Since I started with the interview series on what success in the arts or related creative industries might look like I got an overwhelming response of people asking me if there are things left out in the editing process or if there are other behind the scenes or learnings I could share. Well, here you go:
I started the project with a list where the gender ratio was pretty balanced. During the interviews, however, we talked a lot about that most success narratives are told by men who get frequently interviewed on "hustle-hard-podcasts" while women usually just get to listen to these stories. Therefore the first 10 interviews will be exclusively conducted with woman who have valuable thoughts to share. I am very interested to see some male opinions in the future and see how they differ. I actually asked already a few male colleagues who did not want to appear in the interview series as they felt they're not in a successful moment in their lives, even though they're considered experts in their fields, which surprised me very much. Some of them told me to ask them again once they make their public appearance through a project or book - which is not necessarily the open and honest approach I'm interested in. Success is not a constant presentation of your collected shiny pennies, the road does get bumpy and yes sometimes we just don't know how things turn out - we are all in this together.
Scheduling time to take care of yourself is essential, whatever this time might look like for you. Get enough sleep, nourish and move your body, find ways to cope with stress, exercise to find peace of mind despite all the troubles. One of the biggest risks to our productivity is probably back pain: it’s now among the leading cause of ill-health globally according to several studies. Learn how to strengthen your physical core and find a balance between bodily movement and mental work.
You can't succeed alone
All the interviewee rely on a strong network of people they trust, share the same values with and who provide some sort of emotional or financial safety net to catch them in times of failure. A large fraction of projects are found through connections and many are probably never advertised, they are only available through connections. That said, most of the people I talked to agreed that they are not very good in networking for networking's sake, they rather prefer deep conversations and meaningful relationships with others. Connecting with others over a bigger purpose can be very bonding.
There is no one-definition-fits-all when it comes to what success looks like in the arts or in any creative field. Almost everybody in the interviews agreed that a certain financial level is needed to pay the necessities like health insurance, rent, student loans, provide for a family and not needing to worry about the day to day. A certain level of revenue translates directly into peace of mind, energy, time and well-being. However, that doesn't mean that success is just reached by making six-figures.
For others success might be connected with visibility, responsibility, influence, greater purpose, access to a broader network, learning new skills, recognition, and freedom.
No it doesn't get easier with the time, you just learn to trust your gut and to learn how to cope with your inner monsters. Ask yourself how you can make it easier for yourself and build a safe environment where you're able to grow and fail.
Moments of stillness
Batch your time e.g. try to have all your meetings in one or two days, then block out solid stretches of time for focused work. Schedule moments of stillness into your week. In order to put creative output into the world, you need to experience life. Schedule down-time where your mind can wonder, become curious about something and where you're allowed to look into things that are not necessarily goal driven. Read a book, go for a walk, experience boredom...
Protect your core values and beliefs
Your values and beliefs create a system that will guide you through life. Define them, hold them close and visit them frequently. They might actually change over the time, so set aside some time to re-evaluate them every year. What do you think a good life consists of? What is a good person? What are the qualities you aspire to develop? What qualities do you seek in your work environment and life? Where are the limits of what you're willing to sacrifice for success?
You are more than your profession
In conversation with colleagues who are entering a new period of their lives, establishing a family, building a house or having to re-evaluate their decisions due to an unforeseen change, assured they didn't see it coming that one decision could affect other areas in their life so much. Your goals do not have to be necessarily connected to your career, but the choice of how you design your career goals will always impact your lifestyle.
Always keep in mind the following:
- You’ll change and you're priorities, probably more than you think.
- The world will change
- You can't predict how something will go without trying
- Circumstances might change but nobody and nothing can take away your skills