The Art Biz ep. 60: Reclaiming Your Year — Even Now

I'm a planner. If you've taken any of my courses, or even read my book, you anticipate that there will be at least one plan involved. Often with every lesson or chapter. It doesn’t do much good to learn a bunch of stuff without figuring out how to implement it right away. In fact, that’s more like consuming than learning.

In talking with my students and clients, I know how devastating this year has been. Of course, I didn't really have to talk with them to know that their plans had been stomped on, but it helps to get the full picture.

Abstract painting by Kathleen Ellen Theriault
©Kathleen Ellen Theriault, Connection I. Mixed media on Arches oil paper, 7 x 5 inches. Used with permission.

The pandemic has wreaked havoc on everyone's plans. Canceled shows and travel. Shuttered studios and exhibition spaces. The spouse used to leave for work and give you space, but now you're stumbling over one another. And the kids! Suddenly the kids are at home and you are tasked with the awesome responsibility of their education.

You're on Zoom all of the time, so that brief sigh of relief you felt for not having to get dressed and put on makeup was short-lived.

In the early days of the outbreak, I encouraged my clients and students to plan just 1 week at a time. We didn't know what was going to happen. How long things would be closed. I wanted them to control what they could and not worry about months ahead.

We now know that Covid is going to be with us for the foreseeable future. The planner in me said, Okay! Time for a new plan!

Swirly Yellow Line

Artist Planning Sessions

Three times a year. Let's make a plan that's right for you.

Swirly Yellow Line

This is one of the special episodes of the Art Biz Podcast that I've added since Covid hit—a topic that will help you stay in control of your art business.

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Music by Wildermiss

Why We Don't Make Plans

I want to dive into the many reasons why we don't plan in the first place, all of which I've experienced at one time or another.

Let's start with what might be the biggest reason you might not be planning: Because you can't control the outcome.

You figure: It's probably not going to work out for me anyway. Plans have never worked for me in the past, so why would they work now? Why even bother?

Burnt drawing by Chrstine Shannon Aaron
©2017 Christine Shannon Aaron, Remains. Burnt drawing on hand-dyed indigo paper, wax, 10 x 8 inches. Used with permission.

Who could blame you? All you have to do is point to everything that has gone down in 2020 and your reasons would be confirmed. No one could have predicted that life would have thrown such a curveball to the entire planet.

A pandemic isn't the only thing that could foil your plans. A loved one gets sick, you get sick, your gallery closes, a storm washes out the art festival and drowns your dreams.

You Never Could Control The Outcome

Here's the thing. You never could control the outcome. You can only control your actions. You can do your best to prepare, meet all of the deadlines, and show up as your best self. But you can’t control what goes on outside of your actions that might contribute to or take away from your success.

You’ve always had to adapt, and now is no different.

Another reason that making plans hasn’t worked in the past could be that those plans were the wrong plans for you. Think about it. Did your plan include things that you thought you should be doing, but never felt right?

Or maybe you made those fancy plans, tried to stick with them for a few days or weeks, but then got sidetracked by life. We all know what this is like. You closed out the document and forgot about it. Your intentions were never implemented. Whatever happened, you lost faith in the process.

Handpainted grandfather clock by Cindy Revell
©Cindy Revell, Cosmic Terrestrius (Grandfather Clock). Used with permission.

As far as what we’re all going through now, it's more than okay to be sad about what you've lost, but I'd like to help give you a little control so that you don't lose anymore time or opportunities. The world keeps turning and we aren't getting any younger. I'd hate for you to  sit back and wait for the perfect moment to take action—mostly because there's no such thing as the perfect moment. But that's a whole other topic.

Crap! This Is Overwhelming!

Let's say that you're game. You'd like to try business planning again but you don't know how to do it.

Do you just write out a list of things you wish would happen? Do you type it up on your computer? If so, what program do you use? Or would that college-ruled notebook in your closet be better? Should there be columns? An outline?

Once you think you've committed to the right tools for you, you start thinking about what needs to be in a plan. And then you ask: Do I need to update my goals first? (Remember those?) How detailed do I need to be? How much is too much?

You realize you've opened up the floodgates. Everything is possible. Crap! This is overwhelming.

The realization that your future is a blank slate is, to say the least, mind blowing. You really can start over. You really can do something entirely different than what you thought you should be doing. Everything is possible.

This is enough to keep you from facing the plan. So you avoid it. Like. The. Plague. The plague that is upon us.

You Don't Have Time to Plan

At this point you begin to see planning as frustrating, nerve-wracking, and anxiety-inducing and not worthy of your time and attention.

After all, you’re busy enough as it is. There is so much to do as a professional artist: researching, learning, bookkeeping, and marketing.

It's not fair to have a single placeholder for marketing because it involves so much, as you know. Everything from updating your website, to sending emails, to making calls, to posting on social media. It's a full-time job in itself.

And we haven't even mentioned the reason you have an art business in the first place: Your art. That studio time must be your top priority.

I haven't even gotten around to the cooking, cleaning, exercising, parenting, and care-taking.

Going Through the Motions

You're focused on working your task list, which sounds good, but you're just checking things off rather than taking the time to make sure those tasks are still relevant for you.

Is it important that you continue to do the same things in the same way? Even if they are no longer working? Even if you long ago lost interest in them? If you don't plan, that's what you'll be doing.

Cats and suffrage painting by Julie Dzikiewicz
©2020 Julie Dzikiewicz, Suffrage Cat. Encaustic mixed media, 60 x 60 inches.

Yep, you’re busy. We’re all busy. And as I’ve said many times: Being busy is boring. Everybody is busy. Everybody is distracted. Everybody wants to do more.

What’s more interesting is being an artist who is committed to growth and improvement, one day at a time.

Don't let the plague spoil your future.

This year is worth saving and a plan could help you feel more empowered. More in control of your art business.

Music by Wildermiss

Planning Sessions

If you can make the time to plan for yourself, great! But if the way you've been making plans in the past hasn't worked for you or if you'd like some guidance on what to put in your plan, as well as some tools, templates, and options for making it work for you, please join me for Artist Planning Sessions.

This is a series of 4 planning sessions that I'll walk you through with the end result of a customized plan for your art business. Set aside the time to do the work and use the energy within the group to nail a plan that works for you.

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4 thoughts on “The Art Biz ep. 60: Reclaiming Your Year — Even Now”

  1. I laughed out loud at parts of this. Did you crawl into my squirrely mind? Because you nailed it!
    “Do you just write out a list of things you wish would happen? Do you type it up on your computer? If so, what program do you use? Or would that college-ruled notebook in your closet be better? Should there be columns? An outline?”….yup…I can get stuck right here…and thinking too much on the “perfect” tools versus what will work and what will work NOW.
    “Everything is possible. Crap! This is overwhelming.” Yes. Especially in these tumultuous times. Who doesn’t feel like they are just keeping their noses above water?
    But especially this!!
    “Yep, you’re busy. We’re all busy. And as I’ve said many times: Being busy is boring. Everybody is busy. Everybody is distracted. Everybody wants to do more.” But this just means it’s even more important to recalibrate, choose the things I need to let go of, and stick to the things I prioritize. Looking forward to reclaiming my plan in this program!

    1. Alyson Stanfield

      Yes, Christine! I’ve been in your brain. Honestly, I couldn’t write articles like this without having worked with artists for 3+ decades and experiencing a little of it myself. Glad you can join me!

  2. Yes!

    Thanks, Alyson, for another useful and encouraging podcast.

    I love making plans too!

    Setting goals and implementing steps on how to reach those goals may seem nerve-wracking but are imperative to moving forward in our business, pandemic or no pandemic.

    Looking forward to hearing more from you.

    1. Alyson Stanfield

      So happy to hear that this resonated, Kim. Hope you can join us for the Reclaim Your Year planning sessions.

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