If you are anything like me, you find yourself fighting back the feeling of overwhelm from time to time. What do you usually do when you start to feel overwhelmed? How do you cut through the usual complexity that life brings and find clarity? As we start the New Year, I wanted to take some time to go over some helpful tools and insights that I’ve gained over the years through experience and learning from my peers. I hope that artists like you will find something of value as I share some useful practices and lessons that I’ve gathered over the years.

Beginning with the end in mind

If you want to start finding clarity in your life, it can be helpful to begin with, the end in mind. Too often, people get overwhelmed with the idea of significant change that they give up before they get started. To make big change more manageable, try breaking it down.

Author Annie Dillard once wrote, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour, and that one is what we are doing. A schedule defends from chaos and whim. It is a net for catching days.”

How do you want your year to look? Why not set some goals and start to work your way backward from there? If you’re going to make a trip to another country, start planning out what you need to do each day, week, and month leading up to the trip. What works for trips can work for your art projects as well!

Say no to the right things

One of the hardest lessons that I’ve had to learn over the years is to disappoint the right people and to say “No” to the right things. Let’s face it, you can’t make everyone happy, and you can’t do all of the things! Part of ordering your life and your career is learning how to prioritize your time, energy, and relationships. You may want to take every opportunity that comes your way, but the truth is, that is not sustainable. If you’re going to keep a healthy work-life balance, you need to decide on your priorities and stick to them.

Take action!

One of the worst aspects of getting overwhelmed can be finding yourself frozen with inaction. How do you react when you feel overwhelmed? If you want to make some positive changes in your life, you need to start somewhere. Even if you need to make a small step toward change, take it! I challenge you to write down the one thing that you will do today that will make you feel accomplished. Here are a few examples that you can use:

  • Knock out a small painting like an 8×10 or even a 3×5.
  • Set your studio up for tomorrow, so you are ready to go.
  • Open your sketchbook up and sketch for just 15 minutes.
  • Prepare canvases for the weekend, so you are ready to paint.
  • Choose one small section of that large painting that you will resolve today.
  • Write that email that you’ve been avoiding.
  • Make that decision that you’ve been agonizing over.

These examples are just intended to get you started. Pick an action step that makes sense for you – but don’t put it off!

Outline of This Episode

  • [2:30] I give a shoutout to a few listeners.
  • [6:40] Why you need to figure out your life design.
  • [9:00] Where are your priorities?
  • [11:30] I describe my ideal day.
  • [19:20] Finding clarity and focus.
  • [22:00] Saying “No” to the right things.
  • [24:00] Action steps you can take today!
  • [26:00] Closing thoughts.

This episode sponsored by FASO

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Antrese Wood


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