Passionate pursuit of micro ambitions

by Samantha Morris

As this year draws to a close I’ve been taking a little time to plan the year ahead.   Reflecting on 2017 which included exciting achievements like enjoying the full year of being the Cotswold Artist of the Year and being a Fine Art Awards Finalist for best published artist - sounds so fancy!  A special collaborative project came to fruition, contributing to the published book “Brand Heroes” whilst I set about learning new technical painting skills and studio craft at Norfolk Oil Painting School.  Of course, as always there were new adventures such as painting at Odette & Pedro’s wedding and finding the Conil Cows in Spain.

2017 was actually less planned than previous years but shaped itself around the Oil diploma I enrolled on at Norfolk Painting School.  It had taken me 2 years of umming and errring thinking about spending a significant amount of money on training, worried if it was too much money to spend on learning, if I could honour the time commitment and considering everything else I had going on, would I make the most of it?  So you can imagine that once I had made the decision everything else had to fit around that.  

The diploma is delivered by Martin Kinnear over 3 live-days in the studio class in Norfolk for 9 months, with structured homework, forum support and cohort accountability.  It takes me a day to travel to and fro Norfolk and homework itself can take a week (if it goes well!), not to mention the extra curricular activities (reading, writing, visiting exhibitions and museums) that are actively encouraged too, all of this good stuff needs to be factored into the diary.  So, for my business this meant less time for shows, exhibitions, commissions and studio work which of course meant more outgoings and less income for the business.  I was in a situation where my goal was resolute but my resources to achieve it were over-stretched!

I needed a plan!  Knowing I had to forecast my business survival around this made me look for ways in which I could change aspects of my business and with coaching from “The Now Project” it became possible.  We looked at 2 critical elements within the business  (1) Busy Work and (2) Income Generating Work and in short, busy work was delegated and income generating work was prioritised in the order of importance and need.

The two solutions sound very easy but in practice it was a significant change to how I operated in my business day-to-day.  Change always means growth which often hurts as you hit sneaky upper limiting beliefs and you find yourself sabotaging progress to stay in familiar comfort.  Anyway, after trying a few ideas out for size (some worked, some really didn’t!) I settled on a new daily routine.

The diploma is drawing to it’s own conclusion now as we reach the end of our studies and prepare for a group exhibition as part of our graduation.  So I’m asking myself questions like What needs my focus and determination in 2018?  What needs planning?  How do I leave space for unexpected adventures to happen?  

Tim Minchin’s 9 Life Lessons motivational speech has inspired me to consider how I might want to shape the year ahead in a different way again.  He explains that he’s never had a big dream, but that he’s an advocate for the passionate pursuit to the dedication of short-term goals, he tell us to be “micro-ambitious … just be aware that the next worthy pursuit will probably appear in your periphery, which is why you should be careful of long-term dreams.  If you focus too far in front of you, you won’t see the shiny thing out the corner of your eye”

So my 2018 plan will be filled with passionate micro-ambitions - sounds awesome already hey?!  I'll follow this up in a future blog "2018 - The Plan!" over the new year period.  But for now, I'll share links below to the action you might want to take:

LEARN: Inspirational Painting Instruction - Norfolk Painting School

CREATE: Change coaching  - The Now Project

INSPIRE: Personal branding book - Brand Heroes

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