This is what you need on your success journey

How do we create a clear path to success? How do we realize the ideal we’re dreaming of? How do we reach new creative or professional heights?

Artwork by John P. Weiss

Slovakian painter Tibor Nagy, in an interview with writer Jeff Sparks, made this interesting comment:

“Over the years I have come to realize a couple of things. I think that the most important aspect is eliminating any obstacles that obstruct my path to seamless realization of a painting. The goal is to have a ‘clear path’ so that the original vision or intention would not get lost in the process.”

Tibor Nagy is a phenomenal painter that blends abstraction and realism in a mix of undertones, brushwork, palette knife layers and scratches.

He is a painter who clearly found his artistic voice and the attention of fellow artists and collectors. His comment above about eliminating obstacles got me thinking.

How seriously do we work on eliminating obstacles in our lives? Do we even know what the obstacles are? I know I haven’t always identified the obstacles standing in my way.

I’ve written articles about time management and the perils of procrastination, but Tibor Nagy’s comment about eliminating obstacles resonated with me.

We use maps to successfully find our destination, so it makes sense to have a clear path in support of our creative or professional vision.

How do we create a clear path to success? How do we realize the ideal we’re dreaming of? How do we reach new creative or professional heights?

What does success mean to you?

The late Stephen Covey, in his best selling book Seven Habits For Highly Successful People, urged us to “Begin with the end in mind.” The reality is, if you don’t know what your goal is, how can you make meaningful progress?

There will be countless obstacles and hardships if you don’t understand and define what success means to you.

Are you distracted from the obstacles in your life?

Maybe you want to see your artwork in a reputable gallery. Become a New York Times best-selling author. Start your own high tech company.

Whatever it is, take time to define what success means to you. Sculptor and writer Mark Edward Adams wrote about this in his thoughtful essay Define Your Success As An Artist.

Here’s an excerpt:

“If you can clearly state why you started making art and what you hope to accomplish, then you can develop a method to judge your progress. This progress may take the form of the personal satisfaction you take from new work or perhaps how it makes a greater emotional impact on your audience. It is directly related to your personal vision.”

Even if you’re not an artist, you can apply this approach to your work. Ask yourself why you started your profession. What did you hope to accomplish? Are you on course or have you drifted? Do you still have a clear path?

Redesign your studio, redesign your life

Once you have identified your goal, it’s time to vanquish obstacles. Sit down and list all the things that get in your way. For example, is your studio or office designed in a way that’s conducive to working?

You don’t need a dream studio or corner office. Some people use small rooms, closets, or their garage. Others create stellar work from small cubicles.The key is to reduce clutter, have materials laid out, and distractions reduced.

Figure out what the obstacles are in your schedule and where you can carve out more time. The more obstacles you can identify and eliminate, the easier it will be to focus on your goal.

For example, I resigned from a service club I had been in for many years. I hated feeling like I disappointed people in the club, but I knew that I needed to create more time for my artistic goals.

Saying yes to your creative work often means saying no to other commitments. It’s all about priorities.

Commit to a process, not a goal

It’s important to have a goal, but by itself that won’t lead to much. For example, lots of people have a goal to lose weight. Unfortunately, without a process, they’re unlikely to succeed.

Blogger James Clear is one of the best at explaining the importance of committing to a process, not a goal.

For example, ever notice all those early morning joggers? I’m sure they’d rather be in bed, but they’ve adopted a process. A routine. Your process might include rising early and spending an hour in the studio, before all the interruptions of the day.

Consider using cues, too. Leave an old paint brush in the medicine cabinet to “cue” you each morning to hit the studio. Adopting a process that you do over and over, until it’s a well oiled routine, will move you closer to your goal.

Enlist support to succeed

Talk to your family members about your goal(s) and enlist their support. As an artist, I prioritize family time and studio time. Fellow artists, online compatriots and professional colleagues can be helpful supporters, too.

Some artists join painting groups and workshops, and become energized by the shared creativity and passion. Others work better in solitude. The key is to know yourself and figure out what’s the most effective approach for you.

Forgive yourself

I had a martial arts teacher who used to say:

“The biggest battles you’ll ever face are between your own two ears.”

It’s easy to allow negative or self defeating thoughts to percolate. Excuses are never hard to find. Focus can easily be lost.

Negativity, frustration and self doubt are no strangers to the artistic and entreprenuerial journey. When they come along and you stumble, learn to forgive yourself. Take a break, regroup and then dive back in.

I know a lot more can be added to the list, but you get the point. Tibor Nagy is at the top of his game because he’s found a way to defeat obstacles and clear a path for his artistic vision to flourish.

The good news is, so can you. Start by redesigning your life, having a clear path, committing to a process, enlisting support and forgiving yourself.

These are the strategies you need on your success journey. Use them, and I’ll bet you’ll move faster toward the success you desire!

Before you go

I’m John P. Weiss. I draw cartoons, paint, and write about life. Get on my free email list here for the latest artwork and writing. No spam, privacy respected.

This article first appeared on Medium.