Saturday, February 11, 2012

Follow Your Dreams

This is going off topic for a bit, but bear with me.

I was having a talk with a friend last night during which she admitted that if she could go back in time, she'd redo everything in her life. That seemed a little drastic to me, but she went on to say that one of her biggest regrets was not becoming an actress. She'd gone to college with that goal, but was thrown of course freshman year by a nasty teacher.

"So why don't you do it now?" I asked. "You're still young. Even if you never become Meryl Streep, you could get a job as an extra on a TV show or do community theater."

Oh, I can't," she replied. "I don't have time, I'm not skinny enough to be an actress, I'm shy..." The list went on and on.

People often ask me how I've managed to do so much with my jewelry when I work full time and have a marriage and social life. The answer is simple --I WANT to do it and so I make time. It's something that I'm passionate about so I work it into my day, even if I only get to work on a piece for 10 minutes.

I'm also very methodical about it. When I decided that I wanted to make jewelry, I researched as much as I could: I watched instructional videos online, read books and articles and explored what kind of tools I'd need. Then, when I started to get the hang of it, made goals. One was to create at least 100 pieces so that I'd have a big enough selection to sell at craft fairs. Two was to participate in four fairs. Three was to open a shop on Etsy. I didn't give myself any tight deadlines so there wasn't much pressure, but I did have those goals in mind when I was working.

I'm a big believer in going after things and think that for the most part, you can make a dream come true if you pursue it methodically and realistically. Obviously, some things will be out of reach: I'll never become a championship ballroom dancer or gymnast, but I can always take some dance classes or a gym class where I learn how to tumble. I doubt I'll ever be a Picasso, but I could take out a book on how to paint.

I know I'm not the best writer or musician or jewelry artist for that matter, but one thing I do have going for myself is that I'm very driven. I don't just dream; I come up with a plan.

So for anyone reading this who wants to make jewelry or write a book, or act, or do anything else for that matter, here are some of my tips:

1. Solidify your dream. For example, if you want to be a singer, in what capcacity do you want to perform? Are you looking to be the next Adele or do you simply want to sing in a choir or at nightclubs? What type of music do you intend to sing?

2. Determine how far you actually are from your goal. In my case, I knew nothing about making jewelry, so I had to start from scratch. My first plan -- find out what tools I'd even need. Back to my singing example, do you even know how to sing? Do you know anything about music? If not, you might want to take music or voice lessons, or if you can't afford those, watch a video on the subject or take a book from the library.

3. Set a plan into motion and come up with realistic goals. A would-be singer might come up with a plan to sing at a friend's wedding or perform at a local bar. Making an immediate plan to become Lady Gaga might be stretching it -- for now, anyway.

4. Expect to fail and make mistakes. My drawers are full of failed jewelry projects that didn't work out, for whatever reason. I consider them useful because I've learned from them.

5. Expect criticism, especially when it comes to the arts. Sometimes aa critique just sucks; oftentimes, it can be useful if the person giving it is knowledgable.

6. Never stop learning. I'm still learning new jewelry techniques and probably always will. That's how I'll grow as an artist.

7. Just do it! If you really, really want something, you'll find the time somehow. It's hard, especially if you have a full-time job and kids, but even if you take just five minutes a day, it can be worth it.

To see my work, head to Naomi's Designs on Etsy.

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