Happy New Year, or as we say in Hawai’i, Hauloi makahiki hou!*

Journal page from a recent class with Judy WiseAs many of us do this time of year, I’ve been taking a look back at all I accomplished, but also those things that slipped away. I often hear from friends and even strangers how amazed they are at all I cram into my limited time considering that I have another job on top of making my art and teaching. You are everywhere! is a phrase I hear often and while that can be good, it might also be a sign that I’m spreading myself too thin. I think 2008 will have to be more about balance. I made good progress with that last year, but more work can be done, and I have a plan to help me succeed.

One of my big problems is that I have trouble saying no. Big trouble. Can you build a web page for our event? Sure. Serve on our Board of Directors? No problem. Volunteer a few hours a month? Of course. Now don’t get me wrong, all of this is good stuff and I don’t intend to stop doing all of it, but if I ever want to make a living from my art and let the other job go, then I have to be more restrained about where I offer my time and energy.

With this in mind I’ve been trying to come up with a more objective way of evaluating opportunities and requests for my time. My quest is to make a living through my art, so I came up a Quest Test. I’ve decided that before I consider any new opportunity, it should satisfy at least 2 of the following criteria:

Linda’s Quest Test

1. Does it feed my soul/creativity?

2. Does it further my art career?

3. Does it pay me a living wage?

4. Does it improve my health and well being?

5. Is it good for my family?

For example, every year I participate in a city wide art walk. Using the criteria above, it satisfies #1, #2 & #3, but a small sale at a local school won’t be on the agenda this year because when I break it down, it satisfies none of them. So why have I done it for two years? Because other people told me it was a “good show.” Maybe it is for them, but now I know it’s not for me so I can save a lot of work for little payoff. Of course with new shows or craft fairs you may have to try them once to get enough information to use the test, but once you have enough info be ruthless!

You may need to adjust the questions in your version of the test. To see if the one above works for you, pick at least three things you’ve taken part in this year that you know in your heart were good to participate in. Now choose three bad ones. Does the test hold up? If not adjust the questions until they work for you. For example, when I started with the test I only had the first three items. What if I want to have a regular exercise hour or go on vacation? Those would have failed the original test! Items #4 and #5 remind me to enjoy life while I’m getting where I want to be professionally.

So, what do you think? Am I missing any questions or do you have a different way of achieving the same type of result? I’d love to hear about it. I’m open to suggestions.

I wish you all a prosperous, balanced, and happy new year!

* Yes, I’m from Hawai’i, specifically from Kailua, a little beach town on O’ahu