Do you ever find yourself stuck in the past wishing you could have the things you used to have?  Does this prevent you from moving forward?  

In last week’s post, “So Many Dreams So Little Time,” I discussed the importance of enjoying the present and accepting that you achieve different goals in different seasons of life.  However, what if you want something that you had in another season of life?  What if you have a dream that ran it’s course, yet there’s this nagging piece of you that still wants it back?

There are many reasons why a past goal or aspiration may have run it’s course and now remains a memory of the past.  Perhaps it was time to move on. Maybe you went through a life change and circumstances indicated that it was time for a change.  Maybe you were forced to let your dream go. Well today’s post is all about those dreams and goals of the past that are haunting you in the present because you want to implement them in the future.  The good news is it’s possible to get the dreams of your past back!

Abandoned Art

“Is art ever finished, or is it merely abandoned?”

-Pope Eugene IV from the Netflix series Medici

I don’t know about you but I don’t like the word “abandoned.”  I don’t ever want to feel like I abandoned something.  There are many reasons to stop pursuing something or go in a different direction but using the word “abandoned” just sounds so harsh. Well good news: it actually takes a lot to abandon your art!

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In compiling that guide I did a lot of research on tax write offs for artists and one of the things I researched specifically was project write offs-the expenses you incur while working on something that may generate revenue in the future. For the most part, if you’re not actually making money on your project at the time you file your taxes then you can’t write off those expenses unless you incur a lot of expenses and then abandon the project. However, there are rules for a project to qualify as abandoned.  

Hope from the IRS

According to the IRS, in order for your art to be qualified as truly “abandoned,” they must see that you’ve made a clear intent to abandon to the point where there is no way you can possibly get your project back or start it up again.  It’s no longer accessible. Merely, putting something aside does not qualify as abandonment because it can still be retrieved at a later date.  According to this, abandoning your art is no east task.

So why do I share this? The bottom line is you most likely haven’t abandoned your art or goals, you’ve merely put them on hold.  If any piece of your past dream is at all accessible then you haven’t abandoned your dream you’ve just pressed pause and if you pressed pause then you can certainly press play which means that it’s possible to pick up your past dreams.  As an artist this is the most inspiring thing you’ll probably ever be told from the IRS. 

Using the Past to Influence the Future

To get back to the Medici quote, I think the point of it is that we are never finished creating.  We are never finished being artists. We can always build on something that we’ve created in the past and since walked away from because we thought it was finished.  

But We Can’t Live in the Past

The key here is to build on the past not try to replicate it.  You may not physically or financially be able to do the things that you did in the past.  If you are 60 years old and have osteoporosis, the likelihood of going back to being a professional ballerina in a dance company is slim.  This is why last week I discussed cherishing the present because you can’t do everything all the time and sometimes there is a limited window for certain dreams. However, the knowledge, skills, and passion you have for those dreams doesn’t just disappear into thin air.  You may not be a professional ballerina but does that mean you can’t dance for fun, teach, choreograph, be involved at a studio, or inspire other dancers?

If there is a past dream that you have left behind but want to put in front, you probably have that desire for a reason.  Pay attention to your inner longings and dreams.  Don’t let yourself dwell in the past to the point where you get stuck.  Instead, acknowledge your present, take the past and build on it so you are moving forward into the future.

What past dream do you want to build on?

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"You Know You're an Artist When..."

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