Facing the Reality that You’re Human and Can’t Do Everything You Want to Do

Every month I select a new theme for members of the Art Biz Connection community, which gives us a common point of discussion.

This month's theme is “Getting Real,” which can mean something different to each member-artist. Perhaps …

  • Getting real about who you really are.
  • Getting real about your finances.
  • Getting real about what you want.
  • Getting real about all the demands on your time.

It's that last bullet point that is my current obsession: Getting real about your energy level and the time you really have available to you.

Nobody Has Time

Alyson Stanfield holding up Oliver Burkeman's bookI blame the brilliant Oliver Burkeman for my obsession. He's the author of Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals, the title of which is deeply misleading.

Not only is it impossible to manage time (the world keeps spinning and going around the sun, regardless of our desire for it to slow down), but, as Burkeman reminds us, nobody really has time.

To get real and raw, there’s no guarantee that we have another hour or day.

Why pretend like we have endless amounts of time? Why do we believe are draped in a super hero's cape and are capable of more than other humans?

Why do we keep adding more to our already endless to-do lists at the peril of what we say and know are our values and priorities?

FOMO. Fear of Missing Out. 

We've all felt it, and marketers appeal to that fear in their advertising.

I'd better buy this product right now before the price goes up.

I need to sign up for this course because I might need it someday. (counter-argument)

If I buy this book during the 48-hour launch, I'll get all of these free gifts.

Don't Let Fear Rule

The Ethical Move logo | on Art Biz SuccessI took The Ethical Move pledge last year, which promotes more ethical marketing. I vowed, among other things, not to use fear-based marketing. Yes, there will still be enrollment deadlines, but I will never suggest that your success depends on buying my product. (I've talked many a prospective student out of buying.)

I know that you have priorities other than what I may be teaching at the time, and usually add “if it's right for you” to my messages.

I would be a terrible business coach if I encouraged you to buy something you don't need or can't use. I don't want you to feel FOMO because of me. 

Instead, bask in JOMO, the alternative to FOMO. 

Choose JOMO Instead

JOMO is the joy of missing out, as Burkeman calls it, and it asks the following of you.

Ignore all of those unimportant things so that you can come play with me. You GET to be present with me—joyfully—because you made a meaningful choice.

The screams for your attention don’t hold a candle to what your heart, body, and head know about what’s best for you in this moment.

My invitation to you is to adopt a new attitude toward time. One that doesn't require you to do more, but actually asks you to do less so you can pay attention to what is especially important to you.

To get real by embracing JOMO rather than wading in the deep doo-doo that is FOMO. 

Artists Who Got Real, by Example

This theme reminded me of the numerous guests I have had on The Art Biz podcast who have confronted the reality of their limited time, energy, and resources.

Here's a small sampling of those stories that I know will inspire you.

Dawn Williams Boyd

whose work entered the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2021, has been making art long enough to know what it requires of her. Rather than thinking she can do more than is possible, she plans a year’s worth of art at the beginning of every year. Episode 72.

Dawn Williams Boyd sewing | on Art Biz Success

Amelia Furman

realized things were getting out of hand while she was trying to juggle a blooming art career and young children who needed her attention. Something had to change, and she decided to radically simplify her life. Episode 101.

Ali Manning

had a fast-growing business, including a membership community that she was responsible for. It was difficult for her to admit that she needed to hire help, but she ultimately concluded that she needed a team if she wanted to grow. Episode 106.

Maria Coryell Martin

understands that she can't be a productive artist if she doesn't take care of her physical well-being. She maintains a rigorous schedule that allows her to run a profitable art business while raising her small daughter. Episode 111.

Ali Cavanaugh

was represented by 11 galleries at one point, when she realized she was losing control of her pricing and career. She took a big risk to step back and try something that worked better for her. Episode 33.

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This program emphasizes your limited capacity. It’s not about balance. 

It’s about being fulfilled—about enjoying the life of an artist. To do that, you seek to optimize how you spend your precious time.

It’s not a social media course and it’s not about posting more!

2 thoughts on “Facing the Reality that You’re Human and Can’t Do Everything You Want to Do”

  1. OMG! I am reading 4K weeks right now, and am obsessed! It’s like one big ah ha moment after another. I was even getting twitchy and impatient about finishing it – then I hit the section on impatience and laughed out loud! everyone should read it! 🙂

    1. Alyson Stanfield

      A fellow obsessor. So glad to know I’m not alone. (Of course, I know I not. Surely there’s an Oliver fan club somewhere.)

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