The Dream List
Pete Mosley, author, business editor for craft&design magazine and creative business coach, spends a big part of his working life with artists and makers who want to raise their profile and start working on a whole new level. Success, however you might define that, is all about developing the right frame of mind, making clear decisions about what needs to be done and then, crucially, acting upon those decisions. Here, he describes one of the most successful ‘tools for thinking’ that he uses with artists and makers.
I am a big advocate of boldness. I always encourage the makers I work with to be bold, aim high, and write cheeky letters. What do I mean by cheeky? I guess I mean the sort of letters that stand out for their boldness, enthusiasm and desire to do what it takes to get on in life. Letters that are not shy of asking for help, targeted at those who are in the best place to provide a timely ‘leg up’.
Think about this. Who are your dream clients?
This is a great exercise to do alone, or with partners and collaborators. Get a big sheet of paper and some markers and just write down in bullet point form all of the people you would love to sell stuff to or work with.
Who are the key shops or galleries you would like to work with? Who are your ‘blue chip’ clients – the people that you aspire to work for above all others. Do you want your work in Liberty? Do you want to make guitars for rock stars? Do you want your films to be at the big national and international film festivals? Do you want to exhibit at the V&A? Do you want to be in a national ‘collection’?
Only you will know what these aspirational goals are. Unless you write those goals down, unless you begin thinking about how you might actually achieve them, you will simply end up muddling along. Having a dream list is a really powerful thing. It’s no good having the list, however, if you don’t then work at building those relationships.
Often what stops us in life is much less to do with the quality of our work than with the quality of our courage and ambition. It is really important when you are trying to do something ambitious to find somebody to hold you accountable, to drive you along. Somebody you can meet with regularly to review your goals and make sure that you are actually making some progress. We all need an irritant to keep us moving – the grain of sand in the oyster shell, so to speak. Sometimes our own conscience simply isn’t enough.
Why is this all so difficult? Psychologically speaking, we are actually hardwired to avoid danger, to stay in our comfort zone. The bit of your brain that is responsible for making sure that you stand up straight and that you avoid obstacles and that you continue breathing is hardwired to keep us out of danger. That means every time we try to do something new, something challenging, that bit of our brain kicks in and says no, you don’t want to be doing that, there is a risk involved in that – stay safe, stay within your comfort zone. This is the root of procrastination – and you have got to force yourself to break through that.
Here it is, step by step
- Make your ‘dream list’
- Find someone to hold you accountable – someone you respect
- Work your way through it stage by stage.
- Find out who the gatekeepers are (influential people that can open doors for you) and build relationships with them – step by step.
- Stay close to people who support what you are doing and radiate warmth and energy in your direction
- Stay away from those who drain you or seek to diminish your efforts.
- Be prepared to do things that take you outside your comfort zone.
- Remember – being successful requires that you have to overcome resistance and challenge yourself.
There is a brilliant book about resistance and procrastination called ‘The War of Art’ by an author called Stephen Pressfield. He is a writer and historian but he absolutely understands procrastination and the workings of artist’s block. If you suffer from block you’ll get a lot out of reading this book.
Make the list – and good luck!
Pete’s articles appear in every issue of craft&design magazine, and co-published his book Make Your Creativity Pay with them last year. You can find out more about the book at www.makeyourcreativitypay.com
You may also enjoy similar articles on Pete’s blog at www.creativemusings.co.uk
The Creative Business Explorer is a virtual workspace and guided tour to thinking creatively about the future. It’s full of clever interactive ways to think about your business – and you get downloads, a wide range of useful articles, a 40 minute podcast, ebook, printable worksheets and links.
If you’re aware that you should be thinking ahead in more detail, but writing a business or career plan is a bit scary or leaves you cold, then this toolkit is designed for you.
Find out more at: www.creativebusinessexplorer.com
Filed under: Business Planning, Creative Development, Top Tips | 4 Comments