This may be the realest thing I've ever said on social media. In a recent panel discussion someone asked me 'What do you do to remain accountable'? I feel like that's a loaded question, accountable to what? To goals? To-do lists? My soul?
People talk about accountability with task completing and with money all the time - but not with VALUE OF TIME. So I'm here today to spread a little light for those who may need to hear this - or are feeling the same way & want to yell it out (!!).
I am only one person. & I only have so many hours in the day to get through my work. That work includes drafting & reviewing contracts, proposing & pitching to potential clients, meeting on & off-site with potential & current clients, meeting with artists with whom I am partnering on upcoming projects, meeting with staff, preparing inventories of artworks for various projects, back-end organization for art exhibitions which includes press releases and condition reports, corresponding via email, setting a calendar, and social media/marketing. When I can, I also have a running rolodex of exhibitions that I really want to get to in order to support artists IRL. I also am responsible for a physical space.
I am used to working at this capacity & have a work flow to navigate the 30-40 projects we simultaneously balance. I have help - amazing help. But still, I feel there is an understanding out there that artist-curator relationships formulate overnight, that artists sell their work daily, that you can quit your job one day to be balling the next, & that an exhibition comes together in a few hours. NO. We plan our exhibitions 6 months to a year in advance. We court artists very carefully. Same with clients. Everything is a careful investment in time. I hope laying this out de-mystifies a bit of the "art world" and the value of our work and TIME....
That said, I get DMs from people who want to "stop by to hang out". Hi, I don't play every day. I appreciate you are interested in what I am manifesting, but this is very much my lifestyle & wellbeing. If we're not on a text-basis, then we're not hang-out relationship. So I'd like to keep our relationship professional & I'd appreciate to be valued/respected for my time & space to create. Meetings for projects & collectors are what I need to prioritize in my few hours at work a day.
I always receive emails from people who are "inspired by what I am doing & want to get coffee to pick my brain". I do not exist for my brain to be picked. It is a value, respected part of my person. Plus, it's accumulated years of working very hard to figure things out. I still am clueless at times. I cannot give that out for the price of coffee. Because not only is my expertise unprotected in those moments, but that is time taken away from the other productive & necessary areas of my day. I have an hourly fee for that...
If you've read to this part, you'll maybe include today was rough but this is rather something I deal with on a daily basis. I am unsure whether being a woman business owner, a creative in the art world, or someone who is tapped into healing/community and therefore "approachable" has anything to do with it. My constant diagnostic is I'm "too nice", but as I told a friend earlier today: I have practiced removing too much #ego from my soul and need to put some back into my own business practices in order to remain accountable to my soul. Please respect people's space, time & expertise is all I'm saying. Creative field is no different from any other profession. As most professions, we do not want to mix professional and personal overnight.
So, what do I do to remain accountable to my soul?
I am forever working on being more firm and keeping my professional relationships in a professional arena. Also, meditation to reset.
Being transparent online about what a real day in my work-field looks like I believe de-mystifies the creative field & demonstrates worth. It shows the amount of expertise, dedication and time that goes into each project.
How do I work to remain accountable to my time?
I only take meetings that very clearly propose what I am working towards + if it is a project or partnership I believe directly fits with my pre-set goals. Rarely, I allow myself to exercise beyond this and take a few out-of-the-box meetings.
How do I work to remain accountable to my worth?
Step 1: Meditate or focus somehow to create clear vision of where I want to be.
Step 2: Create list of action steps to that. May include strategy and budget.
Step 3: Put my head down & work.
Step 4: Find time for enjoyment and play. For me that’s daily meditation & yoga nidra, exercise, and spending time with friends and family. Carving out time to sketch, read or watch a movie.
How do I deal with saying ‘no’?
It’s not personal, and could translate to a ‘not now maybe later’ and is accompanied with a kind smile.
The reality is, everything cannot be a yes.
If you too are struggling with the social boundaries of creative professional work, know you are not alone.
I hope this blog post can inspire you to implement some stronger boundaries.
I also hope this blog post will inspire everyone, myself included, to direct mindfulness when approaching people to share some of their time. Do they want to share time in the same way you do and are you prepared to not take it personally if they do not respond or respond with a (hopefully kindly communicated) “no”?