Planning to Fight Artistic Stagnation: Part 2

Welcome back to the battlegrounds my good readers. It’s been a slow and steady fight this week with little ground gained, yet we must persevere, and so here is part 2 of the dramatic journey into Artistic Planning. … What’s that? You weren’t with me last week? In that case, part 1 is right here, in the last news post. But if you don’t want to sift through all that nonsense about my intimate relationship with McGill University then here’s the short version:

Part 1:

Your plan must be flexible because it will change, sometimes drastically. It’s guaranteed. But just because it will change, doesn’t make today’s plan of action any less valid!

This might seem self-apparent to you but this notion of rigid planning scares away a lot of people who want to maintain an open mind and don’t want a “plan” to dictate their lives. So good news for all you people, you can still devise a very well thought-out, detailed plan without being a slave to it! Besides, if it’s a plan that reflects your true nature and desires, then a lot of points will remain constant even when plans change drastically.

So don’t go painting me with your “dogmatic, half-German, over-planning control-freak” brush yet all you doubters!

So, “ist was folgend?”… ahem… I meant, “what’s next?” you ask:

Part 2:

Self-analysis. Your plan is (hopefully) based on what you want for yourself. It’s your life, and yes, it’s short, so what’s your dream? How would your life, and your art, play out in ideal circumstances?

For many of us, this is a very difficult question to answer. But some degree of analysis is involved in almost every artist self-help book I’ve read, (and I’ve read quite a few of’em!). And no, “Self-analysis” doesn’t really sound like a fun way to spend a Friday night, it sounds more like something you do all alone, in a dark room with a blue silk scarf covering your bed-side lamp, one hand writing in a diary while clutching your old stuffed animal, Howard the Duck, in the other.

But let’s not do that. Instead of that we’re going to do what Mark Busse recommended to me recently:

The Personal S.W.O.T. Analysis

which stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats. Basically, you just write out a list (as it applies to you) under each heading. For more information about how to do one, click here, here, or here.

You can do this in as little as 20 minutes and the lists can be as brief or as detailed as you like. (It also has the advantage of requiring neither silk scarf nor stuffed duck.) For me, the Strengths and Weaknesses sections were pretty straightforward. The Opportunities section however needed a few revisions as my initial list was kind of boring. There were a number of opportunities that didn’t interest me and those that did were too vague. And this leads me to …

Part 2B:

Thinking Beyond Your Current Reality.

Whenever I hear someone say “I’m just being realistic”, in regards to what they can accomplish in their lives/career, I cringe inside. Too often “realism” is just a way we legitimize negative thinking, especially when referring to ourselves. If you really want to create a plan worth getting excited about then you’ll probably have to confront a lot of self-defeating thoughts and self-imposed limitations.

There are a number of interesting books which cover this subject in depth, “The Last Word On Power” is one in particular that I would recommend to all of those who are interested in doing something presently “impossible.” The beginning of this book talks about your “winning strategy” (*Spoiler Alert!: Your “winning strategy” which has helped you to achieve many of your past successes is likely holding you back from achieving the “impossible.”)

Anyways, I’m going to skip ahead and leave you with the principles of “Designing Your Game.”

Principle #1: Assume you will fail at this game.
Principle #2: Something within the game has to be more important than something else.
Principle #3: The game you design must be currently impossible, and you must be passionate about engaging in it.
Principle #4: The bold promises you make should have challenging time frames.
Principle #5: The game must be large enough in scope to hold all of your other accountabilities inside it.

I may expand on this next week. Until then, goodnight.


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