Creative LeadershipCreativity

Should You Put a Timeline On Your Creative Career?

A lot of creative professionals these days ask me about a career timeline. Can you measure your progress? Can you set a time for success? When it comes to setting timelines, the very word “timeline” is another word for “control”- and the truth is, not many creative people can control much about their careers. So much in a creative job relies on outside forces like clients, budgets, scheduling, resources – all of which give you very little control.But that doesn’t mean you can’t measure your career. At the very least, you can get a sense of timing about the direction you’re going and if you’re making progress. My suggestion is to control the things you can, and worry less about the things you can’t. For instance, here’s a list of things you can control: Your priorities Your daily routine Your education Your working hours Your commitment Your professional relationships Your skill level Things you can’t always control are: Project budget Project schedule The Boss or the client’s taste, ability, or personality Cultural trends Other people’s performance Far too many creative professionals spend enormous time worrying about things you can’t control – and that’s a huge waste of time and creative energy. Instead, focus on the things you can control and stop worrying so much about the rest. The only timeline you should follow is a checklist made up of things you can actually change. For everything else, it happens when it happens.  So let it go.

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  1. “For everything else, it happens when it happens. So let it go.”
    As preacher friend of mine says, “If you can’t say, “amen”, say, “ouch!”

    Thanks Phil, good words!

  2. As a working creative and mom of creatives, I’ve told my budding creative millenials that your career path will be creative lol. When I started as a reporter for a daily newspaper, I had no idea that I would be a scriptwriter, copywriter, TV show producer, radio show producer and now a marketing consultant. It’s been a fun, winding ride but I’ve tried to learn wherever I’m at. I try to pass this attitude of constant learning and teaching yourself to my kiddos to stay current and relevant. I made timelines early in my career and hit every milestone. But I think I missed out on some opportunities that could have propelled me forward. It’s turned out OK thought because I like where I am at, doing what I love to do with amazing organizations and people.

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