Artist Resources

4 Ways to Make Creative Plans for the Long Term

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So you’ve made your creative New Year’s resolution, you’ve figured out simple ways to stick to those resolutions, and you’ve tidied up your workspace. Now it’s time to think about the long term.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the daily grind of day jobs, creative side-gigs, and mountains of overwhelming feelings that suddenly 6 months have flown by and you’ve been living in the same routine, while having not accomplished any of your big creative goals. With that in mind, this post will lay out 4 tips for good places to start when you’re designing your own big picture plan. You’ve probably had vague ideas for a long term creative plan but never stated it overtly. If you’ve been working with a general sense of what you want your life to be like in 5 or 10 years, now is the time to figure out where these ideas came from, what you’re doing about them, and when you might start to see the fruits of your labors.

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1. “Big Picture” thinking is not just for big business

When you hear “big picture” you might imagine board rooms and a whole lot of suits and ties. Instead, think of it as something anyone can engage in. Thinking big picture simply asks you to reflect on a few key ideas:

  • Where do you want to be in 5 and 10 years? What do you want to be doing? Do you want to have expanded a creative freelancing business into a creative agency? Do you want to finally learn how to operate your own printing press? Perhaps you’d like to add juggling into repertoire?
  • How will you contribute to the world? What will make it a better/changed/more interesting place? What’s your thing that will tie all your other projects to your main mission? it might sound dramatic, but what is your legacy?
  • Make a mission statement — basically is a consolidated declaration of your bigger picture plan. Make sure you can apply your plan to what you do each and every day.

2. Don’t be afraid

This is probably simultaneously the easiest and the hardest step to follow. Don’t be afraid. Aim high. It’s so easy to say, “don’t be scared,” or “don’t worry,” but if you’re investing years of your life into your dream, it’s easy to play it cautious. A way I got through this after art school was to know that creating a meaningful life filled with creativity meant dealing with a lot of uncertainty for a period of time. It means that we are all knowingly risking financial security, potentially stable housing, or a regular income for a larger goal we perceive as ultimately more valuable. While being able to jump into an artistic life makes us incredibly privileged, it’s also good to know that any fears you have about a creative life are founded in well-measured concern. Take a breath and acknowledge everything you’ve put on the line — and then jump right in.

3. Find your niche

Take the time to find your audience. This could take months or even years to discover. Once you find five or ten fans who seem to just get and adore what you make, try to figure out what it is they like about your work and use that inform your future decisions.

4. Be practical

Make your plan measurable and achievable. Instead of saying, “I’m just going to make WAY more artwork in 2016,” say, “I am going to upload at least one new artwork a week to my Redbubble shop.” Be practical. Take it one step at a time. Just make sure those steps are actually moving toward a realistic goal.

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What advice do you have for our community? Let us know in the comments.

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