Photograph by D. Sharon Pruitt

When I was first committed to the notion of being an artist I figured I would know “I really made it” once my work was displayed in a gallery or museum.  What else could I possibly want?!

As you can imagine, after I reached my goal I thought, now what?  Am I successful now?  What else do I want to achieve as an artist?  Each goal I achieve (or don’t) opens the door to “what next?”  This inevitably leads me back to the notion of success.  If I keep reaching for goals and setting new ones, am I ever really successful?

One thing we all can do to avoid this circular feeling is to have a large, overarching goal.  For me, I would like to financially survive off of my creative endeavors. So while I achieve small and not-so-small goals along my way, I remind myself that they are all to work towards my dream of being a self-sustaining artist.

It’s important to know for yourself what you are aiming for. It is easy to lose sight of why you are making such an effort.  Holding  faith that all of your effort is building up to something bigger and better can sustain you in tougher times.

Recently I lost sight of my big picture.  I have been blessed with opportunity as of late.  All of these small things can build up and get overwhelming.  Yet, at the end of the day I create because I love it, because I feel compelled to make art. If my overarching goal no longer meshes with my love of creative spirit… maybe it is time for a new goal?!  This does not mean I have failed to be successful, it means my circumstance and needs have changed.

Even if I never reach my goal I can be happy and proud that I keep my passion alive and thriving.  Disappointment is a reality of life we all need to embrace on some level.  I can tell you I don’t believe in failing and I am going to work really hard to make my dream become reality.  Hopefully that desire will lead to the greener pastures I have deemed “success.”  I believe hard work pays off… I see it in my classroom every day.

So, what is success to me?  I’m still hoping I’ll know it when I get there, but I also have a measurable goal (a financial amount to strive for and no I am not telling you how much 🙂 ) that will affirm my success once I reach it.  How will you know you’ve “made it?”

How do you define success?

BE COURAGEOUSLY CREATIVE: What do you REALLY want for yourself?  Review the article How to Measure Success to help you create a goal to meet on your way to success.