This last couple of weeks I have had surgery and been on the mend. One of the things that I did with my spare time besides sleep a lot I also got caught up on some videos that go with a class I am taking. One of the videos was a round table of women who were economically successful in creative fields talking about their successes and failures. When I say economically successful I mean they are able to support themselves or make significant contribution to their household’s bottom line in their creative pursuit. I clarify this success because I think it is what we all want to make a living and what we love doing. We want to explore and do something we love, but most of us if we are lucky never get much beyond the break even point if we are lucky. These women were writers, painters, stampers and mixed media artists.
One of the things they talked about is other women often ask them how do they break into their field. It was so interesting in that they said you don’t have a “aha moment” and suddenly you are successful. They all said over and over, that innate talent is always helpful, but more important is persistence.
On my desk and in my planner I have this quote by Calvin Coolidge. It has been a driving philosophy in my life. It hasn’t always made my life easy but it has allowed more success and opportunities that one can imagine.
A divider I made that is in my daily planner.
Long ago, in an almost different lifetime, I was in a session at the Fortune 500 company I worked for at the time. It was for managers they were grooming and developing for the next level of management. During the session it came out that I was the only person who had not graduated from college in the group of managers and directors. One of the gentlemen in the session pointed out to the group that I was an oxymoron being a manager without a degree. I on the other hand thought, I don’t think his college degree helped him in his word choice when selecting oxymoron to describe me, though everyone knew what he meant. It took me a few more years to get to achieve my position, because I had started at the bottom and had persisted in proving that I had the ability to learn and the talent to do the job I wanted.
Persistence has served me well since I have become self-employed. People always say to me it must be nice to have the flexibility you have. It is nice, but it is also somewhat scary. If you don’t work, you don’t get paid. It is not like when I was an employee and if I was having an off day, I could show up to work and get paid, even if I wasn’t hugely productive. Now I am always on the hustle, looking for my next gig. If you don’t ask you won’t get job, so I find myself telling folks I am looking for work, and I might help them. It isn’t like you hang your shingle out there and suddenly there are six people out there begging to hire you at a livable wage. Self-employment isn’t that easy. You have to be persistence in your flexibility to try new things and take risks that sometimes don’t quite make sense or aren’t easy.
That all said, like thousands of you I am not making a living at things I love doing. I’d love to be a writer. I have a small box of reject letters from the days before self-publishing for the e-read. I have a finished book, that needs to be re-worked, polished and edited. I spend several lunch hours each week with a sandwich in my truck reading and marking up changes. I love to be on a design team where I was mailed supplies for my artistic endeavors to try out and make things that inspired others. I have studio space full of paper, pens, ink, canvas, fabric and sewing machines. I have tried lots of things and these are the mediums I enjoy working with, and they make me feel most creative. Here is is where my persistence comes back into play. I spend time in my studio every day. I don’t skip. Some days after work, it may only be 20 minutes. Other days like today, I have carved out hours working on a gift journal I am making and writing my blog post. People say they don’t have time to do….you fill in the blank….. You do. It may not be a lot of time, but you have time. You choose where and how you spend your free time. You have to be persistent because only you can make it happen. More than that persistence of your passion, those things you enjoy, even if it is only 20 minutes, will make the day feel better for you and that is not bad. Not bad at all.