Do you dream up big long to-do lists of things that need fixing or tweaking before you present your work, before you submit to that agent, before you write that grant, or before you reach out to those potential gigs?
Is this you?
I know this song and dance really because I've caught myself at this frequently over the last few years and have begun correcting it.
I have to say, I can work myself to the point of exhaustion with all kinds of tasks in avoidance of those things that might actually move my career forward. But I got fed up with working so hard and then having no real results to show for it. And so I've figured out the secret to not doing it and I'm going to share it with you because I don't think I'm alone.
So, are you tired of feeling like you're doing all the wrong work?
Ok, here we go. I'll explain what's happening:
In a professional creative life, it's easy to let your wily imaginative mind take over and dream up all sorts of tasks you need to do that may or may not make a big difference in your success. It's easy to give yourself all sorts of creative excuses and "must haves" before you do work that will actually move your career forward. It's easy to do everything else, but . . .
The one thing that really scares you!
But here's the thing:
Often it is the one thing that really scares you that is the thing you need to do most.
So how do you know when you're wasting your time or moving forward on stuff that actually matters? Well, I've created a little cheat sheet for you below:
Potential Time Wasters
(Do These Later)
making your website better
re-doing your business cards (again)
thinking you "should" finish that piece, but eating a block of cheese instead
trying to lose five pounds before you book your promo photo shoot
making any other excuses before booking your photo shoot or doing other things you're procrastinating on
making work or doing things to impress your peers or compete with them
browsing the internet to research other artists and potential gigs. . . then not making a list or following up
Things That Actually Matter
(Do These Today)
practicing your craft
going to an event to see an artist you might like to work with - then talking to them afterwards
your creative work (but actual work, not just browsing Facebook and growing increasingly less inspired)
writing an email to that grant director/producer/agent introducing yourself
giving yourself a do-or-die deadline and finishing that piece (Remember: no work is ever really finished, only abandoned. So give yourself a deadline to be done with it.)
browsing the internet for festivals you'd like to play at - then writing a letter of inquiry to at least one of them
calling an artist friend who is a little more successful than you and asking if you can "pick their brain" about a few things - then getting the low down on how they got where they are and inquiring if they could potentially use you in something
exercising your creative muscles by making a new piece in just one day
Are you getting the idea here?
The real secret is following those things that are going to feed you: mentally, creatively, and of course, monetarily.
So this week as you plan your to-do list, take a look at it with fresh eyes and ask yourself: will this thing here feed me? Will it feed my soul or put groceries in my fridge?
Draw the hard line. I'm rooting for you;)
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