As a kid, when I would come home with grades of 98%, I would hear from my folks, “What happened? Did you spell your name wrong?” Fffffsssssssssss…the sound of my immediate and complete deflation.
Recently, when I got a grant, my mother’s reaction was, “Well, it’s better than a kick in the pants.” At least that was less caustic than the response from my father years earlier upon learning I’d received a large fellowship for my artwork, “I guess it beats getting a poke in the eye with a stick.” Well, yes, it certainly did, but his comment was like getting that poke in the eye just the same.
While they did not support my career choice, it’s not as though my parents hated my guts. Perhaps they felt that withholding praise would push me to work even harder, or maybe they believed that encouragement would result in an inflated ego. Whatever the reason, the result was that I became expert in enumerating my shortcomings and found it exceedingly difficult to appreciate any of my own accomplishments.
When I came across a blog post that suggested taking time to “celebrate your wins,” [via: art biz blog ] it caught my eye. Like many people, I self-evaluate and make new lists this time of year, but mostly that has to do with picking up on things left undone and setting goals, and hasn’t necessarily included crediting myself for the year’s “wins,” nor thinking about how I might build upon those successes moving forward.
Congratulating others is important and joining in celebrating their gains is truly great fun but there’s also value in acknowledging your own efforts and advances instead of getting lost under an avalanche of could haves, should haves, and might haves.
So my friends, it’s time to toot those horns. Bravo to all of us who have continued to be creative throughout 2007! And boatloads of praises for all who have found ways to get out there and PARTICIPATE! I have yet to meet the person who could convince me that there’s any advantage to life lived on the sidelines. Going somewhere requires opening the door, after all.
Happy New Year, and wishing you all a healthy, productive and rewarding 2008!
For reference, below is the list of suggestions I looked at to get me going on acknowledging my winsâ€”itâ€™s geared towards visual art, but can obviously be adapted:
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?
Who were the top ten cool or influential people you met?
Did you create a new business card, portfolio, or other marketing piece?
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 new art events, galleries, and museums did you visit?
What resources did you discover?
How did you improve your studio habits?
What books did you read to help your career?
What seminars/workshops/lectures did you attend?
What organizations were you involved with?
What grants/honors/awards did you receive?
What articles were written about your work?
What submissions did you make?
Where did you save a wad of money?
What was the single best thing that happened to your art career in 2007?
P.S. And while you’re making lists, why not think about this:
-Three things you admire in another person or people.
-Three things you can feel good about yourself.
-Three things you wish someone would tell or say to you.
-Three things you should or wish you could say to someone else.