“Drawing Up Blueprints”: An essay by Bramani Quinn

Drawing Up Blueprints

After my first article, a lot of you want to know: how exactly do you follow your life’s passion? So, over the next few months we will cover every step you need to make it happen. Some steps will be simple, others will require a life time of practice, but they will get you results.

We know that we want to create this dream job, but beyond that we want to create a dream career, something sustainable long-term. We know that this creative force is what will drive the American economy into a new era of innovation; the overall happiness of the workforce will make growth and ingenuity a permanent state, and by carving out new niches in existing and emerging markets we create stability for the country as a whole. This is the theory behind our drive. It is the ground below the house we are building. It is not the reason you personally want to achieve your goals, but it will affect your process. You, building in it, will change it, and it will change the way you build.

So, in building a house, the first thing you need is an idea. Great, we have that already! Now it is time to draw up the blueprints. In making blueprints, you must be perfectly clear in what you want. How many rooms, doors, walls, floors, and windows will there be? What shape will the structure be? Where will everything go? How big will everything be? What will it be made out of? You must address these questions as they apply to your goals as well.

First, create the most detail you can in your picture. Where are you, how do you feel, who else is there? Do you own something or are you working for someone else? Are you an employer? How many employees do you have? Do you have regular, flexible, or variable hours? How much money are you making? Do you work independently, collectively, or collaboratively with peers and coworkers?

This can seem like a very daunting task at first. There are a lot of questions to be answered. Start with the big ones and work your way to the little ones. Remember to put yourself in a world without restrictions! Write down your answers in a new book or keep documentation on your computer. You will probably need a folder or a three ring binder for reference materials too. Make sure you can edit past accounts and include references and visual aids when necessary. You will use this documentation to brainstorm, hold yourself accountable, and make plans. As with any big process it is important to stay organized. You will probably do a lot of reflection and research over the next few months and it is important to have ideas and information handy. The closer you get to achieving your goals, the more important this will be.

As an example of what to do, I will state my dream and refer to it in my articles.

“I want to perform for a living. I have been belly dancing for six years and now perform burlesque, aerial silks, and fire eating as well. I also have an interest in health, wellness, and fitness. I want to marry my interests in a beautiful, creative space. I want to create a place where people can explore a multitude of performance arts and fitness activities. I see this place as bringing physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual wellness together. I will make it a place where energy is tangible and change happens all the time. I will have employees that teach various circus arts, yoga, meditation, healing practices, massage, fitness classes, nutritional wellness, and more. I will provide products and classes at a reasonable rate so that the people who need these outlets most can afford them. I will shine in my own artistic endeavors and encourage students and professionals alike to express their true selves through performance. I will run a full time professional performance group. The performers will also teach in the facility. All of the performers will be well versed in at least two arts and be driven to expand on their talents endlessly. We will create and choreograph performances collaboratively and travel the world performing incredible works of art. This is my complete dream.”

The first question you should address is “what.” I stated my dream; that is exactly what I want. It is big, it is everything I want. Forget the fact that there are not enough hours in the day to teach, manage, practice, train, and perform; that does not matter. Define everything you want! This will be your house, the walls, floors, windows, and doors. I like to start here because it is the easiest thing to picture and will help develop the answers to the next questions.

Next, address the why. My “why” is because I want to live passionately, with no regrets. I want to honor the hard work of my immigrant grandparents by truly achieving the American Dream. I will achieve this goal because I believe that it is my way of giving back to the world, that I can make a lasting change through performance, that I can express myself and change people’s attitudes and lives by teaching and performing. I want to work hard because that will make achieving my goal worth the effort. I want to train hard to change my body and be the best I can in everything I chose to dedicate myself to. I want to feel good about myself and help others feel that way too. I want to empower people to make changes in themselves and the world around them. I want to say a lot of things through my work.

Your “why” is the foundation for your house. No one will see it, but without it the whole thing will fall to the ground. At a personal level, “why” is how you get through the hard times, the mornings you do not want to get out of bed, the afternoons when television sounds like a much better option than doing more work, the weeks that never end, the months when nothing seems to pan out, and the years when it seems the world has turned its back on you. “Why” is what not only gets you through it, but keeps you moving in a positive direction, keeps you on track to achieving your goals. When addressing why, keep how you feel now and how you want that to change in mind.

Now ask, who? Who is building your house and who is living in your house? My dream is about me achieving something. I am building it, but I am not alone in my dream. I have employees, are they people I already know? Is my family involved in my dream? Who is my audience? Who would I trust while I was performing to run the studio? Do I want to have business partners to help me build? Who are my students? Who performs with me or for me?

Next tackle where. Where are you building? Where does not matter much to me geographically, but the space I intend to create does. That is my way of answering where. Your whole goal might be centered around a ‘where’. Another answer to where for me is that I want to perform internationally. That leads to other questions, who is taking care of my space when I am gone, who comes with me? Do not be afraid to revisit questions and expand on them.

Next up is when. When do I want to accomplish my overall goal? Every good contractor has a realistic timeline. I want to be performing/teaching full time within five years and want to own my space within ten. This is a long-term answer. As we create more specific steps in our journey we will create shorter more manageable time lines. For now, be generous, there will be hiccups in your plans so give yourself a lot of wiggle room. If you do not have an exact time frame in mind you can create a more relative ‘when’; such as, “when the kids are grown and on their own”, “when I can replace my current income”, or “when I finish my degree”. These can be harder to stick to but can be refined down the road.

Finally, how? How will you build your house? What resources will it require? This is often the hardest question to answer and will be broken down into a million pieces along our journey. For now, try to make a general statement of “how,” something like, “By building a reliable network of performers, maintaining an exciting website, having dazzling promotional materials, and booking paid performances as a group and solo act I will achieve the ability to sustain myself and my group.”

You may not be sure of some answers, and other answers might not even seem like answers at all. Sometimes, the answer is, “That does not matter to me” or “I do not know yet”. That is OK. Remember, this is a process. Be sure to write things down so that as you develop more answers and questions you can keep track.

You have a whole month to think about these questions. You can answer them all at once or take them on slowly, whichever feels best to you. Just be sure to answer them authentically, do not sell yourself short because you think something is unrealistic, and do not rush through your questions. The more precise your blueprints, the faster you can start building. Keep your questions and answers handy next month when we will take stock of our reality and set our first concrete goals.


Written By

Bramani Quinn

Soul Expressions Fusion Arts