Show me a successful person and I’ll show you someone who is serious about their personal development and health. As I’ve always said your journey as an artist, especially a successful one, begins by focusing inwardly. In my book Secrets of the Art World, I’ve shared several tips that I hope will help artists make internal changes and shifts that will manifest themselves outwardly with big results. And today I’d like to share a few those tips for living a more balanced, healthy, and productive life as an artist:
Whether you prefer walking, running, yoga, dance, aerobic classes, swimming, spin classes, or going to work out on a machine at the gym, it doesn’t matter. As long as you do something, anything. Exercise gets the blood flowing in your body. It charges the brain, and naturally, cleanses your body from toxins. Don’t think of it as a distraction or diversion, consider it a necessary and vital part of the creative process.
2. Eat well.
I can’t emphasize this enough. (Maybe because I am Greek, I have an edge on this.) But, the Mediterranean diet is no joke. By eating healthy, whole, non-processed foods, rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, dark green leafy vegetables, fresh fish, meats, and oils, as well as fruits, I’ve managed to maintain my health and weight. Moderation is key too. It’s tempting to want to reward yourself with sweets or alcohol for a long day’s work, but consider your treat a healthy, nourishing meal. By eating healthy, you’ll have more energy to create. You’ll feel better about yourself, and you’ll enjoy healthier days than sick ones throughout the year—all the better to help with your work!
3. Create a beautiful, inspiring environment to do work.
Again, I am biased here, but I absolutely believe that where you work is crucial to your ability to produce and create. By making your space beautiful, open, tidy, and inspiring, you’re creating a space that invites creativity.
I don’t need to elaborate here too much. One of the biggest ways to lose your concentration is by not getting enough sleep. In this work, work, work, work world we live in, it’s easy to neglect rest periods. However, we were designed to have a built-in rest period in our day. If we don’t use it, we get sick, feel unbalanced, and eventually our ability to create suffers. Sleep. Rest. Listen to your body. Don’t push through exhaustion. It’s unnecessary and can be costly.
5. Avoid procrastination.
One of the leading causes of artistic failure is procrastination. Putting off the work that needs to be done can become a way of life, and before you know it the work never gets done. I am not saying it’s easy. The best deterrent to procrastination is establishing a routine and a schedule. By setting an exact time to start and end work each day and doing it consistently you will overcome the resistance to work. It will become an automatic process. By setting a realistic time schedule each day to work within, you’ll avoid burnout too.
6. Get organized.
Invest in a day planner or an online software calendar. Plan your month in advance, then break it down by weeks, and days. Then each morning make a small to-do list. Adding too many things in a day may leave you feeling overwhelmed and discouraged, and you may even avoid the list-making process altogether. Simply list 3 absolute-must-dos each day, and schedule those things into your day before the day even starts. That way you actually do them, because you’ve scheduled them and made time for them. Also, by scheduling time to do things like work, exercise, eat healthfully, if someone comes to you and asks you to do something, you can respectfully decline, because you have something “scheduled.” By making yourself and your career a priority—and scheduled in black and white—you’ll be less likely to let others interfere with your time or success.
7. Take yourself on an Artist Date.
The great author of the famed The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron recommends taking weekly “artist dates.” And I’d like to take it one step further. Regularly find places that inspire you and instruct you, and spend time there. Whether it’s a gallery, art museum, park, funky boutique, local coffee shop, or a local celebration or festival, you can find inspiration everywhere. Soak up your surroundings and see what they can teach you. Treat yourself. Also, consider rewarding yourself with a special trip after a job well done. By giving yourself rewards and something to look forward to you’ll be more likely to complete the project.
8. Get inspired, while staying informed.
I cannot recommend attending trade shows, conferences, workshops, and seminars enough. I believe you should schedule yourself for at least one trade show, conference, seminar, or workshop a year. Whether it’s to enhance your business acumen, your artistic technique, or expand your network, these events are invaluable.
9. Read books.
This is probably the least expensive, yet most powerful way to get and stay inspired. As the great Zig Ziglar said, “People often say that motivation doesn't last. Well, neither does bathing—that's why we recommend it daily.” Books are a great way to stay inspired. All you need is a library card and you have access to the greatest minds and mentors in the world. By scheduling time to read each day, you’ll be amazed how much you can read in one year. Many years ago I joined a group of like-minded women who meet monthly to discuss our books. We meet each month to discuss books that encourage and inspire us to be better leaders, business women, and compassionate humans.
10. Be social.
When we enjoy strong social support, we can accomplish impressive feats of resilience and even extend our lives. Researchers have found that social support has as much effect on life expectancy as smoking, high blood pressure, obesity and physical activity. In other words, don’t ignore your friendships or your family. By building and maintaining strong social and emotional bonds you’ll remember why you do what you do. You’ll find your work more fulfilling and you’ll focus on what really matters.
Kick off your year of living a balanced, healthy productive life as an artist right here at ADC. Mingle, network, and with fellow artists at our upcoming Art Comes Alive Awards on October 13-14, 2017. We have incredible events specifically created to honor and celebrate the lives of artists like you. I hope to see you there!