I don’t know about you, but for a long time, I struggled with the question of how to make a difference in the world. I felt pressure to conform to societal expectations of success. When I was just starting out, dipping my toes into the art world as a young professional artist, I felt the expectation to follow certain career paths or mimic certain creative styles that seemed to be deemed acceptable, rather than staying true to my own passions and interests. I doubted my own abilities and worth. I struggled with self-doubt and insecurity, and felt like I wasn’t good enough or that my art was not valuable or meaningful. And I didn’t know how to connect my art to a larger purpose or mission. I often felt like my art was disconnected from the world around me, and I struggled to see how it could resonate and make a difference in the lives of others.
Today I work with so many artists who also wrestle with these questions. Maybe you’re one of them. But the reality is, true success as an artist lies in understanding and embracing your individualized purpose, personal vision and focused mission to make a positive impact on the world.
Finding your purpose as a creative leader requires introspection and honesty. It means looking beyond external validation and societal expectations, and instead delving into what truly drives and fulfills you as an artist. This may involve exploring your passions, values and unique perspective, and then finding ways to share these with others through your art.
Developing a personal vision involves taking this sense of purpose and translating it into a specific direction or goal for your art and creative endeavors. It requires you to think deeply about what you want to achieve, and to have the courage to pursue your passions and dreams, even if they differ from what society deems as successful or conventional.
Your focused mission, then, is the practical expression of your purpose and vision through your art. It is the action you take to make a difference in the world and to realize your goals. This may involve creating work that raises awareness about important issues, inspiring others to take action or simply bringing beauty and joy into the world. The possibilities here are endless.
Ultimately, measuring your success as an artist should not be based on external standards or labels, but rather on the quality of your efforts and how they align with your purpose, vision and mission. This may involve taking risks, stepping outside your comfort zone and facing challenges, but it is through these struggles that you will truly grow and make a meaningful impact.
As creative leaders, it is essential that we understand and embrace our purpose, vision and mission. This not only gives us direction and focus in our art, but also allows us to make a difference in the world through our unique talents and perspectives. By staying true to ourselves and our values, we can create work that is authentic, powerful and impactful, and that truly resonates with others.
Here are 10 things you can do to identify your individualized purpose, personal vision and focused mission, so that your art makes a powerful impact on the world.
- Reflect on your passions and interests. What are the things that truly excite and motivate you? These may be clues to your purpose as an artist.
- Consider your values and beliefs. What is important to you, and how do you want to make a difference in the world through your art?
- Explore your unique perspective and voice. What makes you different from other artists, and how can you use this to create work that is meaningful and impactful?
- Reflect on your past experiences and accomplishments. What have you done in the past that has been fulfilling or meaningful to you, and how can you build on these experiences to shape your future as an artist?
- Set specific goals and objectives for your art. What do you want to achieve through your creative endeavors, and how can you turn these goals into a focused mission?
- Seek feedback and guidance from others. Talk to other artists, mentors or advisors about your purpose, vision and mission, and listen to their insights and suggestions.
- Experiment with different mediums and techniques. Try new things, and see what resonates with you and your purpose as an artist.
- Take risks and challenge yourself. Don't be afraid to push your boundaries and try new things, even if they are outside your comfort zone.
- Stay true to yourself and your values. Don't compromise your authenticity or integrity in pursuit of external validation or success.
- Measure your success by your own standards. Don't compare yourself to others or try to fit into societal expectations of success. Instead, focus on the quality of your efforts and how they align with your purpose, vision and mission.
TJ Walsh is an internationally exhibited artist who has nurtured creativity in hearts and minds for decades. He received his BFA in graphic design and an MA in clinical counseling psychology. TJ regularly writes and speaks about art, culture, faith and mental health and is an expert in human relationships, human creativity, the creative process, fear and procrastination.
Over the past 20 years, TJ has worked at the colorful intersection of creativity, art, therapy and education. He’s an innovative, out-of-the-box artist, creative clinician and coach (Clini-Coach®) and Licensed Professional Counselor. His passion is to help you nurture and GROW your creative life so that you can be the powerhouse of an artist AND human you are created to be.
Before becoming a therapist and coach, TJ spent more than a decade working as a designer, art and creative director, art university educator and administrator and fundraising professional. He currently lives in Philadelphia, PA, with his partner and two sons.
This article originally appeared in a print issue of Create! Magazine. Become a subscriber to get access.
By TJ Walsh, MA LPC CCTP Clini-Coach®