Count Your Accomplishments

It's easy to be discouraged by everything left undone at the end of the year, but don't fall into that trap.

Erin Curry, Powerlines 06.28.09. Polaroid.
©2009 Erin Curry, Powerlines 06.28.09. Polaroid, 4.25 x 3.5 inches.

My job is to keep giving you strategies for your art career. I throw them at you with each newsletter, class lesson, and blog post.
Your job is to pick and choose what you need at the moment.
So, yeah, if you consider all of the possible career strategies, there's a lot you probably didn't get done this year. The important thing is that you did your best.
Rather than focus on the unfinished items on your list, I urge you, as I do every year, to count your accomplishments. Write down everything you achieved in 2010.
Here is an inventory of questions to get you started.

In 2010 . . .

How did you promote your art?
What did you do to enhance your online presence?
What technological skills did you learn or improve?
How many people did you add to your mailing list?
How many Twitter followers or Facebook fans did you gain?
Who were the top ten cool or influential people you met?
Whom did you mentor or help out?
When did you ask for help or hire someone?
What new marketing material did you develop and use?
What medium or skill did you attempt or master?
What did you try that was completely new?
What did you try that was uncomfortable but helped you grow?
What worthy cause did you support?
What new art events, galleries, and museums did you visit?
What resources did you discover or master?
How did you improve your studio habits?
What books did you read to help your career? What videos or films were useful?
What seminars/workshops/lectures did you attend or teach?
How did you enhance your office or studio environment?
What organizations were you involved with?
What grants did you apply for?
What grants/honors/awards did you receive?
What articles were written about your work?
Where did you exhibit or retail your art?
Where did you save a wad of money?
What was the single best thing that happened to your art career in 2010?
Select the questions that are relevant and add your own insights.
Congratulate yourself! Be grateful for the people you met, the energy you mustered, and the new experiences you had.
Don't allow yourself to be discouraged by all that remains undone. Just continue doing your best. Every step counts.

If you want more in 2011, I invite you to join the Blast Off class beginning January 5 (program no longer available). The name of the class pretty much says it all. It's a terrific blend of motivation, coaching, and practical business tools to take your art career to a new level in the New Year.

Care to share your best of 2010?

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39 thoughts on “Count Your Accomplishments”

  1. Here’s some things I’ve achieved this year:
    1. I started my Twitter account and I now have 179 followers (and still growing everyday) 🙂
    2. I received a Silver and 2 Bronze awards for a photography competition I entered.
    3. I started my photography business this year – that was a huge step and the best thing for my art career!
    4. I bought Alain Briot’s Marketing for Fine Art Photographers. A lot of money, but a course that is really worth it.
    What about you Alyson? What do you think has been the greatest accomplishments for you this year?

  2. Thanks for the reminder, Alyson. It’s so easy to look at what didn’t get done, or to look ahead at all the possibilities and challenges. When I stop to review my achievements both large and small, I feel pretty impressed with myself, which in turn, helps me look forward with growing confidence at what can be accomplished. Your 2008 Blast Off Class started it all for me. Thanks for the jump-start on a thriving art business.

  3. Thanks for the reminder! Why is it that we tend to focus on the negative and forget about all the positive?
    Happy Holidays!!
    Love reading your blog!

  4. It’s always easier to look at the negative and focus only on that. That’s an extensive list and when I go through them then it’s obvious… “hey I did in fact make lots of progress”… so then you ease up on yourself. It’s hard not to be overly critical. Refreshing post!

  5. This post could be the antidote for work related holiday depression, thank you ! One of my favorite authors this year, Greg Boyd said ” What you focus on will be what you experience” and I have found it to be so true . Excellent questions- now I just need to take the time to answer them 🙂 Happy Holidays to all, and thanks Alyson!

  6. BTW, I’m setting aside Saturday morning to write down my accomplishments. Anyone want to join me at this time for a little group accountability?

    1. Gracye: We actually did this last Saturday, but you should set aside your own time. It’s powerful!

  7. Great article! I’m looking forward to sitting down and writing these out. My greatest accomplishment this year was to attend a weeklong painting workshop by Robert Burridge. It was a great jump-start and motivator to really get serious about my art. I drove 500 miles by myself to attend, and didn’t get lost in a big city (Denver). Yea!!!

  8. Thanks for these questions! I wrote down my accomplishments for 2010 and was blown away by how much I did, and how much I grew creatively. I’m especially proud of learning new software – iMovie and this weekend Final Cut Express for my videos, and also Lightroom to edit and manage my photos.
    For me, it’s fun to see how I grow and learn with new media. I never would have known how much I would love producing videos unless I tried!
    I wrote about my accomplishments in my newsletter and blog this week – calling it my Annual Review.

  9. I”ve had my website for 12 years and my blog for 3 but this was the year the internet finally began to work for me. I sold my first sculpture over the web AND it was my first international sale!
    A couple in England wanted a bear fountain head, found my work online and bought it! After research showed that professional crating would cost more than the art was worth, I built a triple reinforced cardboard box and used the US Postal system to deliver it safely to their door. They love their new artwork.

  10. I love your year end review Alyson and this year I get to put you on it right up at the top…I broke my wrist in May and had just finished taking the Blog Triage with you and the wonderful Cynthia Morris…sooo… with my dayglo pink cast on I signed up to take all of your other class offerings, and oh boy have they ever served me well.
    I’ve received an invitation to be in a very fabulous exhibition and since I’ll be going out of town for the opening I decided to ‘Blast Off’ and ‘Get Organized’ so that the trip has expanded to 10 days and now also includes a solo exhibition at the Cuyahoga Valley National Park (I’ve been their artist is resident several times), Seiberling Gallery and I’ll also present a weekend Artist ‘Heart Work’ retreat to jump start the spring….also in the gorgeous National Park.
    Many other wonderful events and experiences have made this year rich in creative Silver Linings….thank you Alyson!!!!!

  11. Wow, what a year it was! I started painting pet portraits and opened a Facebook account. My little hobby turned into a business with my Facebook fan page and blog. I worked hard at promoting and showing my work, and it paid off. I have been painting and selling on a steady basis since I started. I grew my fan page to over 5,000 people. Taught myself how to paint with watercolor and acrylic. Have been published in a few books and on line magazines! If you set goals, it is amazing what you can accomplish. My next goal is to learn how to etch glass.

  12. Alyson, this is a post that is always topical, not just at the end of the year. It sometimes seems that we human beings are prone to undervalue ourselves by forgetting that which we have done in favor of worrying about that which is still to be done. We look forward at the obstacles, at the future, at the progress. As a caregiver for someone with an illness that can only get progressively (an now more rapidly) worse, many of my accomplishments related to caregiving are not to see improvement (or growth) but that I am easing the passage and giving comfort to one who is losing much of herself to Alzheimer’s.
    I suddenly find myself able to transfer this experience and insight to how I view my journey as both a human being and an artist. I am not going to get it all done as quickly or as fully as I’d like. But I can see the behind me, a path illuminated by my accomplishments and these are the foundation of all I do next.

  13. Alyson,
    This is a great article with lots of thoughts to get us started on our list. I know I tend to minimize my accomplishments but this has been a GREAT year for me! And I have to say many thanks to you. I had taken two of your online classes early in the year and started to apply them to my art career and what do you know… it worked!! I am definitely going to write down the accomplishments so that I can look back and review. I’m looking forward to a very exciting 2011, yeah!!

  14. Accomplishments:
    1. I published my first photographic, digitally manipulated 2011 calendar and gave it away to all my best clients, prospective best clients and friends. People loved it.
    2. I conducted four mosaic mural and projects, three community paver projects and four acrylic painting classes.
    3. I gained 6 extra after school pupils.
    4. I wrote 60 haiku and learned a lot of new thingsa on photoshop.
    5. I walked most days, lost weight and became a vegetarian.
    6. I had more happy days than sad.
    7. I started a blog
    This was a really good idea Alison. I am still reading your book and implementing some strategies for next year.
    Cheers Janet

  15. Angela Dal Bon Custom Invites

    Thank you for reminding me to change my way of thinking. As a business owner it’s hard to not to get overwhelmed by all the stuff that I have to do outside of creating (social media, blog, networking, etc.). But the most important thing is that I am doing all that I can!

  16. This was on my year end To Do list Alyson. Now I can print it and review the year. Great, thoughtful questions – Three accomplishments at the top of my list are:
    1. Creating my first installation and exhibiting in NYC.
    2. Writing and receiving a Leeway Foundation Art & Change Grant.
    3. Learning/ refining a new skill- signing up for and committing to
    Your and Cynthia Morris’ Blog Triage Online Class.
    Thank you for your efforts on keeping us informed and challenged in class and through the work that you do!

    1. Nanci: What a great year you’ve had! You were a start BT student and I just know you’re going to continue to love that blog.

  17. I was a stay at home Mom at the beginning of 2010. After graduating art school at 2007, I had a baby and was still living my life as a mom. But now at the end of 2010, I have two galleries represent me and another one in a different state interested in my work! They came to me and not the other way around!
    1. I have started selling work regularly.
    2. I have an inventory software and a mailing service now. I had no ideas what these were at the beginning of 2010!
    3.Have a blog( and a fan page on facebook(!
    Just to list a few!
    I hope to talk about the whole list on the group talk!
    And if I may add, Alyson, you have been a major part of my “blasting off”! Taking your class has been the single most important step I took in 2010, to advance my career! Peace to you all.

    1. Ishita: Wow! What a change. You are proof that you can juggle career and family. It’s hard work, I know. You’re one of my heroes, as are all moms.

  18. So I sat down this morning and listed my 2010 Accomplishments as you suggested Alyson and I actually surprised myself.
    In 2010:
    -I started two new mediums, pastel and charcoal which I now use exclusively. This year I produced over 30 pieces of work which for me is beyond extensive. Of which I sold 4.
    -At the start of the year I joined/began a weekly art class. This class has really helped me to connect with other artists and has helped me to open my eyes to more opportunities.
    -I joined a new gallery, and am now a member of two.
    -I started a twitter account and facebook fan page for my artwork and now have approx 180 fb fans. I update this page on a weekly basis and tried to keep the post interesting. (
    -I revamped my website and started a bog. I connect with at least 1-2 other art related blogs weekly, reading posts and commenting sometimes.
    -I started a mailing list this month, and though I have less than 10 names at the moment, I think I will be able to add more people gradually.
    -I took part in two shows this year. Prior to this I had NEVER talked to viewers or gallery visitors, but this year I made it a point to be present at both openings so that I could introduce myself and talk to those people who were interested in my work. This was a major step for me.
    -AND! I purchased “I’d Rather Be In The Studio” to help me see my dreams through
    Now looking back it does seem like a lot. Sometimes I must admit I overwhelm myself with all of the items that still remain on my “to-do” list and I don’t take time out to look and what I did and be grateful and happy with where I am.
    This was a worthwhile exercise, reminds me to breathe, reminds me that success doesn’t come overnight, and that it’s important to enjoy it and just take one day at a time.

    1. Vanessa: That’s why it’s really necessary to do this exercise. It’s amazing what we lose sight of. Congratulations!

  19. Thank you for giving us this opportunity to reflect,share and encourage others!
    I love hearing other artists stories!!
    This year was HUGE for me because I finally ended the toxic stupid day job cycle.( I believe I was on #57..?)
    This was one of the most scary things I have done but such a major relief. My mental and physical health have never been better!
    I have been working in my quilting business full time and have also created 5 custom commissions through networking on Facebook.
    This notion of living as an artist and on my own terms has been bubbling just below the surface since 1986 when I graduated from college with an Art degree.It’s NEVER too late!!

    1. Congratulations on devoting yourself full time to your art career, Susan. That’s a big, bold move.

  20. I finally finished writing my accomplishments today. Thank you Alyson for encouraging us to do it. I just realized that I did more than I thought.
    *I started out the year taking a 2-day encaustic workshop. Fell in love…with the wax.
    *Took 2 more workshops throughout the year.
    *Signed up to attend the Encaustic Conference in June and will be staying all week to attend more workshops after the conference. Will be sharing the hotel room with an artist I met on facebook.
    *My main medium now is encaustic paints.
    *Moved to a new place at the end of Dec. Set up my new encaustic studio in my new studio.
    *Worked on my facebook fan page and went from around 200 to 507 fans.
    *Up to 748 friends on facebook (up several hundred), 687 followers on Twitter (had 250 followers at the beginning of the year) and added 300 people to my mailing list.
    *Exhibited my work 6 times during the year. The whole month of January at a Hair Studio. In February all month at a gallery in a synagogue. Did 3 Art Fairs and another exhibit this past Dec. 8th where I sold several pieces and got a commission.
    *I got another commission for an exercise studio. I will be painting (in acrylics) the divider between the Pilates studio and the rest of the gym. Painting on each side. It’s 2 big pieces.
    *12 of my art pieces got new homes this year.
    *Combined website with blog under one URL. Thank you for all your help.
    * Took Blog Triage for a 2nd time last April. Right before the class I changed my whole blog over to WP. And…I just realized how quick I did this all by myself…wow.
    * Thanks to your help Alyson…I now have (finally) an artist statement, a new bio and a resume.
    * I have been and continue to be part of the Creative Leap Club with Cynthia Morris >
    ( ) I have made many leaps and love it!!!
    I will stop here because it’s already too long.
    Alyson, Thank You for all that you do with us “artists”!!!
    You are a great incentive and inspiration!

  21. Pingback: Crafty Connections- December 21st « creativeapples fine art photography

  22. Pingback: My Favorite Things in 2010 — Art Biz Blog

  23. When I make a concerted effort to look back over the year I can think of at least 20 accomplishments (some related to each other), but then I glance at your list and even more come to mind. One that strikes me as fairly remarkable is the video I made as a case study with a young internet marketing group, Ripple100. The vid features me explaining and demonstrating how to transform old unwearable jewelry into a one of a kind heirloom. Some others of note are,
    1) After receiving IRBITS as a gift, I immediately started reading and began implementing some of the lessons therein (some more successfully than others). Nonetheless, IRBITS directly led to several of my most important accomplishments such as
    2) Redesigned my business cards (but also was influenced by David Weiman)
    2) Totally redesigned and re-coded my Web site (using and learning CSS) but still a work in progress
    3) Read “Eat That Frog” and found it useful for getting over short term humps (ie doing that which I’d rather not but ought).
    4) Tried a joint venture with an Orchid grower (which was not as successful as we’d have liked but given that I retain the rights to my images I can use them for other things).
    5) Designed a totally new line of hair accessories (and yarmulke holders) called Bubbe Pins(TM)
    6) Invented a chain link weave that uses only one thread
    7) Rewrote my bio and artist statement (Thanks to Alyson and IRBITS!)
    8) Began to seriously attempt social marketing (FB, twitter, blog, eNewsletter)

  24. Pingback: Wrapping It up « Beth Robinson's Strange Dolls

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