Priorities Are Robbing Me of My Love to Paint How Are You Setting Priorities?

Good morning Darrell.

“I’m having a difficult time finding the time to paint………………………How do you manage and set your priorities?”

Thanks for sending me your DVD. It is super. I especially enjoyed your letter (Secret #2… getting back to basics). It was an eye opener for me and very timely. I remember a seascape I once painted. The sun was high in the sky on the right side of the canvass; plenty of palm trees, bushes, a ship wreck, etc. It came out real good (so I thought) but something about the painting just did not seem right. It took weeks of pondering before I saw the basic flaw. It was my shadows… they were painted on the wrong side of the trees. Talk about feeling stupid!!!!
I think what you have to share with me and others is great! You are truly a servant. The mark of a great man is not his knowledge but his ability to build other lives through the sharing of his knowledge. It seems that my problem would be taking the time to use the lessons after I purchase them.

A basic flaw came to light as I read your letter. That flaw seems to be in setting priorities for in my life. I feel priorities are the basics of a good life. Painting really draws me but it seems that other things keep pulling me away. Does it happen to you?

I am 63, married to a wonderful lady and retired (they should redefine the word to mean too busy to do anything you like). I love to paint, to fish and really love to play and sing to the elderly in St. Pete, Fl. We performed over 300 free concerts last year for our wonderful seniors. Our church is also important and a BIG part of our life. I am secretary of a fast growing work.

You must have to set priorities in your life to be effective in what you do. There are whole days that I would like to just chuck some things out the window so I could spend more time painting. It is so gratifying and relaxing as I can loose myself my work.

How do you set your priorities as far as your work and other parts of your life is concerned? It must be a struggle maintaining a balance. Painting can take much of your time from you. What would you say is a fair amount of practice a budding artist like myself should take on a weekly basis. How do you pull away from things in your life that seem to hold you back from painting or is painting your only interest in life? Sincerely, Roger A.

Hi Roger……

You certainly hit the nail on the head.

As a professional teaching budding young artists how to paint both in live workshops and on DVD, I find myself constantly battling priorities in marketing, production, order fulfillment, lead fulfillment, promotion, pushing the team to complete edits, transcriptions, translations and website developments. And that’s not to mention my priorities I want for my personal life. I often find myself struggling to carve out even five minutes a day to paint.

At all professional artists conventions I’ve attended, the primary emphasis is that an artist must paint every day, even if its for only five minutes. It is my habit to rise early each day. You must have a place to paint and a time to paint.

I have my personal place to paint and I’ve a time, so to speak. First thing I do every morning is check email and then go paint some on the current personal project. I’m currently working on a side view of a tall ship. At my easel I already have the paints out from the previous day. So I find it quite easy to just sit down and start painting right away. I clean my brushes as I go, so whenever I’m done, I just get up and leave my station. If any paints dry, I just replace them the next day. So if I’m short on time, I still can maximize that time because I don’t have to really set-up. When I first committed myself to this schedule, I kind of thought of all the things I wasn’t doing, but over time, I began to relax because I knew that painting had a priority in my life and I had all the priorities balanced.

I remember a great friend of mine, Ken McCarthy, who wrote the book, System Secrets. He cuts right to the core of issues and wham, knocks you in the head with the fundamentals.

Ken spoke of the need to focus on one thing at a time. He talked about how 80% of our daily activities only producing 20% of our lives’ goals. So the challenge was in focusing our priorities on the 80% of productivity we want to accomplish. Build a plan and then do the plan. This way we could move to having 80% or more of time focused on the 80% of our life’s goals.

It all starts with just sitting down and wrestling with yourself on what you truly want to achieve in your life. Setting dates for achievements and the steps required to achieve the goal. I hate it, but I do it each year, month, week and day.

Each New Year day instead of resolutions, I review my list of top ten accomplishments I would like to achieve in my lifetime. Then I choose which ones for the year I’ll concentrate on. I set up milestones and an overall plan for the year that would help me meet my objectives.

Each month, I outline the steps I need to take to ensure that the goals are met for the year.

Each week I review the plan to gauge my progress and make any daily adjustments necessary.
I don’t necessarily accomplish all of my goals, but I’m certainly doing far, far better than not planning at all. Wasn’t it Ben Franklin that wrote, “Not planning is planning to fail.”

I once wrote an article on how to set Smart Goals. I’ll post it on my blog after I finish this article.

One of my top priorities this year is to complete a series of Basic Technique Videos on Oil Painting Flowers. That required nearly 50-60 hours of scheduled painting. To do that meant even more practice hours to ensure I flawlessly painted while being filmed. Then I had my live painting classes and preparation for those classes, painting samples and models and so forth. So my goals this year became quite simple….

1. Building my faith and knowledge of God and walking the talk.
2. Building stronger relationships with all members of my family.
3. Weekly Summer Fishing outings
4. Paint for myself daily for one hour.
5. Complete the Basic Technique of Floral Painting
6. Complete a second Basic Technique Series with a Guest Artist
7. Increase business by xx%
8. Build stronger student services through website, blog, video, sound, pictures.

When you first read this list, it seems impossible. There’s a lot here. But now I can balance my personal needs with my business needs. So at the beginning of the year I decide when each of the priorities will be accomplished and the necessary steps to achieve success. Before January 1 ends, I’ve got a fair idea of what needs to be done for the year and how I’ll focus. Now, as it always happens, things come up during the year. But now, I have a method of gauging their importance and I can always choose to modify my plan. I’m still in control, and I’m still making progress on what matters to me.

My planning cycle came out of simple desparation. Not as a result of a terrifically wise mind. I felt like I was drowning and couldn’t maneuver or think my way through all the business and personal crisis I was facing. So I just thought who were the top men I knew in my life who i thought were successful, great family life and were happy and seemed in control. I then went and talked to each of them. One conclusion kept shouting at me from all of these discussions. There is no magic formulae that will manage and balance your priorities until you control your time. The person who controls their time, controls their life.

So, even though I no longer work in high tech, I go through my planning, keep a calendar and daily, weekly, monthly and annually focus on what’s the most important thing I should be doing right now. And remember, you are important. So set aside some time for you as well to accomplish what’s really important to you.



Carter1946 said,

I really enjoyed reading your reply because like the writer I too am retired with to much unorganized time on my hands. I copied your list and now I can find my way back to painting canvas. I am a beginner with lots of desire to be like Norman Rockwell, I’d be happy to paint like his worst painting which he might have thrown away. Again thanks for your help.

jjshenkir said,

Thanks for sharing this with all of us Darrell. Personally, I couldn’t of read it at a better time in my life!