Making decisions is often like a sweaty wrestling match with no clear winner. We grapple with what we want alongside our insecurities. We question our capacity and our abilities. We poll everyone we know to get a quick answer.
I’m in this position as I look forward to my art-making. I feel ready to go to the next level, even if I don’t know what it looks like. A colleague of mine has a group that seems to be a good fit to further me and my art. But I wonder…is this right for me now?
I know I need structure, insight from others, and support to move forward with my art. But am I ready? Do I have enough to go on? And am I willing to plunk down hard-earned cash for a passion project? I have no idea what results I could expect from my art, and I hesitate to commit to something that may go nowhere.
And if I am honest, underneath these practical considerations lurk my insecurities. Is my art any good anyway? What’s the point of it?
With these questions swirling in my head, I knew what was needed—a session with my trusty notebook and my decision-making process. While camping last weekend, I settled under the shade with my pens, notebooks, and a cold iced tea.
I use a series of questions, or inquiries, and free-write my answers. Seeing it all in ink on the page helps me to sort through the confusion. It’s easier to see clearly and access my intuition when I get it out of my mind.
First, I establish the issue at hand: Should I sign up for this program this year?
Seductive as it is to get absorbed in the details of the possible program, I start with my current commitment. Getting rooted in what I am hoping to achieve helps me start from inside first. I ask:
What do I want for my art this year? What is my focus?
The next step is one that many people struggle with. Somehow, it’s hard to know what we need. But this step alone can make all the difference in making a good choice for support. Knowing what I want for my art, now it’s time to assess what I need. I ask:
What do I need to achieve my goal? What skills do I need to learn?
Then, I look to see if the program’s offer meets my needs. I ask:
How, specifically, will this program help me meet those needs?
Then, it’s time to assess my current obligations and my real ability to have space for this. Taking on too much is a common tendency. It’s partly because we are typically not great at estimating how long things take. I also believe that piling a lot on our plate gives us an easy out for actually doing the work. I want to be sure that I can give this my attention. I ask:
What will need to shift to make room for this program?
I looked at my upcoming obligations. I identified when and how I would make space not just for the coaching program but for the art-making itself. I feel confident I can commit the energy to make this a worthwhile pursuit.
Lastly, because this is a significant investment, I ask the all-important:
How will I pay for this?
I am currently focused on savings and on building my retirement funds. I assess every expense and refuse to sacrifice my savings goals for new things. Often, when I take the leap and commit to something, the money appears in the exact amount, which is both eerie and wonderful.
I’m not afraid to invest a significant sum in my development. A quick tally of the major programs I’ve invested in over 20 years shows I’ve spent upwards of $50,000. My personal, professional and creative development has absolutely benefited from these investments. And my clients also benefit from what I learn.
Once I worked through this process, a wave of insight and ideas flowed through. I filled pages and pages of notes about what I want to make, what values I honor when I make art, and how I will make space for my art. I have a sense about what to do going forward. I feel both clarity and a renewed enthusiasm for my art.
Ultimately, our choices have to feel right. If we go through a process like this and it still feels ‘off’, trust that. I hope sharing my process helps you make decisions that honor you and what you want for yourself. .
I believe that the answers to our questions are not out there. The answers are inside, and a short session with our wisdom and our ink can help us write our way forward.
What process do you use to make decisions? Share in a comment below.