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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