With tax season upon us I’m hearing several of my creative clientele, after seeing their bottom line for 2008, asking “Should I be looking for a job?”

One of my most gifted clients (I’ll refer to her as Sue–not her name) and I had this discussion early in the week. Sue had just met with her accountant*, interestingly a quilting hobbyist, who gave Sue dire warnings about her financial future. I mention the hobby thing because I believe it has an impact here.

People who aren’t pursuing their dreams, who haven’t taken the risk to ‘live’ their art, may not be the most reliable sources for creatives to listen to. I know I may get into trouble here, but I strongly advise my clients to manage their feedback, consider the source and make their own decisions about which bottom line to regard. When you’re happy in your life, with whatever work you choose to be doing, you’re not as likely to step on someone else’s dream.

Sue, by the way, has had her best year ever financially. She  started our conversation by saying that the accountant “doesn’t know my work” which spoke volumes from the get-go.  Sue is doing extraordinary, ground-breaking work in her field. She’s been awarded two grants, has curated shows in her area of expertise and is developing a collection of pieces for a museum exhibition. Sue is not in debt, has a newly renovated studio that has added value to her home and a business that is self-supporting. Her family is supportive, loving and proud. Considering the insanity that is prevalent in today’s financially mixed-up world, this represents immeasurable success in my book. In addition, her business has paid for her to travel to museums and exhibits, for all of her materials, for the expenses of networking and socializing with peers and the many volumes she’s read in her field and for inspiration.

In my book it comes down to values. When you’re happy in your life, passionately pursuing the work you were put on this earth to do, giving off positive energy because you’ve got it to give, then your tax return is not the measurement to hang your hat on. Create your own personal accounting system for April 15 and on it measure your health, your joy in living, your mental attitude, your relationships and your sense of connectedness in the world. Then decide whether you need to go look for a job.

By the way, at the end of our coaching call Sue said, “I can’t not be who I am.” Sometimes these incidents show up in our lives to remind us how much what we do means to us.

*Disclaimer: I love my accountant, Janis Siegel, CPA, who has never even hinted that I should look elsewhere for employment. This entry is not anti-accountants, only anti-dream killers in whatever guise they enter your lives.

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