One thing successful artists have in common is “vision”. Having a vision is absolutely essential to an artistic career because it’s generally such a self-directed endeavor. Successful artists know exactly how they want the music to sound, what the painting should look like, how the dance should make it’s audience feel. Because they see or hear it themselves in their head. They feel it in their gut. I recently saw the movie This Is It. No matter what you think about Michael Jackson, he was an artist with a vision. He knew what he wanted his audience to experience. He shared that vision with his collaborators, using language that had a visceral quality, so they could help him make the vision come to life. “Let it simmer,” he said of one measure, instead of saying “hold that a beat longer”. He could see it. He could feel it. And, as a result, others could too.
Artists do not have the luxury of having a nice, neat corporate career path laid out for them. You do, but is that really the best thing for you? If you follow that path, will you look back in a few (or many) years and realize you have a skill and knowledge set that is someone else’s dream (for you or for themselves) instead of your dream? Do not get lulled into this. That is not to say that there are not fulfilling, long-term careers in the corporate world. There are. But the most fulfilling ones are those that are self-directed.
Do you have a career vision? Do you know what kind of work you want to do next month? Next year? Now, at year-end, when we take stock and make resolutions – this is a good time to spend some time thinking about our career vision, and what we can do over the next year to live that vision, or at least move toward it. And perhaps even writing these things down. It’s amazing the power putting something in writing has. Even if you are not (yet) ready to share it with anyone else.
Start today. Remember, you are the author, the painter, the choreographer of your own career.