Celebrate Your Accomplishments

You’ve been going at it all year! “Do this, try that,” I advise. You do. You try. But then you look back at that task list and become discouraged. The tasks keep multiplying.

Hold it! There will always be more to do–more than you have time for. Instead of thinking about what you still want to achieve, focus on acknowledging all you have done.

Take time to write down your accomplishments for the past year. Don’t try to do it all at once. Dedicate a page in your journal or create a document on your computer to which you can add over the course of the next few weeks. (I recommend writing it all out by hand. It seems more satisfying.)

Here is an inventory of questions to get you started. In 2009 . . .

Susan Robertson, Tridor. Ceramic sculpture. ©The Artist

Susan Robertson, Tridor. Ceramic sculpture. ©The Artist

How did you promote your art?
What did you do to enhance your online presence?
What technological skills did you learn or improve?
How many people did you add to your mailing list?
Who were the top ten cool or influential people you met?
Whom did you mentor or help out?
Did you create a new business card, portfolio, or other marketing piece?
What medium or skill did you attempt or master?
What did you try that was completely new?
What did you try that was uncomfortable, but helped you grow?
What worthy cause did you support in some way?
What new art events, galleries, and museums did you visit?
What resources did you discover?
How did you improve your studio habits?
What books did you read to help your career? What videos or films were useful?
What seminars/workshops/lectures did you attend or teach?
How did you enhance your office or studio environment?
What organizations were you involved with?
What grants/honors/awards did you receive?
What articles were written about your work?
What exhibits, grants, contest, etc. did you submit your art to?
Where did you save a wad of money?
What was the single best thing that happened to your art career in 2009?

After you’ve written everything down, give thanks. Be grateful for the energy you found, the people you came across, and the experiences you learned from. If you feel like sharing, post your accomplishments on your blog. Then . . .


FINAL WORD:  There will always be more to do, but you’ll be amazed at all you have accomplished.


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18 comments to Celebrate Your Accomplishments

  • Alyson, you are always full of good ideas to make the never-ending process of “art-ing” and marketing our art, more effectual and fulfilling! Thanks for your many suggestions and happy holidays!

  • Hi Alyson – great list for prompts as to how much we might have achieved this year, but can’t help feeling you’ve missed out the essential:
    How much new art did I create this year?

    This can be expanded to: How did I grow as an artist this year? Where did I go out of my comfort zone? What artistic risks did I take and what did I learn from them?

    Marketing is important and thank you Alyson for constantly and creatively putting those processes before us, but as an artist it is in creating the art that I feel happy and fully alive and where my greatest efforts must go – and I need to be satisfied and proud of my work in order to market it wholeheartedly.

  • Dave Doolin

    This is a great list, and applies to just about anything I can think of, not just art.

    I can see a few holes in my last year… I need to get out a bit more. Web is cool, face to face is even cooler when possible!

  • Lynda: Glad you like the like the idea.

    Jay: I kind of thought I covered that (except for the “how much” thing) in these three:
    What medium or skill did you attempt or master?
    What did you try that was completely new?
    What did you try that was uncomfortable, but helped you grow?

    Dave: Yes, face-to-face stuff is critical. Add it to your list for 2010!

  • Apologies Alyson

    I misunderstood your meaning and thought that ‘What did you try that was completely new’ and ‘What did you try that was uncomfortable, but helped you grow?’ were referring to the marketing side of things.

    With that in mind I think I will categorize my list of accomplishments into:
    Creating new artwork
    Learning new skills

  • Jay: Absolutely no apologies necessary! Actually, you can read it any way you like and were probably right on track. Because I write for the business side of things, I try to stick to my area of expertise and not get into the art-making, but sometimes business is broader than marketing and relates directly to making. I think you’re right to break it down in a manner that works for you. Let us know if you post your list anywhere.

  • This is a fabulous idea and gives one something positive to look at when feeling overwhelmed (or just “down”). Moreover, it also clearly has started some of thinking. Something I have learned is that the marketing side of art is also creative.

    Thank you! I’m going to start my list(s) today.

  • Alyson,

    I took this action tip to heart and started blogging right away. If I waited until I had time to write in my journal, it would have never happened. I cannot believe how much I accomplished this year. I would have never even taken the time to think about it without this prompt. I am just so happy to be almost done with my college classes that I just want to do nothing but sit down and make some art. Reflecting helps me to see why I was so busy this year!

    Here is a link to the blog post I wrote. – Celebrate your Accomplishments for 2009 http://sn.im/celebrate2009 [jaimelyerly_blogspot_com]

    Thanks so much!

    Jaime Lyerly

  • Hi Alyson,

    I believe it was in a Blast-Off Class that you mentioned creating a list of your accomplishments for the year. I did just that this year, creating a bullet list of accomplishments for each month in Word. I love this idea because, inevitably, I would look back on the year and say “What did I do?” and then have trouble recalling anything…even though I knew I did many things.

    I’m going to take your questions and apply them to my monthly accomplishment list to give me an even better review of the year. Thanks for providing such great guidance.


  • […] Alyson Stanfield, author of I’d Rather Be in the Studio, offers some wonderful prompts to get you thinking and reflecting on this past year. I started this practice after taking Alyson’s Blast Off class online. I created a document in Word and each month I type in everything I did that month, big and small. It is a great way to review the year and say “Wow! I did all that?!” Read Alyson’s post here […]

  • Fabrizio Van Marciano

    Wow very interesting way of looking at this actually, I’m certainly going to give it a try. Just reading some of the questions you’ve outlined I could see the answers right away and realise how much I’d done rather than what I hadn’t. I’m currently doing my six month business review so this will certainly help. Many thanks for sharing.

  • Today, I blogged a list of my accomplishments for the last year (giving thanks to Alyson for the idea and inspiration). It left me both inspired and encouraged. Sometimes we get so close to the experiences we fail to sense the inherent accomplishments.

  • […] history. I look back and think of all the things I thought I would accomplish. But after reading Alyson Stanfield’s blog, I realize how much I actually […]

  • Thanks Alyson for coming and commenting on my blog.

    Thanks for your support and for posting such an inspirational action for me to grab onto.

  • I have doing this since at least 2005 and have kept my old lists plus goals for that year. At the end of the year, I write on the goals list what I did or didn’t do, then make a new goals list for the coming year. Having gone through the years accomplishments puts into perspective a lot of things which not only encourages me that I actually did accomplish something, but I now know what I want to do for next year.

    I agree with Jay though on needing a question about how much work did you produce. Your 2006 questions had that question in it plus several others that I just added or changed to this years list. (I like the personal growth questions as well.) As an artist, the most satisfying thing of all to me is not the technological or marketing stuff so much as did I really produce art!

    I have been reading through my engagement calendar for the past 3 days and working on my list. I know it is taking a lot of time, but it is so worth it and makes me realize what a good year I really did have!

    Thank you again for inspiring me and not letting me come up with excuses for not being good at what I do. God bless you and have a Merry Christmas!

  • Thanks for inspiring me time and again, Alyson!
    I’m expecting your book any day now; it was on my Christmas wish list…

    Today I followed your suggestion and made a list of my accomplishments of the past year. Amazing if one starts writing it all down and a good feeling, too!
    If you’d like to check it out, it’s on my blog: http://encausticcanada.wordpress.com/

    Thanks again for all your support and have a fantastic 2010!

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