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Snapshots : Art Careers in Transition

Snapshots of Art Careers in Transition

By Barbara Bowen

Snapshots

It's hard to change, at first.

When change is calling, artists often need support in navigating the pull of two different directions. We artists want to answer the call, but we also prefer to stay in familiar territory — precisely because it is familiar. The circumstances of our creative project, job or direction may change drastically. If so, it is highly important that we adapt to the changing circumstances and switch course. But we have to work through resistance in order to do that, and sometimes it's hard.

Fear of change can immobilize us; the antidote is to take action.

Fear can actually be good for art careers in transition. Fearing things may get worse can prompt us into action. It can prompt us to get the artist support we need. But fear is not good when it's so intense that it weighs us down. It's often unwise to wait until we are "ready" for change. It's often better to look 90 degrees to the right or left and take that first step into the unknown. As an Artist Career and Creativity Coach, I often notice that clients feel a sense of undertow during their first steps — a strong pull to maintain old habits (i.e. to keep the Creatively-draining job, or stay mired in relationships that run counter to their Creative core.) No matter what we feel, it's important to take a deep breath, and begin to move...slowly.

The good news is: it gets easier.

Once we are past the gate, the art career in transition feels easier. We come to realize that it's actually safer to stumble around in the newness than to remain where we were. We begin to wonder what the heck took us so long to move out of the stagnant position! Movement takes us out of fear and into the moment. Our energy is transferred from fear to problem solving. And the journey feels better and better.

The bad news: it ain't over yet.

New desired outcomes rarely come fresh out of the gate. It takes some time. Often clients seeking art support form a new, desirable vision that doesn't pan out in the short run. This can be very discouraging. The fear may creep back in at this point, to a rather high pitch. We might start imagining a frightening scenario. At this point, there is a strong tendency to revert back to old situations no longer working. Now it's most crucial to keep faith that the new direction will bring results. We must look into the fears born of our imaginations — stare them down, and laugh them off. It greatly helps artists to imagine actions they would take if unafraid, and then do them.! As Eleanor Roosevelt said, "We must do the thing we think we cannot do." Many an artist in transition, upon learning to sustain through discomfort, will discover help and nourishment. They begin to feel freed up and more alive. The journey of change actually becomes something to enjoy. The road is challenging, but nothing as dark as we had feared.

Creativity is empowered when we imagine a new situation before finding it.

We must bring the mind's attention away from what we are losing and shift it to what we are gaining. Change does not have to lead to something worse. If fact, much more often, it leads to something better. With a positive attitude about what is possible, we feel more energized. We will notice missed opportunities along the way, things we might have pursued and won if we hadn't waited so long to act. When this happens, it's time to digest the lesson and behold it as a signal that another opportunity is around a corner, if we keep going. Creative doors shut, yes, but others open.

Old beliefs will not lead to new desired outcomes.

New beliefs about our creativity encourage new behaviors. When we quit returning to worn out beliefs, our behavior begins to shift. Gradually, we will notice that we are behaving differently, because changed beliefs lead to changed behaviors. We can choose to resist change, believing it will harm us. Or we can choose to embrace change, believing that a new situation will improve our creative lives.

Losses experienced can teach us to change course sooner.

Once in the swing of creative transition, we may notice that if we'd changed course sooner, we'd have moved forward sooner. We wouldn't have wasted time in denial, or worn ourselves out with hesitation and fear for so long. By learning the lessons of change, we are empowered to move out of denial sooner the next time we face a changing situation. We take new steps with less fear and create new positive outcomes. An added benefit is we are empowered to share this learning with friends and other loved ones. •

© 2008 Barbara Bowen. All rights reserved.

Barbara BowenBarbara Bowen owns Gateways Coaching and helps artists and other professionals to master the creative process, build momentum, and take sensible risks to move careers to the next level. More »

12/13/08