If you have a positive attitude and constantly strive to give your best effort, eventually you will overcome your immediate problems and find you are ready for greater challenges.

– Pat Riley

There is so much written about positive thinking. There must be something to it. I can contribute much of my success to positive thinking and taking action.

Positive thinking does no good if you do not take action. And if you act on the wrong things, even with positive thinking, you’re sunk.

How to Make a Positive Attitude Possible.

A positive attitude comes from self-belief and the desire to succeed; it’s about mindfulness. Working on plans with realistic outcomes boosts enthusiasm and self-confidence. Success at your job will help improve your outlook, but you can’t count on attitude alone to be the driving factor.

You can support your positive attitude and self-belief by making achievable plans and acting on them with conviction. Following this advice will make you successful.

So, how do you get there? Where is the instruction manual?

For many, the first step is learning to identify any actions or thoughts that are holding you back from moving toward success. It’s not enough to know where you want to go if head trash is holding you back. I’ll come back to that thought.

How to Find Art Collectors: A Trout Fishing Analogy
How to Find Art Collectors: A Trout Fishing Analogy



If you want to be successful and have the career you dream about, you must learn to make time to do the right things at the right time. I think the best you can do is focus on one thing at a time, isolating yourself from distractions that distract you from doing what is essential and urgent right now.

Are you sabotaging your career, or are you on the wrong career path?

If things are not working as planned, it could be that you are sabotaging your career because you are afraid of failure. Or maybe you are fearful of success. You may suffer from impostor syndrome. If you do, you are not alone. It’s a common problem. Or, maybe you have entirely different underlying reasons for not working on what is essential.

If something is holding you back, it is time to connect with your higher self and learn why. Or maybe you need to readjust your true vision of success. You may be aspiring to something that is not your goal, path, or life.

The most critical four inches to your success are between your ears.

I’m not here to armchair psychoanalyze your motivations or career. I can only say this when I encounter an artist not meeting their potential. I can usually see a pattern of thinking that is causing their problems. In many cases, they are their own worst enemy when it comes to avoiding doing the things necessary to gain the success they want.

You already know that no one will come and anoint you as the next “It” artist. That’s the getting-found myth. It is just as damaging as the starving artist myth. Both operate on the flawed notion that artists should suffer to make art for art’s sake. While that sounds good on paper to some, you can’t eat it. And it won’t help you get recognition now or when you’re gone.

How to Find Art Collectors: A Trout Fishing Analogy
How to Find Art Collectors: A Trout Fishing Analogy



Taking the proper steps is the crucial evolution of your success.

If your art is salable, the next step is to get it seen by the right people. And the additional step is to ensure enough of the right people get exposed to your art regularly. It’s like building two pipelines at the same time. The first carries your compelling art output, and the second brings your properly selected prospective buyers. If you fill both on an ongoing and improving basis, you cannot fail.

Is this easy to do? No, that is why there are so many artists who are struggling. Not only is it not easy to do, but most also have no idea what to do or when. Moreover, many others know what to do. They don’t want to do it. Maybe that’s you. If so, the best thing you can do is to have self-realization that you are the problem.

Perhaps you can get help to fix why you are the problem. Or, you might accept that you are more comfortable with the status quo, such as it is, rather than making yourself uncomfortable in a push for bigger, better things.

No one is throwing stones around here. Life’s too short, and most do enough self-damage on their own

There is no shame in accepting the status quo. We aren’t all set to drive ourselves to the highest peak. It might be the very best thing you can do is to accept who you are and to be comfortable in your skin. There is a lot of value, and I think good mental health in realizing it and being okay with it.

People innately know when their drive is beyond what is typical for most. Likewise, I also believe that we are aware that when we are okay, we are just being okay, and that we don’t have to be the be-all to end all. High success has its perks. It also has its drawbacks. There are many sacrifices that those at the top make that those at the bottom don’t want to make. Family time and personal time are among the things that often go first when someone drives success at the highest level. And those are just the start of what goes into high-level achievement.

There are always exceptions, but they are rare, and I think it is nearly impossible to predict that anyone can achieve balance in their lives when they commit to creating success against all odds.

I admit to setting aside and enjoying my couch potato time. Life’s too short not to IMHO!

I’m right in there myself. I could do so much more, but I don’t want to do the work. I want to spend time reading a book, taking a walk, or watching HBO or football. That means I’m not going to work 24/7 to write another book, create another online training program, or produce a series of webinars.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m no slouch. I know myself and am at peace with the goals I have set and the pace at which I am pursuing them. I have some ambitious plans I may never achieve, but I know there will be many satisfying results even if I don’t reach them all.

What makes you happy?

Here’s what works for me when it comes to a career: Working makes me happy. Helping artists succeed also makes me happy. Learning about everything I need to know and creating an online learning experience for artists to propel their careers to new heights makes me happy.

Seeing artists respond to what I’m doing to help them and getting their unsolicited testimonials about how something I taught them changed their careers… well, that goes beyond making me happy. It is what powers everything else.

Get inside your head. Exciting things are happening in there.

I encourage you to think about what you are doing and why you are doing it and to honestly ask and answer if you are on the path where you want to go. If you’re not, then take the time to retool. If you are, then think about single-tasking on your most important goals and finding ways to get positive reinforcement. Use those things to make plans to take massive action on your goals.

Do those things for yourself and your career. Your results will be nothing short of fantastic.

Carpe Diem!

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  • Great post, Barney! Even Van Gogh wasn’t Van Gogh during his lifetime. He wasn’t the infamous Van Gogh that we know now until much later.

    • So true. I wouldn’t trade his miserable life for mine even if I was guaranteed I would become Van Gogh long after I was gone.

  • I would agree about devoting attention to one task at a time when it’s a matter of making an art piece vs completing a marketing piece. Also about finishing one art project at a time, even if you have more than one sitting undone. Just now I am facing an agreement to move in six months; it means I think finding a small place I can buy rather than rent. My rent has been comfortably low. I cannot afford to stop making art and cards or marketing them while still researching and finding the most suitable property I can buy and maintain.

    • Thanks for your insights and comments. Best wishes on the decision and purchase should you go that way. Home ownership is great in many ways. In some ways, it’s a drag on your time and expenses that you don’t realize until you are in the situation. Not to discourage you, but just keeping it real.

  • Wonderful article, Barney. Lots to think about, since I’ve been struggling with how to work my art business and another one. Fortunately, I now see a way to combine them and am in the process of “retooling”. And thank you for pointing out that “we aren’t all set to drive ourselves to the highest peak”, and that it’s okay to think that ” … there’s so much more I could do, but I don’t want to do the work”. I think it’s important to maintain a balanced life. Thank you for your insights!

    • You’re welcome and thank you for your comments. We don’t have to live up to anyone’s expectations but our own. When we align ourselves with something that is what we want, it is a freeing thing. If anyone is disappointed in what you or I do, especially if we are being true to enlightened ourselves working on realistic plans, then that is their opinion and their problem to sort out why they feel that way or want to project on you.

  • Debbie Viola says:

    What a GREAT post, and a reminder that multi-tasking isn’t always better. As a woman, I take pride that I can generally get ten things done at once, while men in my life have a hard enough time on more than one. But with art marketing, I am finding that it is just not cutting it. I have taken your wonderful course, and bought a few of your great books. Instead of taking one chapter or video at a time and running with it until I have that up and running, I jump around all over the place and don’t get much done Now, I do have a full-time decorative arts business I am running, while babysitting two days a week for my grandchildren, so I don’t have the luxury of sitting in my home studio for any length of time where I can focus and concentrate on moving forward. Everything is done in bits and pieces as life allows. And because everything is so fragmented, it’s hard to even remember where I left off. This makes me realize I need to put some systems in place and stick with it. Maybe Monday evenings do X, Tuesday evenings do Y, etc., etc. At least it will be a system. And I can’t figure out if I should market locally or online first, so i try to do both, and wind up getting nothing accomplished. I have such big aspirations and do believe it’s possible, but it is certainly happening at a snail’s pace. I try to psychoanalyze myself and wonder if I am somehow sabotaging myself, but then I give myself a break and realize that there are only so many hours in a day to try to do/have it all. Thank you for being SUCH an advocate for us artists. You always continue to inspire me and make me push myself forward. I can’t wait to report back when I achieve some of my goals.

    Debbie Viola

    • Debbie, you accomplish more in the time you have than most, so don’t be too hard on yourself. Do remember you are not in a race. It’s okay not get everything done at once, or even soon. Some stuff can wait. You have the basis of a plan outlined here. Try following it for a few weeks. I bet you will amaze yourself. First, that a lot of things you thought mattered really don’t, and second, you are happily surprised to see so much getting done on what’s important. I started using unroll.me a few weeks ago. It allows you to unsubscribe or roll up your unimportant emails into one daily delivery. My Inbox felt lonely at first because I either unsubscribed or rolled up nearly 300 emails. I don’t miss them and don’t even look at the roll up digest every day. What I do have is more time with fewer distractions. Thanks for your kind words.

  • Kath Sapeha says:

    Dear Barney,
    I love your posts very much and I bought the subscription to your marketing training program. However, I am not sure how to access the material. Is it only accessible via Facebook? I have to confess I am not the biggest Facebook fun… I have opened an account but for various reasons I am dreading using it. Is there a website or any other way to access the material you offer?
    Kath Speha

    • Dear Kath,
      Thanks for joining the Art Marketing Toolkit Project, and for your kind words. The archives of videos and workbooks are all contained in the Guides section of the private Facebook group. Because they don’t charge to manage the group or maintain the files, I’m able to keep the cost low. You can join the group and ignore everything else about Facebook. Go here to join https://www.facebook.com/groups/artmarketingmasters and make sure to answer the question asking for the email address you used when you joined. Let me know if you have other questions or if I can help you.

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