Right Turn Here: Why there’s no map to creative success

We can find help in making choices as creatives, but ultimately reaching our destination is up to us

Does anyone remember using a map?

Not the handy GPS app on your phone that can instantly tell you where the nearest Starbucks is, or the traffic app that guides you with calming tones toward an address.

No, I’m referring to the folded paper maps that, when unfolded entirely, covered a kitchen table and filled many a glove compartment during family road trips. If you were born after 1990, it’s possible you’ve never seen one. Suffice it to say these maps were not the easiest to manage. You had to make sense of a bunch of squiggly lines that were supposed to be roads, and then keep track of those lines as you drove. My job as a pre-teen was to sit in the passenger seat (we called this position ‘the navigator’ and it was a high honor) and read the map to my dad – as if he didn’t already know where to go.

Plenty of times during our family vacations, we looked down at the map only to realize that we were in the wrong place. It wasn’t the map’s fault, of course. It was due to our inability to understand what the map was saying.

Now, we don’t have that problem. Our modern maps talk back. We wait for the directions, then we make the decisions.

I mention maps because, while I’m grateful for the new technology that helps us avoid traffic jams and such, I believe a creative career is more like reading a paper map than following a GPS.

Let me explain.

With the advent of so many creative resources on the web (including this one), it might be tempting to an artist to look for a GPS style shortcut to success. Surely, if you simply type the destination you are seeking – a big recording contract, your own creative studio, your name in lights – into a search engine like Google or Bing, one of the search results will give you exact directions to the place you’re looking for. After all, if there are 10 sure-fire steps to creative success, it’s already been posted somewhere.

However, we all know that’s not how our careers transpire.

We usually start with a desire to create, to go someplace with our talent. We have a faint idea of where we want to go. So we open up the map, which in this case is the local scene. We try to make sense of the landmarks, the people we need to know, the information we need to figure out. The general direction might be clear, but the map doesn’t guide you turn by turn. You have to figure that out on your own.

And, once you have figured out something, you can’t put the map down. You then have to learn the next destination’s route, work out detours, and rethink your journey. In other words, it’s a continuous process.

Resources like God and Gigs are here to help you figure out the map, but we can’t give you turn-by-turn directions. Those kind of decisions always come down to what’s best for your life, what’s in your heart, and where God is leading you.

It would be great if there was a creative career GPS that told you every correct move to make and road to avoid, but we might have something better.

It’s your creative intuition, and it will not likely steer you wrong., especially if you ask for your Creator’s guidance.

He’s got a great view of where you’re going.

Share your thoughts:How do you figure out what to do when you come to major decisions regarding your career? What resources do you rely on? You can leave a comment by clicking here.


NOTE: If you’d like more inspirational and encouraging material like this in an easily accessible format, consider subscribing to the God and Gigs Show podcast.

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I’m Allen, author of God and Gigs. I’m passionate about helping everyday artists excel in everyday life, by helping them strengthen their faith, improve their careers and deepen their relationships. You’re invited to join this community of faith-focused creatives, musicians and artists by signing up for my newsletter at godandgigs.com/signup.

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