorporate your goals into what it lets into your consciousness. This can change your life very quickly.

You enjoy life more 

Your quest allows you to really live. You can enjoy the now, and still look to the future. It is like being a kid again! People who are living their dreams and striving for meaningful goals wake up in the morning excited, full of anticipation. Don’t you want to live like that? You can’t wait to start the day, you are constantly stimulated, curious, eager to interact with others, passionate about what you are doing, and you are working toward real happiness. Your ability to have fun and enjoy life is tied into your quest and its goals. When you know what you want, what you value, progress in this makes you happy. It is easier to make decisions which reduce stress. The directionless life is not the happiest to look back on.

Motivation

We all need something that moves us, that we enjoy doing, and that we are good at. We need to feel useful. We need to help others or belong to a cause larger than ourselves. We know we could help make this a better world, if only on a small scale.

In this world of rapid change people have a need to control their own fate. You have to be the storyteller of your own life and create your own legend.

ACTION TIME

Make a map of your life up to this point It could look like a treasure map, a board game or a streep map. It could be chronological, or seasonal, it can zigzag. Go from birth to where you are right now. Get creative. Draw pictures. Use your non-writing hand. We are not talking about regrets here. Just take a look back at where you have been for clues about where to go next. If you want to take it one step further, try drawing another map – this one of your future. Do you know where you want to go?

NEXT STEP

Wish List

You have primed the pump, now let it pour out. What do you want to be, do, have, share in the future? Don’t worry about how you will get it. Just give yourself ten minutes and list everything that comes to mind. You can think in terms of what you want next year, in the next five years, or in the next ten years. It is up to you. The important thing is to let your imagination run wild and don’t be afraid to say what you want.

Draw pictures

If listmaking is not your game, try drawing or painting your potential goals. Don’t focus on how artistic the resuot is, but on how many things you can imagine yourself doing, having, being. Use symbols that you will understand when you come back to them later.

Write

If you are most comfortable writing, write for ten minutes, nonstop, in answer to the following statement: “I am blessed and I cannot fail; this is what I would do, be, have, create and contribute in the future.

ACTION TIME

As why. Why do I want to be famous?  Get my book published? Work for myself? Land a starring role? Explore your motivations – it will help you weed out goals that aren’t your own, eliminate goals that are nonfunctional and develop the courage to say out what you really want.

MAKING MONEY DOING WHAT YOU LOVE

I believe that when we do what we are supposed to do – meaning we enjoy it and are good at it – the money will eventually flow, as long as we believe we deserve it and we ask for it and willingly accept it. But creative, right-brained people are usually not drive by money, don’t manage it very well, and have some funny beliefs about it. For instance, there are artists who believe that they must starve to do real art, that they can’t have a juicy income and remain honest and true to their vision, that somehow accepting money for one’s art is selling out and giving up some of one’s independence.

Let’s face it, money does buy freedom (as does a total disregard for it too, I guess). I  have had money and I have struggled. Money did not made me happy; it just created a whole new set of challenges. When I was broke, I found out that wasn’t the answer either. The solution is to have inner happiness, so that you can enjoy your riches.

I think Goethe got it right when he said, “It is not doing the thing we like to do, but linking the things we have to do that makes life blessed. Nowhere does he mention money.

Still if you are unwilling to live on the street (or with your mother) you need to consider money somewhere in your goal setting process. You can do that by answering the following questions:

  • What specific annual income do you need to live abundantly, not just comfortably?
  • What are your minimum financial needs?
  • How much money would it take to make you feel successful?
  • What are you doing to off your debt?
  • Where can you cut back?
  • What are some other sources of income?
  • What about part time work?
  • What are you unwilling to do for money?
  • What negative belief holds you back when it comes to money?
  • What would it take to double your monthly income? Is it worth it?
  • How does it feel to be broke?
  • How does it feel to be able to buy the things you want, when you want them, and still have some left over for a rainy day?
  • How much money (exactly) would you need to be able to pursue your dream?

WHAT IS YOUR QUEST?

Your quest, should you choose to accept it, is the overriding principle on which to base your life and career. This gives your life clarity and focus without stifling or restricting you.

A quest is told to inspire you, not to impress others. It reflects your inner desires and values as well as the direction of your life. It is a powerful tool and should not be rushed. It may be best to start by writing everything you want to be, do, have and how you will serve others. Then cut out the repetition and keep cutting it down until it is one or two sentences long.

Then memorize it, internalize it, and live it.

Your quest should inculde an inner goal, what it will take to please you, your deepest desires and dreams. You’ll also want to include an outer goal, which is how you will serve others. This ‘outer goal’ is important because it will usually point out how you will make money by reaching your inner goal. Your quest story does not need to include your desire to hae a Rolex, a Porsche, a beach house in Italy and the best tables in the best restaurants, however.

Fill in the blanks: I would like to work in ……………….,  doing……………, and be known for..

This will help you focus on what is best for you. Not what is okay, good, or better, but what is best. This will keep you focused from day to day and year to year.

CHOOSE A THEME

Having a hard time developing a quest story? How about just a theme for the year? Make this your year to do something special. Theme examples:

“I will focus on my writing above all else this year”

I will show more courage in everything I do this year

I will get rid of all the clutter in my life this year, both physical and mental

I will fight for my creative freedom this year, and make work i want to make

I will better manage distractions in my life and concentrate on my work

I will finish what I start this year

I will concentrate on the business side of my art

This is the year of growth and study

This is my year to make things happen

An Alternative: The Credo 

What do you stand for? It is handy to have your own personal credo, similar to a quest story but less action oriented. A credo is a written statement of your personal values and code of behavior

FIRST AND GOAL

Okay, I’m assuming you’ve come up with a quest story, or at least a theme or a credo. That is your goal. Now write it down. Say it out loud. Tell it to somebody else.

Think about it. How badly do you really want this? Be careful what you wish for.
Why do you want it? If you can establish the motive, then the means and opportunity will fall into place.

Narrow it down. Be specific.

Be honest. How many plates can you spin at once before it all comes crashing down? Most creatives can and want to do many things. Perhaps you can do it all at once. More likely, you can do some now, some later. If you want to be the best at one thing, you have to focus on that one thing and let the other stuff go. What’s your style.? What are you willing to give up, at least for a little while?

Spell it Out

There isn’t really a right or wrong way to write your goals down. It’s just important that you do it, and do it in a format that helps you understand and remember what those goals mean. Companies write their goals as a mission statement – a one or two sentence concise statement of their purpose and how they intend to achieve it.

Whether you call it goals or philosophy or mission statement, a few guidelines may be helpful as you write them down. Here are some suggestions:

State your goal in the positive.  For example ‘i will write a book proposal’

Set a deadline. This creates a sense of urgency and encourages you to take action. For example i will complete my book proposal by december of this year.

Be specific. Your goal should be clear, detailed and focused. Leave no doubt about what you want to accomplish. For example. I will complete my book proposal, have three people check it for errors and critique it for content, correct and finalize it, and send it to my agent – and I will do it by december.

Make it measurable.  There should be a way to recognize that you have reached your goal. If your goal is to write a book proposal, are you done when it is on your agent’s desk or when the book is on the bookstore shelves?

Make it action oriented.  Your goal should be something that requires action and produces results. A goal to be a writer could be better stated as “I will spend a minimum of three hours a day, six days a week at my computer, writing, another three hours a week in the library researching my book, three hours a week connecting with possible agents, editors, publishers and other business contacts working toward having my book completed and in an agent’s hand by march 1. Action doesn’t have to be your action, however.

The goal depends on only you.  Your goal should not hinge on your ability to change others. If your goal depends only on you, you’d better be sure it’s important enough to put the effort into.

Time to do some weeding

At this point, eliminate any goals that contain one of the following concerns:

  1.  It is not really something you want for yourself, but something you put down because it would impress or satisfy others;
  2. It won’t make you happier, healthier, wealthier, wiser or more creative.
  3.  It doesn’t involve activities you enjoy doing or do well: you wouldn’t enjoy the pursuit of this goal.
  4. It is illegal, unethical, immoral, would hurt others, or would damage your reputation in any way.
  5. It doesn’t excite or inspire you when you think of it or tell others about it.
  6.  It doesn’t involve at least some of the resources, educational background, skills or abilities you already posses.
  7. You are not able to state it clearly.
  8.  You aren’t willing to pay the price it will take to reach it.

TIME TO DIG SOME DEEPER

Time to dig some more

At this point, eliminate any goals that contain one of the following concerns:

  1.  It is not really something you want for yourself, but something you put down because it would impress or satisfy others;
  2. It won’t make you happier, healthier, wealthier, wiser or more creative.
  3.  It doesn’t involve activities you enjoy doing or do well: you wouldn’t enjoy the pursuit of this goal.
  4. It is illegal, unethical, immoral, would hurt others, or would damage your reputation in any way.
  5. It doesn’t excite or inspire you when you think of it or tell others about it.
  6.  It doesn’t involve at least some of the resources, educational background, skills or abilities you already posses.
  7. You are not able to state it clearly.
  8.  You aren’t willing to pay the price it will take to reach it.

SPELL IT OUT

There isn’t really a right or wrong way to write your goals down. It’s just important that you do it, and do it in a format that helps you understand and remember what those goals mean. Companies write their goals as a mission statement – a one or two sentence concise statement of their purpose and how they intend to achieve it.

Whether you call it goals or philosophy or mission statement, a few guidelines may be helpful as you write them down. Here are some suggestions:

State your goal in the positive.  For example ‘i will write a book proposal’

Set a deadline. This creates a sense of urgency and encourages you to take action. For example i will complete my book proposal by december of this year.

Be specific. Your goal should be clear, detailed and focused. Leave no doubt about what you want to accomplish. For example. I will complete my book proposal, have three people check it for errors and critique it for content, correct and finalize it, and send it to my agent – and I will do it by december.

Make it measurable.  There should be a way to recognize that you have reached your goal. If your goal is to write a book proposal, are you done when it is on your agent’s desk or when the book is on the bookstore shelves?

Make it action oriented.  Your goal should be something that requires action and produces results. A goal to be a writer could be better stated as “I will spend a minimum of three hours a day, six days a week at my computer, writing, another three hours a week in the library researching my book, three hours a week connecting with possible agents, editors, publishers and other business contacts working toward having my book completed and in an agent’s hand by march 1. Action doesn’t have to be your action, however.

The goal depends on only you.  Your goal should not hinge on your ability to change others. If your goal depends only on you, you’d better be sure it’s important enough to put the effort into.

IF YOU CAN SEE IT YOU CAN DO IT

The ability to visualize your goals puts you a long way toward reaching them. (You can’t hit a target you can’t see).  What do they look like? Project yourself forward. See yourself living as if they were already a reality. This intensifies your desire. When you can see it, you believe it. Let’s try it.

  • Remember back to a day when everything in your life was perfect. Describe in detail where you were. Whom were you with? Emotions? Colors? Images/sounds/smells? What were you doing?
  • Fast-forward to the future. You have everything in life you want. Spend a day in your perfect life. Where do you live? Describe the environment. What does your home look like? Walk through the house in your mind. Describe in detail. Open your checkbook. How much money do you have? What kind of business are you in? Describe what you do, where you work. What is your greatest accomplishment to date? What does your office look like?
  • Now think about the present – as it should be. What is the first thing you do when you wake up? How do you spend your morning? What do you do at lunchtime? In the evening? Draw a picture of what you saw, or write a detailed description.
  • Visualization is a technique that works in many situations. Athletes do it, running through the game or the race over and over in their mind well before the event itself. It gives you the opportunity to create the best result. Visualizing your future is like watching the coming attractions to a new movie, only this one stars you in the lead role in your life. Project yourself forward.
  • Picture yourself in your perfect career. Some of the questions are designed to help you develop this image. Fill in the details, drawing it more and more clearly in your mind. These questions might help:
  •  –  What do you do all day?
  •  –  Where do you work? Indoors? Outdoors? At home?
  •  –  What time do you start work? When do you have to wake up?
  •  –  Is it a small company or a large one? Are you the boss or the employee?
  •  –  What do you wear at work?
  •  –  How many hours a day do you work?
  •  –  Whom do you work with?  Do you work alone?
  •  –  Who is at the meetings you attend?
  •  –  What are the primary tasks you perform?
  •  –  What skill do you use most?
  •  –  What tools are you using?
  •  –  How are you treated by others?
  •  –  How much are you paid?
  •  –  What are some of the perks, other than salary?

Now that your perfect career is clear in your mind, answer the following questions:

  •   Who is doing exactly what you want to do?
  •   What company or career fits this profile?

TAKE THE FIRST STEP

The first two letters of the word goal are go. So release the emergency brake and put your goal in gear by taking that all – important first step.

To some extent, just having a clearly stated goal helps you reach it. If you put in a little effort, however, you’ll reach much farther. Here are some examples of first steps. Once you get going, you build immediate momentum. It is the first step that is the hardest.

Goal                                                                              First Step

Learn to dance, cook                                         Sign up for a class

Clean and organize your home                      Set a date for a party, send invitations

Lose ten pounds                                                Use nonfat milk in your coffee

Change jobs                                                        Update your résumé

Be a better husband                                         Send flowers today, do the cooking

Be a better boss                                                 Compliment someone for a job well done

Improve your attitude                                     Smile at everyone you meet

Change the world                                             Buy a recycling bin and recycle plastics

Get in better shape                                           Find a gym partner and meet three times this                                                                                 week

Try investing ten minutes a day in your goal.  It will all add up over the long haul. Inch by inch.

You don’t have to work on just one goal at a time, either.  Switch off between goals. Try to set them up so that no matter what you are doing, you are working toward one of your goals.

EXCUSES, EXCUSES

Self-limiting excuses hold back many writers from reaching their goals.

Many people, a great many, in fact, have a goal to write a book.  I hear it all the time. Yet only a fraction of them ever do it. It remains ‘the elusive goal’.  I think it is more a case of wanting to ‘have written’ rather than do the writing. Unless you have a ghostwriter, a book will not write itself. Besides, for many people the goal is to sell a book. To sell a book, you first must write it (or at least a proposal). Commit it to paper, page by page. That is the part that can be, well, work.  It’s tough enough with a positive attitude.

I can’t because i can’t even spell my own name.  Get a spell checker or hire an editor.

I can’t because there are already too many books out.  Always room for one more.

I can’t because I don’t have an agent.  Self publish.

I can’t because i may fail.  What is the worst that can happen?

I can’t because I’ll have to quit my job.  Do it part-time.

I can’t because I’m too old.  Better late than never.

I can’t because critics may trash it.  What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

I can’t because i don’t know what to write.  Write about what you know.

I can’t because I am not an ‘idea person’.  You don’t have to reinvent the wheel.

I can’t because I don’t have a computer. Typewriters still work fine.

I can’t because I can’t get started.  Join a writer’s group.

I can’t because who will watch my cat when i go on a book tour. Deal with it!  Do phone interviews.

Replace ‘I can’t from your vocabulary, and replace it with I will’

DEADLINES

Without a deadline, baby, I wouldn’t do nothing  –  Duke Ellington

When I am working on a book i give myself a page count and set a deadline. I find that very helpful. I know how much i have to do and when it as to be completed. If the book is to be three hundred pages and I have one hundred days until it is due, I have to write three pages per day – every day.

The deadline also serves as wake-up call. It creates a sense of urgency and forces action. I know many creative people who will not do a thing without a deadline. When their deadline looms – watch out, they work like mad.

It is the same way with any goal. Without a deadline, your goals remain out of reach. With a deadline, you have that extra motivation that will usually help you find a way to reach them.

ACTION TIME

Find your current age on the time line. Next determine the ripe old age you believe you will live to. Now subtract the years you have left. What is the one thing you want to accomplish more than anything else in the remaining years?

0    18   21   25   30   35   40   45   50   55   60   65   75

OUT OF FOCUS

Many creative, inventive, imaginative people have struggled with an inability to focus at one time or another. The most successful have used this ‘fault’ to their benefit.  Focusing is not an easy thing to do. At any given moment, you have an infinite number of choices. The trick is basing your choices on your particular strengths and weaknesses. And sometimes your weaknesses can be the deciding factor.

To help you focus on your goal, try these simple techniques:

  •  Keep it in front of your face. Write out your goal on posterboard and hang it over your desk. Make a painting of it and hang it in the bathroom, the kitchen, above the television set – where ever you spend the most time. Make a dangle toy out of it and hang it from your rearview mirror.
  •  Make a goal board that includes a collage of pictures representing your goals. Make it an ongoing project, growing as you do.
  • Make a game of it. Give a point value to each of the steps you plan to take toward your goal, and come up with a grand total you need to reach your goal. Keep a running total of the points you’ve earned, and reward yourself when you’ve reached 25, 50 and 75 percent of your goal. Decide on your rewards (preferably in ascending value) beforehand and attach a picture of it to the point total you must reach to earn it.
  • Think positive.  Use daily affirmations to keep you focussed on your goal. I will do it. I will do it. Nothing can stop me from (state your goal). Repeat your affirmation three times when you’re in a quiet relaxed state.
  • Find a goal partner, someone who will hold you accountable for acting on and achieving your goals. Have you ever noticed that when you have a workout partner waiting for you at the gym, you’re more likely to show up? You don’t want to let them down – so you don’t let yourself down.
  • Talk to other people about your goals. Tell everybody. Be enthusiastic Don’t let them shoot you down.
  • Surround yourself with other people who are working toward goals and who are positive and excited about what they are doing

BOGUS

If you haven’t already taken the steps outlined in the previous story, you may recognize yourself in one of the following excuses. As creative people, we can come up with some pretty clever rationalizations for not having written goals – and they’re all bogus.

“I already have goals’.  Fair enough. Are they written down? Can you spell them out? True goals – the kind that work, anyway are written down. As a result, they can be reviewed, revamped and recalled, guiding your everyday actions and decisions.

‘I set New Year’s resolutions every January, and by February I’m back to my old ways. Goal setting does not work”.  There is a big difference between goals and resolutions. One works and the other does not. Resolutions are often unrealistic and impulsive. You are initially exceited about them, but there is no real commitment, so you’re quickly discouraged and distracted. Written goals, on the other hand, involve some real soul searching.  When you are doing what you really want to do, you’re more likely to follow through

‘Setting goals is overwhelming, complicated and too much work’. This excuse boils down to not knowing how to set goals. When you follow the steps in this guide, you’ll learn a lot about yourself and you’ll also start developing a skill that will help you do what you need to do

‘I’m too busy living my life, man’ Besides you can’t know what is going to happen in the future’.  Live for today, we can all die tomorrow right? Wrong, you can live another decade or more  That gives you a lot of life to live – with or without goals. Having written goals gives peace of mind, clarity of thought, and hope for the future. It motivates you, guiding your daily decisions so you can make the most of that unforeseenable future.

‘Written goals will make me boring and predictable and stifle my creativity’. Okay, so write them down in pencil. Change or refine them as often as you like. But get them down on paper first. Otherwise you’re likely to be bored, frustrated and stifled, the very things you want to avoid. You don’t have to set your goals in concrete – but if they are in sand, the tide can come and wash them away. Setting real goals involves self knowledge, and self-knowledge alone can help you chart a better course.

I don’t have time to set goals. Make it a priority. Do what you can now, however small it is. You’ll be surprised at how little steps can add up.  Being too busy can be a symptom that you’re afraid to slow down and really take a look at yourself and make decisions about what to do when you grow up.  Your life is frittered away on endless details and mindless errands.

“Written goals? That is serious stuff. I do not know if i am ready for that big a step” These excuses reflect closely held fears. Fear of failure, fear of success, fear of change, fear of c….c…commitment. When you let fear get in the way, you’ll always play it safe, never writing that book or opening that business or taking your paintings to a gallery show. That can lead to feelings of anger, frustration, depression and lack of motivation. The answer is to take smaller steps. Setting goals doesn’t mean making sweeping changes that you are not prepared for. You don’t necessarily have to quit your job; you just need to take the first step toward achieving what you want, or you’ll never get anywhere

‘What will others think if I try for more?’ or ‘I know I could do more, but I’m satisfied with what i have now’.  Low self esteem is a deep down feeling that you don’t deserve to be happy and successful.  Why shouldn’t you have all the things you desire? You deserve it as much as everyone else. Don’t let others make important choices for you.

‘There are too many things i want to do, and I don’t want to choose just one’. You don’t have to choose just one. You can have several goals or one overriding goal, a quest, a mission and several goals that support it.

IT IS NOT A JOB IT IS AN ADVENTURE

Someone once made the observation that you spend more time planning a vacation than you do planning your career. Why is that?

Think about how you plan a vacation. You start out thinking ‘oh, i think i’d would like to go to someplace tropical (or historical, or educational, or exciting). Then you start to narrow it down to specific hemisphere, then country, then type of place to stay (camping or resort), then particular place to stay, then how and when to get there. Once the reservation is made, you can look at what you’re going to do when you get there – or figure to wing it.

Planning a career is a lot like that: setting a goal, then narrowing your choices down step by step until you’re where you want to be. If you haven’t done that yet, it’s past the time to start Don’t think of it as limiting yourself, this is just one vacation, and you have got many years ahead to travel the world. But without a little planning, you’re not going anywhere.

LIFE AS ART

There are times in your life when everything seems chaotic. You are in full crisis mode, unsure of what to do next, unsure about everything really. What you think you need is a vacation to escape your challenges or at least to sort things out. The truth is, you need to get a handle on your life and get control again, to make some sense out of the uncertainty. You don’t need a vacation, you need a vocation and a plan. This will help you make it through the turbulence and come out the other side less stressed and stronger for it.

Even the rightest right brainers need some structure in their lives. Yet creative people resist traditional planning because they think it is too structured, too limiting. It doesn’t have to be. You have clarified earlier your vision and get a goal. Once you have a goal you need a plan to help you reach it. This plan is more like a map. It has footprints to show you what steps to take (and in what order), landmarks so you can tell when you are veering oof course, a list of recommended provisions for this trip, and the names of some trail guides who can help you get where you are going quickly

The starting point is here and now. The goal is to earn a living from what you enjoy doing Once you get there, you can do a lot of sightseeing, wander around and have a good time. From your vantage point you may decide to set out for someplace new. The steps are the same each time: choose a destination, work out how to get there, and go.

ACTION TIME

Think of two important transition points in your life. Write a key word for each one. What was your feeling at the time?  How did it turn out? How did you plan for it?

MYTHS ABOUT CREATIVE CAREERS

It helps to expose and explore some of the myth surrounding creative careers (and careers in general) before you go any further. Things can look pretty glamorous from a distance, but once you are within spitting distance, you realize that this is not anything like it was advertised to be. It also does not help when people send you postcards about how swell everything is, when in reality the weather is stormy and the people are rude. Forewarned is forearmed – an old fashioned way of saying ‘If you know what you’re getting into, you’re less likely to get in hip deep before you notice the smell.

Myth:  Your career is your life.   Reality:  The average person changes careers five to seven times before they die – and creatives change careers more like five to seven times every five to seven years. It is okay to be a job hopper in the creative arts. In fact, the future will be more like a project to project kind of jumping around. Even if you think you want to stick with one job, one company your whole life (are you sure you are a right brainer?) it is not possible anymore. End of story.

Myth: Companies offer careers.  Reality: People create careers.

Myth:  You climb the corporate ladder from mailroom to boardroom.  Reality: Traditional career planning is useless today. The old rules are obsolete, and paths that were once prominently marked are now grown over or washed away. Make your own path.

Myth: Glamorous fields and big titles are where it is at.  Reality: Titles don’t mean all that much anymore – managers finally figured out that a big title makes up for a small paycheck, and even janitors have become industrial maintenance engineers. I say go for the check and let them call you whatever they want.

Myth:  Work is a necessary evil. Reality: When you find the ideal career, you will never work another day in your life. It won’t feel like work, anyway. That is total actualization.

Myth:  Pick a path that involves the  hot careers and you will be sure of a job. Reality: Don’t limit yourself to what is hot and popular. Follow your passion, your curiosity. The experts don’t know what is best for you, any more than your parents or friends do. You know. So stick that neck out and go for it.

Myth: Once I make it, I’m set for life.  Reality:  a creative career is like a roller coaster ride. There is a slow and steady climb as you pay your dues, work hard and make connections. Once you get to the top, you have just about a second to enjoy the view before you go plummeting to the bottom ten times as fast as the climb up. Sometimes that fast drop is your choice, sometimes it is not. The momentum of it carries you back up the next rise however, and around the curves to the next dip and rise and the next. The point is that the creative arts don’t take you on a steady uphill climb. But unlike other professions, they offer a lot of thrills, too.

Myth: I want my first job to lot to launch the rest of my life. Reality: If you are waiting for a job to start your life, stop waiting. You need a life first. A sense of who you are and what you want to be. Then you go looking for a job. Most people make a more lasting commitment to their second career, because they have had time to figure out what they really want by then.

Myth: Changing your career will make everything okay.  Reality: The saying ‘whereever you go, there are you’ comes to mind. While there is no doubt the right career makes life much, much better, it won’t make you better. A career change is external. If you are unhappy where you are now, take the time to discover why before you leap into another situation.

Myth: The most talented people get ahead. Reality: Talent can take you only so far. Having a vision, a plan, the willingness to treat your career as a business – that is what it takes to go ahead.

Myth: Some people seem to get all the lucky breakes.  Reality:  You make your own luck. Behind all those ‘lucky breaks’ is a lot of legwork, preparation and planning. Being in the right place at the right time means putting yourself in a position to be at the right place (get out there), being prepared when opportunities arise and having the guts to grab your chance when it comes. Many people claim they have got no chance to win the lottery. So they don’t play. Are they unlucky because they will never win or unlucky because they don’t take a chance? Opportunities are everywhere, but without a clear vision of what you want, you may be passing up many lucky breaks of your own.

Myth: Entrepreneurs are born, not made. Reality: it is true, not everyone is cut out to make it on their own. It takes a certain type to be in business. But creative people have many of the traits necessary to be successful businesspeople. They also have some traits (like an allergic reaction to detail work) that must be overcome.

Myth: If I work harder, everything will work out.  Reality: In the military they have soldiers digging ditches and marching around in circles. This is very hard work. What does it get them? Calluses and athlete’s foot. Hard work is need to make it in the creative arts, but working smart and taking time out to let ideas percolate is needed even more.

Myth: You have to have a college degree to make it in the arts.  Reality: Although a college degree cannot hurt you become an artist by doing. Building your skills, portfolio, and relationships while actually creating something is the best way to learn.

Myth: There are simply not enough jobs in the creative arts to go around Reality: You only need one. Don’t have a defeatist attitude, or you are already defeated. Somebody is going to get a book deal or record contract, or sell their software idea. Why couldn’t it be you?

Myth: The entertainment industry is glamorous, so get any job you can. Reality: The above the line people (writers, producers, directors, actors) definitely have some perks, but for the most part it is hard work, long hours, a lot of sitting around, weeks and months away from your (real) family when on location.

Myth: The only real artists are starving artists. At least they have some integrity.  Reality: Some art forms simply do not pay well, no matter how many dues you pay. But making money at your art does not mean you are a sell out. It means you are smart enough to find a market for what you love to do.

Myth: Do what you love and the money will follow. Reality: If it were that simple, don’t you think everyone would make it big time? The real message behind this myth is that it is much more pleasurable to do what you love for a living. Because you love it, you do your best work and work hard. As a result of those factors,  the money finds you. Hopefully, before you are dead.

Myth: You have to be famous to make a fortune.  Reality: Anyone wh has had any degree of fame will tell you that it doesn’t pay the bills. Being respected by your peers and adored by your audience is awesome, but there are plenty of people you have never heard of who are quietly making millions. Fame is not the goal; it is a somewhat by product of doing good work.

Myth: If you don’t like having a boss, you should work for yourself.  Reality:  That is true – as long as you don’t have any clients, partners, publishers, agents, fans, etc.  Freelance clients will work you harder try to pay you less than any ‘real’ boss. They don’t care about your other clients, other commitments, cash flow problems, or the fact that the deadline comes smack in the middle of the first vacation you had planned in years.

Myth:  You can’t start at the top.  Reality: Actually, you can. Start your own business, and you will be owner, boss, CEO. You will also be publicist and bottle washer. Entry level jobs are necessary. Use them. Take advantage of opportunities to learn.

Myth: The more you make, the happier you will be.  Reality: The more you make, the more you make. Money creates its own problems, and happiness is something else altogether.

Myth: There is no such thing as job security anymore. Reality: Your job security is your talent and skills. Build on each experience, developing new skills and making key contacts along the way. Be willing to change, adapt, learn and reinvent yourself. Be a problem solver and self starter, innovative and productive. You will not only survive – you will thrive.

Myth: It is too late to start over. It is never too late to look for and pursue your passion. Over the hill just means that there is another hill waiting for you to climb.

Myth: Start looking for a  new job when you are ready for a change. Reality: Always be on the lookout for opportunities. Keep that story of yours updated and handy.

Myth: Jobs are like marriage.  Reality: Jobs are more like dating.

Myth:  I have to settle for whatever comes along.  Reality:  What you want, wants you. You only have to settle if you are unwilling to go out there and meet your life halfway.

Myth: Day jobs must be waiter, cabbie or webcam sex.  Reality: It might be even better to find temp work or entry level work in your field. That way you learn from the inside out, make contacts, and learn about opportunities firsthand.

Myth:  Everyone is out to steal your ideas.  Reality: Very few people have the intent, ability, follow through or malice to steal your ideas. Don’t let fear hold you back. Do what you can to protect yourself and your ideas, and then go out and spread the word. Make something happen.

Myth: You need an agent,a book deal, a record deal to make it. Reality: There are ways around the gallery, publisher, studio when it comes to getting work out there. Be a do it yourselfer.

Myth: When you figure out what your dream is, everyone will support you. Reality: the sad thing is that more people try to sabotage you than support you. Their insecurities and envy are their problem, not yours.

Myth: If you are all over the place, you have got a better chance of catching a big break. Reality: lack of focus is one of the biggest problems creatives have. In fact, I would say that focus is the difference between flourishing and floundering.

Myth: Only anal retentive left brainers try to plan out their life or careers. Reality: Even creatives need a plan, a loose plan with a tight vision.

USE AN UMBRELLA

Realistically at most you should pursue only three paths at once. If they all come under the umbrella of one career, all the better. This means everything you do feeds one or more aspects of your career.

An umbrella title like storyteller, designer, inventor or performer can get you started on a career path, while you are still exploring possibilities. Don’t get me wrong though. The more focused you are on what you want, the easier it will be to plan your career and the more opportunities will arise. If you can say you’re an artist and define the medium you want to work in, you have an edge, a niche.

This will not hem you in. It is simply where you are today and where you want to go at this time. You can always adjust your course. Make a choice now, however, and you have an edge over all those wandering generalities out there. You can remain flexible and take advantage of opportunities within your niche. You can go as slowly as you like, but knowing where you are going also lets you go faster if you like.

Make sure you match up who you are to what you want. Take another look at your responses, to the questions in the preceding guide. Don deny these needs and preferences just because an interesting opportunity arises.

How do you know if you have chosen the best path for you?  Pay attention to your dreams. Remember this, ‘dreamjob means it is your dream’ not anyone else’s.  When you feel excited and energized in the morning to start working on what you do, you have found it.

ACTION ITEM

List your skills and talents, highlighting the ones you think are most important, that you enjoy most using. Think of three jobs or careers that use all of your highlighted ones. Choose the one that sounds best to you, and find out more about it.

WHO IS OUT THERE? MEET BEFORE YOU LEAP

Early in the planning process, you need to find out evertyhing you can about the field you think you want to go into. What exactly do you do day to day in this career? What are the trends? Hoe did others get their start? How do you get ahead? What are the negatives, the benefits? Make a testdrive in your dreamjob:

  •  Talk to people who are doing what you think you want to do. Maybe follow them for a day.
  • Read biographies of successful people to see what it took.  Are you wiling to move back  home with your parents during the startup phase of your career? Work a second job? Work in the garage? Move to another city?
  • Go to trade shows, make lunch dates with people in the field you are interested in, do informational interviews, look at interviews online.
  • Research gives you more confidence. The more you know, the less you stress. Absorb all the information you can, and then go with your gut. Let your instincts be your guide. Make informed decisions about how much you want to earn, whom you will work with, what tools and talents you need to master, the hours, the environment, the stress level. Then you can move forward with a sound decision about what you want to do. You can avoid quite a few pitfalls this way.

THE ZOOM LENS

Right brainers are big picture people, but when it comes to detail (the devil is in the details) they get distracted. The possibilities are limitless, which makes the concept of planning a career overwhelming. The answer is to break it down, then simplify it and streamline it further.

  • Who is doing what I want to do?
  • What steps did they take to get there?
  • What could I do to follow in their path?
  • Whom could I ask how they did it?
  • What obstacles might I face along the way?
  • How will I deal with those obstacles?
  • What are some possible solutions?
  • What are the decision makers along the way looking for?
  • What do I have to do to meet those needs?
  • What will I need to acquire along the way?
  • Where is the action happening?
  • Where will I need to go to give myself a better shot?
  • Where am I now?
  • What can I do to close the gap between what I want and where I am now?
  • How can I build a bridge form where I am to where I want to be?
  • Who can help me reach my goal?
  • Where do I need to be to have the best chance to make this happen?
  • What skills do I need to acquire?
  • What am I selling?
  • Can I make a living at this?
  • Who is my audience?
  • How can I best reach them? Get it to them?
  •  What is in it for them?
  • How much do I want?
  • How can I simplify the process?
  • What do I need to support this?
  • What steps do I need to take? In what order?
  • What action can I take right now, today?

WORK BACKWARD

  • Visualize exactly what it will look like, feel like, be like when you reach your goal. For instance, you want to have a novel published by a large publisher and sold and promoted nationwide. Picture yourself signing your finished book for anxious readers.
  • Whom must you persuade to publish your book? An editor.
  • How can you get an editor to buy your book? You need a literary agent.
  • How do you get a literary agent? You need to write a proposal.
  • How do you write a proposal? You need to get a book or hire an expert on the subject.
  • Who do you know who has a book published and may know an agent?

BEGINNER’S MIND

There is something to be said for having a ‘beginner’s mind’ and going off without a suitcase, to make it without a clue about what you are going to need. Sometimes that approach works because if you really knew all the things that are “required” to make it, you might just say,  “Forget it, there is no way”.

You must hone your craft, but not to the point where all you do is practice and never get any real-world experience. Learn when good enough IS good enough, and go out there and show them what you can do. Look for opportunities to prove yourself. Take the leap.

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