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Inner Work and Out Work: A Holistic Approach to an Artistic Career

by Debra Kirschner

How often are you told that following your dreams and being practical about your career are not opposing ideals? I, for one, have had a difficult time balancing my own passion and practicality; perhaps because I have always thought somewhere in my mind that this was impossible. Yet the belief that this balance is not only possible, but, in fact, ideal is exactly the approach taken in the NYWIFT Career Support Workshop led by Creative Coach Joanne Zippel.

Zippel explains that the purpose of her workshop is two-fold, “First to offer guidance and techniques that will deepen each group member’s inner support system (what I call the 'inner work') as well as help them take practical action (what I call the 'outer work') to make progress and achieve balance in their professional and personal lives. And second is to create a safe space and community where NYWIFT members can support each other in a group environment.”

The inner work begins with visualization—a series of exercises where each member imagines living her ideal life—without limitation. These visualizations help her to honestly identify what she wants and needs to survive and thrive in this business and in her life. The inner work also focuses on techniques and tools that help her disconnect from the negative patterns, fears and limiting beliefs that hold her back from visualizing and manifesting her vision.

The outer work takes many different forms—from building a skills-based resume, to conducting informational interviews, to members of the group honestly revealing what they need help with—and trying to find ways to help each other. And it is clear that each member of the group has been motivated to take critical bold steps towards what she wants. It helps that each woman states her intentions out loud at the end of each session, and that way the group can hold each other accountable.

This generosity begins with Zippel, who saw a need in the NYWIFT community for a workshop like this. Noticing that generally artists are freelancers working independently, she has observed that many of them "don’t have the support, don’t have the community—NYWIFT as an organization represents that community.”

Furthermore, when we look at our lives holistically, we consider all aspects: the very real need to make money, the families we have, the families we want, where and how we want to live and how our creative careers can thrive without sacrificing the other parts of our lives that are equally important. Sometimes this means finding the right “bridge work”—Zippel’s productive term for what is traditionally known as a day job—because this work can bridge the gap between our career work and our need for an income.

Zippel also finds working with NYWIFT members to be incredibly fulfilling. She has enjoyed watching group members productively navigate their career transitions and she hopes each member will be able to “focus inwardly to identify and clarify what she wants by connecting with the authentic creative place within herself and letting go of the limiting narratives and beliefs that no longer serve her—spend the time contemplating and creating action steps that will move her forward—and in the process use the wisdom and the resources of the group to encourage, provide contacts and give support.”

As a Creative Coach, Zippel does one-on-one coaching, and, in fact, as a member benefit, she does one complimentary session for each NYWIFT member. Some members continue to work one-on-one with Zippel after that first session. Others can simply use that session to gain a new, open perspective. And other members may want to participate in the next Career Support Workshop.

My own personal hope for NYWIFT is that more members can benefit from this experience and also use these smaller groups to make contacts. This productive, honest environment has helped me truly understand what an incredible resource NYWIFT can be. Learn more about Zippel’s practice.

Find Debra Kirschner online here.

Join the conversation on Twitter: #nywift | @nywift

NYWIFT programs, screenings and events are supported, in part, by grants from New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, and New York State Council on the Arts