7 things that really stand out about 2018

I don’t know about you, but 2018 was quite a year for our family! I think we experienced some important changes that will affect us for years to come. Here are 7 things that really stood out for me this past year.

The highlights

My wife Hope changed careers. With all three kids in school, she decided it was time pursue a new full-time career. She’s had an interest in the legal field since working at a law firm before our daughter was born, so she started classes to become a paralegal, and changed jobs twice. This change in routine was a challenge for the kids but they adapted so well.

All three kids became active in Scouting BSA. It’s been somewhat controversial in some circles that the Boy Scouts opened their ranks to girls, but my daughter has loved every minute of it. She’s still active in Girl Scouts, too, and honestly wants to do everything. (We had to put a limit on the number after-school activities she was doing! She’s like the kid who wants to do all the things in this cartoon.) Since all three kids were active in Scouts and we went on several family camping trips, we bought a bunch of camping gear. Camping has kind of become our new family hobby.

I had an immensely successful Art Every Day Month. You know I’m a fan of this annual event, and this was my most successful one yet, with the most days worked as well as best sales. I’ll share more about that below and in a future post, so stay tuned.

The negatives

We lost my only surviving grandmother on Mother’s Day. My daughter is named after her, so she had a difficult time dealing with it, especially when it came close to when we usually celebrate my grandmother’s birthday.

Takeaways

Art Every Day Month was successful because I learned how to build better habits. I actually rolled AEDM into a larger project that I called 40 Days of Abstracts. I now have a better understanding of how to make a habit successful. As Jeff Goins says on his podcast, the trick is to make a habit easier to do than to avoid. He says this about writing, but it applies to any endeavor, creative or not. Soon, I will publish a post where I expand on the habits that got me through the 40 days of abstracts project. In a nutshell, you have to make your habit stick by creating a situation where it’s easier to do it than to not do it and by shrinking it down to as small a level as you can while still making it fun and challenging enough to stay engaged.

I received some good advice regarding pricing. One week in July, I ran a promo that I called Christmas in July. I knocked 30% off my prices.

Looking back, that was a bad idea. Art by definition is a luxury product. It’s not necessary for survival. It’s good for your soul and your mind but it’s not something that most people put in their monthly budget for survival. Since art is a luxury product, it needs to be priced as such.

My friend Pamela emailed me while the Christmas in July sale was going and said, “Brad, your prices are too low.” I appreciate when somebody cares enough to gently tell me what I’m doing wrong and how to correct it. “Brad I love your paintings, and I want you to succeed, so price them higher. Also, I know where you can get better canvases.” So, when I did the 40 Days of Abstracts Project toward the end of the year, I raised my rates to $5/linear inch.

That’s double what I was charging a year prior. And get this — I sold more paintings.

I have a plan to reach certain benchmarks in order to raise my rates over the next few years. Once my sales reach a certain level, the prices will increase. This is the kind of goal that will help my business succeed in the long run.

My friend also made a suggestion about where to get better canvas for a better price. It’s like what Picasso said:

“When art critics get together they talk about Form and Structure and Meaning. When artists get together they talk about where you can buy cheap turpentine.”

Pablo Picasso

I could spend a small fortune upgrading all my paints at once, but as I run out of colors, I’m replacing them with Golden acrylics.

We incorporated essential oils into our lives and that has made a huge difference in our health. When my wife first brought home essential oils I was pretty skeptical. It seemed “woo woo” and weird. But when I realized I didn’t get sick in November like I normally do, I was sold. We eat clean(er) now, cutting way back on meat and dairy. Stuff like the NingXia gets expensive (we call it “Ninja Juice”), but it’s so worth it in the long run. (If you want to learn about essential oils, you can use my wife’s Young Living affiliate link.)

Well there you have it.

That about sums up 2018. What did your 2018 look like? I’d love to know! Sound off in the comments.

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