Monday, January 17, 2011

Defining Success

Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day! While we still have to work on paintings and such today, we'll be taking extra time to contemplate the awesomeness of this great Civil Rights leader who kicked tons of butt and really fought for the changes he wanted made in the world. We hope you will too! Anyway, on to the talk about success:

When we think of success, we generally think of people who are well known, rich, famous, or leaders in their fields. We think about great contributions to humanity, or ground-breaking innovations, or work of cultural significance.

When we think of success, we generally think of all the people we admire, people who have what we (think we) want, who everyone else is heralding as being successful.

But what does success really mean for you?

This is a very important question that can help align (or realign) what your goals and hopes are. If you want to be successful, the first step, before taking any action whatsoever, is figuring out the answer to that question.

Does success mean money? If so, then would you be successful if you just worked your way up a Fortune 500 and made a boatload of money? What about if you managed to pull off an armored truck robbery?

Does success mean fame? If so, would you be successful if you were famous as a Hollywood actor? What about if you were famous for blowing up a city?

Our point is that when we think of success, we generally think in really broad terms. Money, power, fame, etc. But, what we really need to do to achieve that level of success is to break it down into concrete terms.

Success is really a personal, subjective idea. What if you were rich and famous and powerful, but you hated yourself and your job and no one loved you? Would you be successful then? If so, would it be worth it?

To answer that question, be specific. Very specific. By being suuuuper specific you can then figure out individual goals and the steps to achieve that success. This way, you'll have a concrete path that you can stay on to make sure you make it all the way through ON YOUR TERMS.

Becoming successful on your terms (and no one else's) is quite important, as this is probably the only way that you'll make it and still be happy with yourself. If success is just an end goal, and that's all you care about, then you'll make sacrifices and choices that might get you to that goal, but you won't be happy.

Have a conversation with yourself. Ask yourself "What does it mean for you to consider yourself successful?" If you answer "To be a professional artist that makes a living off of their art," then you could follow up with "Well then how about being a sculptor that makes toilet bowls for a living? You'd be living off your art."

We imagine your reply to then be "No, I want to paint for a living."
"What about painting portraits."
"No, I want to paint dogs."
"Well, what about painting a series of chihuahuas?"
"No, I only like Pomeranians."
"So what about painting portraits of people's Pomeranians?"
"No, I don't want to paint what other people want me to paint. I want to be my own art director."
"So then you want to be a fine artist who paints Pomeranians?"
"Yes, but I want to paint them with coffee."
"Okay, so you want to be a fine artist who paints Pomeranians with coffee."
"And I want to sell a lot of paintings."
"Like 30 of them?"
"Hmm, enough to make a living off of them."

There. Now you know you're a fine art painter who paints pomeranians with coffee, and your measure of success is to be able to live off your sales of pomeranian coffee paintings. Your goals are much clearer, and now that you have a concrete goal, you can now start making the steps to reach that goal. Market research. Actually making the paintings. Putting together press kits and an online portfolio. Photographing the paintings. Etc. etc .etc. (Although to be perfectly honest, you could probably keep on going with that conversation and you could be even more specific, but you get the idea).

While you might not be into Pomeranian coffee paintings, you are probably into something else. Whether it's being a creative writer who ghostwrites for Stephen King, or a comedian who is featured in a major, top-grossing motion picture, or an illustrator who makes $80k a year and has a client list that includes the New Yorker and Wired, it's up to you. But define your own personal measure of success. It's the first step to being successful.

Now it's time to ask yourself: How do you define success?


Jen (Mama's Magic Studio) said...

This is such an important question! I'm still struggling with my answer. Thanks for helping to start my morning off right with your insights and humor!

durga said...

Nice Blog! Well most of your content and image is original and informative. /many thanks for sharing this, cheers.
oil Painting

Anonymous said...

such a great post:) i think my personal definition of success is to own bookstore. that's all I want:) I will try to make some smaller concrete goals that will put me closer to that goal.

Monkey + Seal said...

Thanks for stopping by everyone!

Jen - Glad we could start your day off on the right foot.

Dura - Thanks!

Who.knows - Sweet! Let us know when you open it and we'll spread the word!