Good and Bad News: Your Work Is Never Done

Newsflash! You’re just getting started.

Whether you think this is good news or bad news depends on your disposition.

Some people feel fulfilled and complete every day. I envy them.

Your Work is Never Done

I want more. Not more “stuff,” but more out of life. More experiences, more love, more friends, more cats. (Only kidding about that last one!)

I know it’s not fashionable these days to want more. They say I should be content where I am and live in the moment.

Can’t I want more and appreciate the present?

I have come to realize and accept that I will never be complete. I am just getting started.

My work is never done.

I will never feel like I’ve arrived. There will always be something more to look forward to, and new goals and dreams to pursue that are optimistic about the future.

This is different than being unsatisfied. People who are unsatisfied are negative and unhappy.

I’m satisfied because for me, satisfaction comes from a job well done: getting some exercise, cleaning out the garden, or ironing napkins for my dinner guests (I know, weird, but true).

There is great satisfaction in taking the steps toward your vision and seeing each project to completion.

This is how I’m wired. I’ve been this way … um … forever.

I’ve learned to embrace this part of my nature, and I’m happy and positive because I’m enjoying the journey. I can’t imagine a different perspective than the one ingrained in me.

You Will Never Arrive

I doubt that you will ever feel as if you’ve arrived, which I consider good news.

My thinking is that if you ever feel like you’ve arrived, you’ve done something wrong because every creative person and entrepreneur I know is on a lifetime search for new ideas.

  • There will always be another book to read.
  • There will always be another class to take.
  • There will always be another show to see or to install.
  • There will always be another museum collection to see your work in.
  • There will always be another email or postcard to send.
  • There will always be another sculpture to sculpt, photo to snap, painting to paint, pot to throw, bowl to carve, or necklace to fashion.

These are all things to look forward to on your artist’s journey.

Your work is never done.

It’s time to worry if you feel like you’ve arrived because that means you’re out of ideas.

While the rest of the population is waiting in line at the Apple store for the latest electronic gadget, we artists and entrepreneurs are nursing a buzz from new ideas, new materials, and new inspiration. It would be foreign to live any other way.

There’s Bad News, Too

Now for the bad news: If you can relate to what I wrote above, you will never have enough time to do everything you want to do.

You’ll never have enough time to make all the art that is incubating in your head. Nor will you have enough time to implement all of the marketing ideas you find here and elsewhere.

However, your creative journey will allow you to explore new challenges that will lead you, at times, to unexpected and rewarding results.

Your work is never done.

This is why it’s so important to understand your values and set your life and business priorities around those.

Embrace the part of your artist soul that is always seeking. It’s one of the things that differentiates you from others.

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28 comments to Good and Bad News: Your Work Is Never Done

  • I’m amongst the truly blessed…time…money…space…one to love and to be loved by.

    Did I mention I make Art?

    Did I mention Brian The Baby Dragon is Published & that I illustrated it’?

    And I’m about to start on its follow-up?

  • I agree with you wholeheartedly Alyson. I should hate to get to the end. Meanwhile there’s loads more paintings to paint, ideas to follow up, more conversations on line and off, lots and lots of instagram posts. Those around me are retiring and they feel their work is done. I hope I never get to that point. Anyway when I get to 90 you’ll still encouraging us to get out there. Thank you

  • I love how you give permission for various things – not excuses because the work isn’t done, but permission to simply not be perfect!
    This post truly made me go “ahhhhh”, now I understand why my to-do list is never actually finished. I am constantly adding one more thing even as a finish the one before. And that brings up another thing that I learned in Bootcamp – focus on what makes you work better, not what everyone else thinks is a great shiny new thing.

  • You hit the nail on the head!!! I am blessed to always feel like there are always ways to enrich my life while still loving the life I lead. I do never have enough time-but it’s a small price to pay for being so full!!! Thanks for putting words to my thoughts.

  • Wonderful post Alyson. I’ve come to the realization that it’s necessary to be selfish with my time and to do the things that make me happiest. Time can never be replaced and there is always much on my list.

    If I don’t decide what is important to me and block out those hours,the hours will be filled with “shoulds” – should serve on that committee, should clean out the basement or the garage before I get to the studio. Anyone can run a dishwasher but no one will ever paint like I do.

    Let the tombstone read “Adequate housekeeper. One HELL of a painter!”

  • I completely resonate with your “never finished” sentiment.
    I would like to figure out a way to communicate these ideas when people say “I don’t have any room for any more art!” If you never move art around your house, it makes your house feel stale. It is great to shake things up with a different arrangement! (Maybe a side-consulting business idea:)

    • Elizabeth: I’ve written about this before. I think when people say that they don’t have room for more art they are actually saying “no, thank you.” They are not true collectors, who would find room for the art they love.

  • Love too, that you give permission, that we will never be finished wanting! I want to get it all in and savor it. Thank you Alyson and I so enjoy and look forward to your posts. How may years now? 🙂
    Laura.

    • Aw, thanks, Laura. We’ve been together awhile! The blog is 10.5 years old and my newsletter is 13!

      • ‘Strewth a virtual friend for nine plus years…this blog is always my daily start…no matter where I am at the time…or in the world…a wifi address & my iPad. Originally it was not this simple!

        I guess I too have been busy travelling and trying to make art. Art is a skill I hope to master one day

        Love from the Greek island of love…Lesbos…back to the UK next week….

  • I love this, Alyson. Always seeking and never out of ideas. Always “something more to look forward to, and new goals and dreams to pursue.” Thank you.

  • Theresa Fisher

    I recently was talking to a friend about this very thing. I wanted to try a new extention to a medium and she said but are you chasing to many things in your work. I can’t wait for her to read this article. I told her if you are not stretching and reaching you are not growing just like the 100 year old in your back yard. Thank you so much I was think maybe she is right, now I see I am going in the right directions keep reaching for my DREAM. Thank you Alyson

  • Well stated as always Alyson!! This is exactly how I feel. When my to do list gets low I start looking to add to it. It is not the destination but the journey.

  • I loved this. As I took a walk on the beach earlier this week I felt so much gratitude for life and all the experiences. Some people say to me they are amazed I get so much done, have time for so much and I just say I wouldn’t have it any other way! I don’t have children and I am so curious about life. This endless curiosity always leads me to new, exciting things. I’m totally in love with life and want to taste every sip and bite!

  • Thanks for this Alyson, it was just what I needed to hear this week as my partner and I move into a phase of shaking up our lives once again in pursuit of more – not more things, less if any – but more experiences, more creative people to meet, more opportunities to see great art and amazing landscapes…As you say, not because we’re unhappy but because we have such a zest to grow and expand 🙂 That we will continue to create is a given!

  • I used to make to-do lists and get so frustrated when I couldn’t finish! I guess that’s the Perfectionist in me…I still make to-do lists so I can have a map of what needs doing, but a few months ago I caught myself writing down what I did that day, so at the end of the day I’d see what needed to get started, what needed follow-up, etc. Yes, there’s always something to be done and getting all caught up doesn’t really make sense; if everything’s settled, what else is there to strive for? Some of my dad’s friends at the automobile assembly plant couldn’t wait to retire and be done with work. I often heard later that those same people died within weeks of retirement.

  • Pat

    My business allows me to have projects where the work is never done but also have projects that have a beginning and an end. Always nice to pack away files and folders when a project is completed but the ongoing relationships, projects, learning and experimenting are so rewarding!

  • All I can say on this one is that I’m printing it out and hanging it in my office (and maybe my studio too). Excellent post Alyson….working on earning that tombstone of Paula’s 🙂