We live in a time in which everything in our lives seems to be moving at a constantly accelerating pace. Social media provides instant updates, pop-up stores and restaurants feature the hot item or cuisine du jour for a limited time only, and advice on virtually every topic imaginable often promotes short cuts and quick fixes to get you where you want to be FAST. Unfortunately, this mentality is often also applied to investing and the development of a financial well-being plan, which can raise risk factors to alarming levels and cause more harm than good.
From the moment they begin their creative journey, artists understand that learning and honing their chosen craft will take time, patience and dedication. They also realize that the growth and improvement of their skills will be omnipresent throughout their career. As a dancer, I never had the expectation that I would be performing professionally after only a few classes—working to strengthen and broaden my technique was something that required dedication throughout my dancing years. Of course, there were times when it received more focused attention, just as there were times when it was somewhat neglected, but effort and awareness of improving my skills was always an element of my life.
These same artists, however, often fail to apply this concept of steady and continuous development to their finances. The cause of this may be the thrill caused by exposure to the ‘get rich quick’ stories that are spotlighted in our media. Or perhaps after constantly devoting so much time and energy to perfecting their craft, it’s just the allure of having something simple and immediate positively impacting their lives. This sentiment is not limited to artists either. Many freelancers—and others—would prefer a ‘win the lottery’ attitude when it comes to their finances rather than one that requires dedication for the long haul. However, the odds are much more in your favor if you embrace the slow and steady approach.
A primary benefit to employing a long-term strategy is that it allows your knowledge to grow along with your investments over time. This will provide an ever-increasing level of comfort as you experience greater understanding of the impact that financial wellness has on you. Remind yourself that there is learning in the doing of it. As an artist, you would never only take technique classes—active participation in your creative field provides invaluable insight and growth. It also informs you of the areas you need to strengthen through your education as well as the skills you have already mastered to a degree. This becomes an ever-advancing cycle of improving technique, applying it to the execution of your craft, learning from that application what you need to focus on next, and so on. The same is true for building your financial well-being—discover, educate and apply.
Another positive effect of the steady, long-term approach is that you give yourself a chance to explore and understand your risk tolerance. This will allow you to discover ways to mitigate the risks you take over time. Jumping into a spur-of-the-moment, instant financial adventure can do lasting damage if it works out badly, which may frighten you from working to assemble a financial security blanket that will help you to thrive.
Building a comprehensive financial wellness plan slowly and steadily—and always with an eye to the risks you are taking—reduces the chance that one event will deal a significantly damaging blow. It will also help to prevent you from becoming discouraged and to keep your eye on the long-term goal of financial empowerment.
Once you have incorporated ever-evolving financial progress into your life you will also be better positioned to know how to treat the windfalls that will come throughout your career. Instead of splurging and spending a bonanza—and regretting it later—you will have a network of choices that you’ve grown and nurtured over time in which to direct the extra income.
Remember, however, that patience does not equal procrastination. Committing to incorporating financial growth and well-being as an integral element throughout your life means you need to start and maintain it. There will be times when you don’t have much time or attention for it. That’s okay—just be sure that you put strategies in place that can keep you moving forward until you have time to assess your next steps.
Your artistry is a wonderful element of your life that grows over time. Rarely is the progress you make a steady uphill climb. Rather, it shapes and develops in fits and starts—sometimes you are on the top of the world feeling like all pistons are firing perfectly and other times you wonder why you decided to pursue your craft in the first place. You’ll find that your financial journey will be much the same. Set it up so that you enjoy the highs and are braced for the lows. As I told myself every time I was ready to step out of the wings onto the stage, “Take a deep breath… and go!”