28 01, 2024

Fighting for Special


A few years ago, during one of our legendary Fine Art Trips to Europe for art lovers and collectors, we were in Scotland visiting art museums and private collections — including the second-largest private art collection in Europe, housed in a castle that made Highclere Castle or Downton Abbey look like guest houses. When we arrived at the castle and the footman opened the massive doors, a bagpiper in full regalia played as we entered and walked up the curved marble stairways for a group photo. For an hour or so, we were able to walk into every room and view the extensive artwork collection including rare works by Da Vinci, Raphael, Rubens, Constable, and just about everyone you could imagine, including a “modern” artist, John Singer Sargent, who was commissioned to paint the owner’s portrait  a hundred years ago.

Dinner Is Served

About an hour into our visit, chimes rang out, inviting us into a dining room with a 40-foot-long table, elegantly decorated. A huge fireplace at the end of the hallway warmed the room, which was lit by candlelight chandeliers overhead. Soon the butler and his uniformed footmen served our seven-course meal. Midway through dinner, I clinked my glass and said a few welcoming words to our guests, as did Fine Art Connoisseur editor Peter Trippi, followed by an opera tune sung by tenor David Orkuit. 

Drumbeats in the Distance

Following dessert, we gathered at the rear entrance to meet our bus, but were surprised to hear a drum corps emerging from the distant fog. As they got close, the 12-man drum and bagpipe troupe played a couple of Scottish tunes, then disappeared into the mist, playing as they marched away. Everyone was surprised, and all had tears streaming down their faces. I knew it was coming, and still had tears; it was one of the most beautiful and memorable moments of my life. My goal was to create a moment my guests would never forget, knowing some may never return to Scotland, and also knowing this one moment would be locked in their memories for the rest of their lives. We’ve done 11 of these art trips, and each has had a few equally powerful memories.

Life is about memorable moments. It’s about experiencing them, and it’s about creating them. 

Impossible Is Best

I was reminiscing about my career and some of the memorable moments I’ve been able to create for my family and for my friends and customers over the years. There are too many to mention here, but they’ve always involved an element of the impossible. I always wanted to give people an experience that was beyond expectation. Usually such experiences weren’t affordable and I’d have to find ways to make them happen without money, making the success even sweeter. 

A Bag of Tricks

I’ve brought tanks and elephants into buildings, and jugglers and fife-and-drum corps to stages I was speaking on. I’ve worn a spacesuit and a Revolutionary War uniform, had circus performers and people on stilts, mounted cars to billboards, driven a mini electric car onto the stage, and dozens of other things I was told were impossible to arrange. Last year at the Plein Air Convention I brought a gospel choir on stage for two songs.

I’m sure I got this from my dad. I can remember him holding a customer party at our house and bringing in a professional fireworks display. I took his idea and did the same at our lake house to celebrate the 10th Publisher’s Invitational in the Adirondacks.

Do It Right

My dad used to say, “Son, always do everything in four-color even though it’s more expensive.” What he meant was that, back in the day, it was a lot of extra money to print brochures in color. At the time, most of his competitors did things in black and white. Four-color was a metaphor for doing everything with excellence. Do the unexpected. Stand out. Don’t be the same as everyone else.

Extra Effort Is Worth It

Sometimes the most memorable family events are when something occurs that no one expects. Maybe it’s game night, maybe it’s dinner in the backyard in a tent. My dad used to do dessert in his teepee at his lake place, and he would do a trappers’ cabin breakfast for guests in a little cabin on his property. When the lake kids were at our home for Junior Yacht Club, we would put out a hundred whipped cream cans and do whipped cream fights. Other parents were mortified, but those kids will remember that for their entire lives, along with everyone jumping in the lake to get the sticky off. 

Everyone does the expected. Only a few do the unexpected, because it takes extra effort. But what if every experience people had with you was memorable? What if every touchpoint was memorable? 

What can you do to stand out? Not just so you stand out, but so you’re making people feel alive, giving them an experience they will never forget?

What if your co-workers saw you as the person who always makes the extra effort, who does things that no one else is willing to do? I’ve worked with hundreds of people over my career, but only a few stand out in my memory as the crazy ones that went the extra mile.

People want to be entertained. They want to feel alive. They want to have memorable experiences. 

Expectations should always be met, but whenever possible, they should be exceeded. Why be boring? Why not stand out by doing excellent graphics, using exciting words, by taking the routine and making it exceptional?

There Will Be Naysayers

Warning: When you stand out, some will call you a clown, a showman, a P.T. Barnum. You will always have someone who gives you negative feedback. They won’t like the music, or the dancing, or the theatrics. When you go to a Tony Robbins event, it’s loud, it’s musical, there is dancing, and for some, it’s off-putting. It was for me, and I understand his intent. I had to tell myself, “You won’t get anything out of this unless you get into it and participate.” My colleague went and could not stand the music and drama and left, and missed out. Don’t miss out. Don’t be the person who rains on the parade. Jump in, have fun, and get into it. And don’t let the naysayers get you down.

Clothes Removed

One year I was invited to speak at the regional convention of the National Religious Broadcasters. As I stood on stage in front of a few hundred broadcasters, all wearing suits on a Saturday, I started my speech, then stopped and said, “It’s Saturday. Would you mind if I loosen my tie?” They nodded. A little later, I paused again and took my tie off. Then I asked if they would mind if I took my suit coat off. They nodded, and I asked them to do that, too, so they were more comfortable. Some did. Then, a few minutes later, I took off my shirt and my pants behind the lectern. I could hear some gasps.

Of course I had a T-shirt and jeans on underneath. But the point I wanted to leave them with is that you can’t reach people if you are stiff and formal. Paul said to relate to man “in his times.” I suggested that they needed to be more appealing to people who were turned off by their approach. The point was made, and guaranteed, they not only remember it to this day, they still talk about it. 

Ask yourself: What can I do to make my point remembered?

What can I do to stand out?

How can I make an experience more memorable? 

To celebrate our 10-year anniversary, my wife asked me to take a few days off, drove me to the airport, and, once we were past security, blindfolded me and took me to the gate. I did not know where we were going. Soon we boarded the Concorde for a three-hour flight to London. We spent a couple of days there and came back. I’ll never forget it as long as I live.

Where is the element of surprise in your life, with your family, with your friends, with your customers? It’s never too late. 

Eric Rhoads

PS: This morning, when I prayed as I first got out of bed, I asked God to help me bring back this element of my life, to help me step out and work harder to create more memorable experiences for my people. I know it’s a weird prayer, but I know I used to do those things more. As life gets busy, as business gets more complicated, it’s easy to forget to do it. Yet it’s important to me.  Only time will tell what He puts into my brain.

PS 2: On Friday I wrapped up our fourth Watercolor Live online conference. We had a massive number of people attending from all over the world. I think it changed a lot of lives and helped a lot of people discover something that will give them joy for their entire lives. Several people told me this was their fourth Watercolor Live in a row; others were first-timers and said they will be back. Pretty much everyone said it was a life-changing experience — especially those who did not think they could paint and who have now progressed further than they could have imagined in a few days’ time. I’m thrilled that a large percentage have already signed up for next year.

PS 3: It’s about to become busy again. PleinAir Live, an online training event with mostly outdoor painting demos from top artists, is taking place in March. Then, in late March and early April, I take a group to paint cherry blossoms in Japan at PleinAir Japan, which is sold out. In May we hold our Plein Air Convention & Expo, which has only 61 seats left, and then it’s on to my Publisher’s Invitational painters’ retreat in the Adirondacks, which is already 70 percent sold out. Then summer begins! And when it’s over, I do Fall Color Week, in Carmel and Monterey this year and already 50 percent sold out. Then it’s Pas

Fighting for Special2024-01-28T08:43:51-05:00
22 01, 2024

What Is Your Gut Telling You?


Everything is frosty as I gaze out the window after a week of arctic blast. The ice is gone, but the trees and distant mountains are covered with frost, soon to go away as the sun finally starts to warm the air. 

A week ago today, I had a moment of parental clarity saying I needed to make the trip back from Florida to Austin with my kids to help with college move-in. So I bought a last-minute ticket, threw a couple of things into a carry-on bag, and landed in Austin a few hours later. The contrast of Florida’s chilly temps versus the arctic air was startling. 

On Monday I drove off  to school and carried boxes up and down the stairs, giving me a great workout, and I was back in Austin on Tuesday morning. I was tempted to head back to Florida for a few days, but since I had to come back here on Sunday for an event I’m hosting, I decided to stay. But I’m reminded that cold weather has worn out its welcome with me.

Golden Silence

I’m not used to being alone. Pre-COVID, I traveled on 40-plus trips a year, but since then I’ve been intentional about reducing travel time, and when I do travel, I’m usually not alone. It’s rare to be alone in this empty house, without the sound of dogs or family. It’s kinda nice. But I have to admit, my first instinct was to fill the void by going shopping or calling some friends to have dinner. 

But then I thought, I’m going to stay home and enjoy being alone. Since then the TV has not come on once, but I can play my guitar and sing as loud as I want and blast my music without worrying about others. I plan to slip out for some painting on the weekend. And I’m not sure what yet, but I’m going to find something different to do, something I’ve never done before, just to step outside of my comfort zone.

Comfort Zones

Being alone is out of my comfort zone, and doing something totally new will be too. I have a love-hate relationship with discomfort. I’d rather be comfortable, but I also love discomfort because it always stimulates growth of some kind. When I started my 2024 planning, I asked myself, “What can I do this year that will be so big, so uncomfortable, something I’m afraid of doing, something I’m not sure I can pull off, but will cause growth and reinvent what I’m doing?”

Keeping Stability

When I came in for the new year and laid out some of my plans, I heard mixed reactions. Some said, “It can’t be done” and others said, “It’s too risky.” And some said, “It’s about time we tried something like that.” Interestingly, I can almost predict what each person will say.

Not Trusting Research

Years ago, I had an idea for a product that had never been done. So I created a mockup, asked around, and 100% of the people I asked told me there was no need for it and they would not buy it. When I asked what they needed, they told me they needed the things everyone else was already doing. So, in spite of 100% negative research, I built the product, launched a company, and put it into the market. They were right, no one wanted it … that is, until I figured out that people need social proof. I needed someone respected to buy my product, and once that happened, everyone followed. My little product idea saw over $6 million in sales over two years. 

More Negative Research

On another occasion, I had an idea for a magazine. I researched it and got the same answer as before: There is no need, no interest. But my gut told me differently, I launched it, and PleinAir Magazine is thriving. It had a rocky start, had to close for a while, but when I brought it back, I tweaked how it was presented, launched it with a convention, and it’s been a hit ever since.

Am I Anti-Research?

Every day I deal with marketing people, ad agencies, and experts, and they are all deeply in love with research. “Find out what people want, and give it to them” is the mantra. And though I do this constantly, the gut still plays an important part. I know my audience deeply because I hang out with them at my retreats and painters’ events, and I observe what they do, what they talk about, and what frustrates them. Sometimes when I ask, the things I see never even come up. Yet if I feel strongly enough about something, I often defy research and do it anyway. My failure rate is high, but some of the most successful things I’ve ever done were initially met with resistance and naysayers. 

The Importance of Gut

Each of us has the gift of knowing when something feels right or wrong. We’re often met with a gut feeling, an intuition that tells us that what is logical may not be the right thing to do. I think your gut is more important than any research you can do, and we should all pay closer attention to what our gut is telling us. 

Listen to Your Heart

There is some very interesting new research about following our heart, or our gut. Scientists have recently discovered that heart transplant patients start having unfamiliar memories, different behaviors, and even different food preferences once they get their new heart. Research suggests they have taken on the memories and preferences of the deceased donors. In one case, for instance, a white recipient heard about this and thought he might start liking rap music because his donor was a young black man. Instead he started liking and listening to classical music, something he had never done in his life. Clearly, this idea of taking on the donor’s memories was mistaken, until researchers who interviewed the donor’s family found out the young man had been a virtuoso classical violinist. Researchers now believe the heart is one of the primary “hard drives” in our system, communicating with the brain more than any other organ.

Where has your gut been, right when others thought a different solution would be better?

What is something you’re facing now where you should maybe be paying more attention to your gut response?

Is there a tug-of-war between your gut and your brain in a current situation?

There is a significant amount of data that not only supports this idea of the memory in the gut, but saying that if we spend time in prayer or meditation, if we quiet our busy lives a little bit every day, we’re likely to make better, more well-rounded decisions. Scientists say intuition is a powerful force, if you take time to listen to it.

I have to admit that my mind is clearer on the days that I exercise and get my heart pumping, and less so when I skip a day. Everything is tied together.

Recently I’ve had to make some challenging decisions, some of which were against the advice of people I trust. I spent a lot of time listening, taking a lot of things into consideration, and made some big leaps of faith to go against that advice and trust my intuition. Time will tell if I’m right or wrong, but even if I’m wrong, I’m invigorated by being out of my comfort zone and the prospect of what could be. I highly recommend it.

You’ve Got This

One last thing … this is your life. You get to make the final decisions. One of the hardest things I ever have to do is follow my gut against the advice of others. Every time I defy advice, I get butterflies in my gut, wondering if I am making the wrong decisions. Ultimately, owning a business like I do, if I’m wrong and screw up, I’ll pay the price. Yet the best advice is to not allow the pressure and influence of others, even if they’re smarter than you are, to encourage you into making the wrong decision. The hard part is they might be right, and you might be wrong. But follow your beliefs. It will serve you well.

Follow your gut.

Eric Rhoads

PS: “We need to stop this now that COVID is over. No one will come, and it will bankrupt us if we do it and they don’t show up.” These were the words of advice of a counselor who said that I should not continue to do my virtual online conferences after the pandemic was over. But my gut told me something different. It said, “You may lose a few, but most of the people who attend do so because they want the content and can’t travel because of their responsibilities at home.” 

On Tuesday we begin Watercolor Live for the fourth time, and attendance is healthy, substantially large, and about the same as when people were locked down and had time on their hands. Hundreds of new people have signed up to join the hundreds who return year after year to see the world’s top watercolor masters share their techniques. 

I’ll be hosting Essential Techniques Day on Tuesday, which is designed for beginners and as a refresher. If you want to learn watercolor, even if you can’t attend the whole week, attend this one day, which will cost you about the same as a dinner out but will serve you your entire life. 

If you believe you want to try painting, I believe watercolor is the best entry point. But there are so many different ways to do it and make your work look good, we all need coaching like this. If you attend and feel it was not worth your time or money, let me know by the end of the day and I’ll refund your investment, whether it’s Essential Techniques Day or all four days of Watercolor Live. 

Though following your gut is important, sometimes your gut tells you, “You can’t do it, Don’t bother.” That is what Tony Robbins calls the “reptilian brain” trying to protect you. It’s why we naturally default to the negative. If you spend your life listening to that voice, you’ll not live the rich life you deserve. You have to defy the negative voice and take risks. 

I’ll see you at Watercolor Live —  www.watercolorlive.com. If you can’t attend, you can still watch it on replays for up to a year.

PS 2:

I struggle with something. We have invented so many things for artists and people who love art that we have a ton of things to talk about. Yet people tell me all the time that they did not know about something and wish they had. We have a rich number of offers, new art instruction courses (we have over 700 professionally produced courses, which is unheard of), new art retreats, new art conventions, new online events, new newsletters and magazines, and so much more. 

If you’re on our e-mail list, you’re getting hit with a lot of different things. At my last Fall Color Week, one attendee scolded me about a different event: “If I’d known about that, I would have come. Why didn’t you tell me about that?” I gently asked, “Do you receive e-mails from us?” “Yes, but there is so much, I don’t open them all.” I then reminded him, “That’s how you missed it.”

We send so much because we offer so much. Give ’em a quick open and glance. You’ll find new things all the time, and lots of other great stories and tools. You’ll be glad you did.

What Is Your Gut Telling You?2024-01-22T13:28:44-05:00
14 01, 2024

One Thing to Solve Every Problem


If my memory serves me, Florida is supposed to be warm, sunny, and a good place to escape to during winter weather. It’s not any of those things at the moment. But I suppose it’s all relative, because, in spite of low temperatures by Florida standards, it’s a vast improvement over most of the country, which is suffering with record lows and giant storms. 

The flags on my dock are blowing at full speed, driven by intense high winds. The sunrise was hard to notice because the sky is dim and overcast, and the air has a chill. Yet I love the smell of salt air and the sound of pelicans, ospreys, and cranes flying over the choppy, splashing water. Chilly or not, I’ve got nothing to complain about.

Vacation Is Over

Today is a bit of a somber day, but also one to celebrate. Is it possible for two conflicting emotions to be trapped in my brain at the same time? My kids leave us today to return to college, which is sad. It’s been fun having them around. But it means our empty-nester routine can go back to normal, and we won’t have to deal with dishes left in the sink and stocking the fridge with mounds of food for starving college-age appetites. Still, it’s all met with mixed emotions.

Tear-Filled Goodbyes

It’s a joke in our family: Daddy’s going to cry again. I tear up a little when the kids or other family members leave. I always have. But somehow it helps to reframe the situation to consider all the benefits of having them leave. 🙂

Hanging a New Frame on the Wall

Reframing is a concept I wish someone had taught me years sooner. Being able to manipulate my own thinking has been helpful, because doing it lets me gain a new perspective.

For example, I could never seem to grow my company beyond a certain level. I always looked at my business as a publishing company, and as long as I thought of it as publishing, I seemed to fall into the trap of only selling ads and subscriptions. My first reframing was to tell myself I was also in the events business. By doing that, I started to consider things I’d not previously considered, like creating conferences. The result was a massive increase in my business. 

Later I added “travel” to my reframe, and I broadened my business into travel services like painters’ events. And when I hit a wall, I reframed my business as a direct response marketing company, which impacted how we sold products. This was revolutionary. So whenever I find myself stuck, I search for a reframe.

A Classic Reframe

It’s so easy to fall into traps. Edison famously said that he hadn’t failed 10,000 times, he’d just found 10,000 approaches that wouldn’t work. This reframe allowed him to persevere until he found answers, long after most of us would have given up.

Reframe Away Stress

In 2002, my company, RadioCentral (one of the first Internet radio services), blew up, and my own board of directors fired me from the company I founded. Though I could have told myself I was doomed, I reframed it as a new opportunity to do work differently. My last day of work was the day my triplets came home from the hospital, so I reframed that I could now work from home and be a dad, being there for my wife and kids. It melted the stress away and made a huge difference.

Reframing Addictions

Writer and cartoonist Scott Adams talks about reframing drinking by simply asking himself, “Why would I put poison in my system?” Every time he was tempted to take a drink, he would tell himself he was about to pour poison down his throat. 

The Classic Reframe

I’ve heard it a million times. “No one ever says on their deathbed, ‘I should have worked more.’” This reframe works great when you’re a workaholic, like I used to be, or when you’re guilt-tripping about whether you really need to work on a weekend.

Of course, the deathbed can be used to reframe other things, like stress. “Is this going to matter when I’m on my deathbed?” No, of course it won’t. Whatever it is won’t even be a speck on the radar. Stop worrying.

Sleepless Nights

A couple of weeks ago, I was having some issues in my business, and I found myself lying in bed with my head spinning about the problems. Then I remembered something my dad said he used to do. He reframed by saying, “Stress only keeps me from thinking clearly and leads me to worse decisions.” So he gave up worry and stress. 

If Dad was having a sleepless night, he would get out of bed, write down everything he was worried about on a tablet, then go through the list one at a time: “Can I do anything to solve this problem tonight?” If he could, he did. But most things had to wait, which allowed him to reframe: Worry only disrupts sleep, which impacts your ability to deal with things properly in the morning.

Though these little tricks seem overly simplified, they are very effective at tricking your brain to overcome the things that are bothering you. 

What areas do you need to reframe? Will these things matter in two weeks? In five years, or 10 years, or at the end of your life? Probably not.

Flip the Switch

Sometimes reframing is so powerful that it’s like flipping a switch, turning a problem off or revealing an opportunity.

What is your biggest problem today? Reframe it.

Reframing the Economy

I have lots of artist friends who tell me they are not selling any artwork because the economy is bad. Others I know reframe it and tell themselves, “This is the best time to advertise because there are fewer people advertising. As a result, I can steal everyone else’s customers. And for those who aren’t buying now, I’m branding myself at a time when I can brand more easily and effectively because there are fewer advertisers. When things change, the people who can’t buy now will seek me out when they are ready.” 

It’s a brilliant strategy, and it’s been proven to work. Kellogg’s was launched during the Great Depression. Post, king of the cereal category at the time, ignored Kellogg’s because they believed no one could take away their market dominance. So Post did no advertising while Kellog poured it on. By the end of the Depression, Kellogg’s had the number one market share, and Post has not caught up to this day. 

Ask yourself: 

What do I need to reframe?

Where do I find myself stuck?
Where do I continually have drama in my life?

What things bother me that shouldn’t?

Reframing is a great way to overcome any issue.

Eric Rhoads

During the pandemic, I reframed my fear. “How am I going to survive? How will I meet payroll?” Business had come to a complete stop. Then I started reframing… “People are scared to death, what can I do to help them? My people are not busy, I might as well do some things to keep them busy, entertained, and help them overcome their fear.”

Showing Up

First I launched a daily YouTube program called Art School Live. I broadcast free art lessons with other artists every day of the week for seven months. After seven months, I reduced it to five days a week, and it has gone on since and continues to this day. It was showing up when no one else was, and I ended up reaching millions, building my YouTube subscribers to over 100,000. And it helped my business in other ways. In fact, because of it, my artist retreats are selling out four or five months in advance, and the Plein Air Convention has only 41 seats left, five months in advance.

A Painful Day

In the first week of COVID shutdowns, we had 95 percent of the Plein Air Convention attendees cancel, and we refunded everyone’s money who asked. It was painful, but it was the right thing to do. But rather than saying we couldn’t have a convention, we reframed it; we would start doing art conventions online. This resulted in launching our online events. The income from those events saved our business.

The End of a Good Thing Did Not End

When COVID was over, all the experts said online conferences were over. But instead of stopping, we reframed them as online conferences for people who were unable to travel, who were at home raising kids or taking care of someone, and for those who couldn’t spend the money for an in-person event. The reframe saved the events, which continue strong to this day. As a matter of fact, our next event, Watercolor Live,  is January 24-26. If you want to learn watercolor, you should at least come to our Essential Techniques Day for beginners or as a refresher.

Every problem or challenge can be addressed with a reframe. 

One Thing to Solve Every Problem2024-01-13T18:06:55-05:00
11 01, 2024

Your Countdown Begins Now


Dolphins frolic in the water with their fins bobbing up and down, right beside the dock. Looking down into the water, shading my eyes from the reflection of the warm morning sun, I can see a stingray slowly cruising along the sandy bottom. The flag blows in the breeze, just enough wind to keep it steady. 

Driving the U.S.A.

Earlier in the week I set out to drive from Austin to the central coast of Florida, where I hope to spend part of the winter, escaping “cedar fever” season in Austin. That’s an allergy almost everyone gets after three years there that can cause flu-like symptoms for the first couple of months of the year. Those are also the coldest months, making time away even more appealing.

Pioneering Virtual Work

Thirty years ago, my company had an entire floor of an office building in West Palm Beach. One day one of my team members, Chuck Renwick, asked if he could work remotely because all his work was done on the phone and via e-mail (new technology at the time). He wanted to live in the Carolinas. I agreed to give it a try, and it worked so well that when our lease expired, I downsized the office from the whole floor to a small corner, asking everyone to work from home. For decades, I’ve been able to work from anywhere with no obligation to a fixed location, and that’s why I’m able to spend time in a remote location this winter. 

A Specific Plan

In 2002, when our triplets were born, I was fired from an early-stage Internet radio company I’d founded in San Francisco, as the company went down with the Twin Towers and the economy. Though upsetting at the time, seeing my dream crumble was a chance to reevaluate what I wanted my life to look like. 

What did I love about my last few years, and what did I not love? What did I want my life as a dad to look like? What were the things I wanted to make sure I did? What did I want to avoid? 

There is nothing quite like a kick in the teeth to get your attention. 

Though I’d been having the time of my life, living a dream after inventing something that could change the world of audio forever, I also discovered some things about myself that I did not love doing. And now that I was free, I had a chance to reinvent myself.


What if everything you had going for you came to a sudden stop? You’ve lost your income, and the things you’ve been working on for the last few years have been taken away. What if you could never do what you do now? Where would you turn?

Some people have to have things end badly before they realize what needs to change in their lives. We’re so busy keeping the merry-go-round moving at high speed that we can’t see that we’re dizzy and not enjoying the experience anymore. 

What needs to be reinvented in your life?

The magic of the week between Christmas and New Year’s is that things slow down, and the gift of the new year, beginning tonight at midnight, is that you get to make some resolutions. 

The countdown has begun. You have today and probably tomorrow to discover some things about yourself that need to change. And you have a fresh start to begin implementing them. 

Hopefully you won’t be forced to make hard decisions, but this is a chance to make some adjustments to eliminate the things you know need to change.

Broken Resolutions 

How many New Year’s Days have come and gone when you made resolutions and did nothing about them? How much longer will you tell yourself things need to change but do nothing? 

Here are some questions. The first thing that pops into your head is probably what you need to change. 

What needs to change regarding your health?

What needs to change regarding your diet?

What needs to change regarding your family relationships?

What needs to change regarding your spirituality?

What needs to change regarding your marriage?

What needs to change regarding your job?

What do you least look forward to doing?

What do you want to do more of?

What have you always wanted to do but never gotten around to? 

What do you hate about your life now?

Who do you need to spend more time with?

Who makes you happy?

Who makes you sad?

Who do you need to remove from your life?

If you were told you have three months to live — but you would have perfect health till the day you die — what three things would you do? What is the most important of the three?

What have you always wanted to do but fear?

What do you see yourself as, but you’ve never made it happen?

Here’s a tip:

Be detailed and specific in your answers.

And whatever comes up on your list, ask yourself, item by item, if you believe they can happen, 

The things you tell yourself probably can’t happen are likely the most important ones. 

Now ask yourself: If they could happen, what would have to change to make them happen? 

Add those things to your to-do list. 

Typically the biggest things that have not happened are the things we tend to tell ourselves are not possible.

But how do people build skyscrapers, invent rockets, and change the world?

They have fear, too. They have simply found ways to control it and not let it stop their dreams. 

What I Want for You

I set a giant, unreachable goal about three years ago. I wanted to teach one million people to paint. 

When I set the goal, it seemed impossible. So I lowered it to half a million. I lowered it again to half that, then half again. I ended up with a goal that I would teach 10,000 people to paint. But even then it seemed impossible. So I told myself it might as well be a million. 

I set the goal, and I announced it publicly so I’d be accountable. But I did not believe it. Yet after a couple of weeks of telling myself daily, “I am teaching a million people to paint” (not “I’m gonna,” but “I am”), it started happening, and things started falling into place. 

My brain paved the way. Total views of my YouTube channel have reached several million. 

I want you to know that you have the ability to overcome any obstacle, to do things you currently believe are impossible. 

I believe you can do impossible things. I believe in you more than you believe in yourself. Sometimes just knowing someone believes in you is enough for you to begin believing in yourself. 

But impossible things don’t happen until action is taken. Every small step toward the big dream is a step in the right direction. Any step toward the goal is courageous. 

If you make your list, pick the number one thing on the list and take action toward that thing every day, using focused time toward that goal, you will hit it. If you break down big, impossible steps into small, bite-size steps and knock them down like bowling pins, you will crush any impossible goal. 

“Small plans do not inflame the hearts of men.” — Napoleon

You can do this.

Eric Rhoads

PS: This message is spread worldwide to over 90 countries and hundreds of thousands of people. I’m honored that you open your e-mail every Sunday and thankful for all of you who forward messages to friends and family.

Only a tiny fraction of you live near me in Austin, Texas, but we’ll be at one of five services today (probably the 11 a.m.) at Austin Ridge, our home church. We hope to see you there. You can find it online at www.AustinRidge.org.

Your Countdown Begins Now2024-01-11T11:47:10-05:00
11 01, 2024

Rethinking the Impossible


The high-pitched bird whistle was one I did not recognize, yet a quick glance out the window revealed a huge osprey sitting atop the dock on the water before me. Moments later, he made the sound again, and then, with giant wings spread, he swooped down into the water and came up with a fish in his beak while making a loud whooshing sound. It was one of those unforgettable moments here in paradise on the Space Coast of Florida, where I will be spending part of my winter this year. I feel fortunate to have designed my life to work from anywhere there is a good Internet connection. And as we find ourselves traveling, we realize how little we really need.

My grandmother Luella used to say that as she aged, the years passed by like minutes. I can remember it seemed like school years would never end, when I was in school and when my kids were in school. But now my years are so packed with planned activities, we go from one event to another, and suddenly it’s time to start a new year and a new cycle of events.

Though I made a lot of plans and goals for the year, I’ve still not completed my planning process. My goal is to actually get it done this week so I can move on to other things.

Planning Time

As I alluded to last week, the most important part of planning is thinking. Asking yourself questions. And though I have planned thinking time on my calendar every week, I’m finding myself questioning my motives. 

Why do I do what I do? 

Do I want to continue doing it? 

Do I want to continue repeating the same things over and over, or am I ready to abandon some old things in exchange for some new ones? 

These are tough questions, because removing something successful might mean taking something away that my clients love, or it might mean losing revenue we need for survival. 

Yet the idea of adding more new things is overwhelming to me and to my team, who are already overwhelmed. 

So I have to ask myself this … knowing what I know now, if I were starting over, would I do the same things I’m doing today?

If not, what would I do differently? What would I change?


What would I not want to do anymore?

Creatures of Habit

We buy the same brand of cars from year to year because we like them, we’re comfortable with them, and it’s easier because we know we can trust them; we know what to expect. I have friends who bought a new house in the same neighborhood rather than trying a new area. 

Though we may be questioning the known, staying put and repeating the same things week to week and year to year is easier than making change and leaping into the unknown.

Far too often, we’re in careers based on decisions we made when we were too young to make good decisions. Think about how immature we were at high school or college age, when we fell in love with something that became our career. 

Would we pick that same thing today, knowing what we know now? Knowing what else is out there?

Stuck on an Old Dream

I spent decades in a career that was based on a passion I developed at age 12, and though I’m less involved, I am still linked to it today. Also, I continue to be passionate about painting, as I have been since almost three decades ago. But do I do it because I’ve invested so much into it, become so established and secure in it? Or because I am still as passionate as before? 

These are the kinds of things I find myself asking.

If change were not forced upon us, would you and I ever change? 

One friend got fired from a job after a long career in her industry. She would have retired in it, but instead found herself disconnected, unable to get employment in that industry because of non-compete contracts and because of her age. Reluctantly, she grasped for something, anything she could find, and it turns out she loves her new direction more than anything she ever did in her career, and wants to spend the rest of her career doing it.

So how do we make change if change isn’t pushed on us? 

Most of us don’t make change unless it’s dropped upon us like a nuclear bomb. Even then, we cling to our comfort zone, trying to get something close to what we know.

But what if you were forced into something and it turned out to stimulate you more than anything you’ve done in your life? 

What Holds You Back?

The first answer is to look at the boat anchors wrapped around us, the biggest being financial security. If you knew you could leave your current career for something that would make you happier, but you had to take a 50% cut in pay and move out of your existing nest, would you do it? I don’t know if I would.

A few months ago I talked about tapping into our subconscious mind. If I had to do something else and could not do what I’m doing now, what would it be? 

The answer coming into your head is probably the correct answer, if you catch it before you start judging it and coming up with all the reasons it must be the wrong answer.

What Should I Do Next?

I asked myself that question recently, and what came to my head was to become a stage speaker, to help people craft better lives, kind of like what Tony Robbins does. The other thing was to create a general interest podcast, interviewing smart people in areas that have nothing to do with what I do now. 

Will I do them? I’m not sure yet. Probably not, if the pain of losing what I’m passionate about is too severe. The upside would have to be bigger and better, and I’m not sure it would be. And my head automatically defaults to all the reasons it’s a bad idea… needing to start something new from scratch, not having financial security, and not seeing all the people I’ve grown to love at my events. These are the kinds of strings that we are comfortable being tied down with.

What Should You Do?

I’m not suggesting you do anything about any of this, but I do think it’s healthy to keep asking the questions. I also think that some of us face “reality” questions: Do I have the time, health, or energy? Frankly, I don’t think those things would stop me from pursuing something I love. After all, all the bad things that we predict could happen might not. So deal with them when they do. But don’t stop living because of fear of what might happen. 

A Great Example

I saw recently that Kentucky Fried Chicken was formed when Harlan Sanders was in his sixties. I had a great mentor, my own father, who forced himself to do something fresh and new about every decade. He started a new business at 70, and then another at 80, which he worked on till he was in his mid-90s while he was reinventing himself for the next chapter.

My friend John told me he was upset with his dad, who invested in a new shopping center when he was 80, because John ended up having to deal with it when his dad died a decade later. Though he was annoyed because he felt his father had no business making such a commitment at that age, it gave his dad something fun to do, it made money, and it kept his father mentally engaged. I think it was a great idea.

The thought of stopping, enjoying the fruits of my lifetime of labor on a boat or a La-Z-Boy chair, isn’t of interest to me. I want to be busy, emotionally and intellectually stimulated, and use the brain I’ve been given as long as it’s willing to keep operating. 

Dying at Your Desk

My friend Frank Covas, a broadcaster I loved and respected, an inventor who saw tremendous success, was always reinventing himself, loved life, and loved working. He did not die in a nursing home alone and unvisited, he died at his desk, at 2 o’clock in the morning, working passionately on some worthy project. When he learned he had a disease that was going to kill him, he and I sat down, he looked me in the eye, and he said, “This time, it’s gonna get me, there is no escape. I don’t know how long I’ve got, but I’ve got to get busy because there are things that need to be done that only I can do.” I loved that.

If you want clarity … write what you want someone to say about your life at your funeral. Read it out loud. Is it enough? Do you have regrets? Is there more you intend to do? 

Today is the perfect day to start filling in the blanks and answering those questions.

Eric Rhoads

This probably sounds lame to most people, but when I started PleinAir Magazine, I told myself I wanted to turn plein air painting into the next big sport, helping others discover the joy of painting, and painting outside. The mission was not to make money. Money usually follows when big change happens. Today, two decades later, there are more people worldwide painting outdoors than ever. The PleinAir Podcast has millions of downloads. There are hundreds of plein air events today, when there were only a handful when we started, and PleinAir remains the #1 selling art magazine nationwide at Barnes & Noble stores.

When I started Fine Art Connoisseur magazine, I was disgusted because the art world was snooty and it was not embracing the young realists who were doing work every bit as good as the Old Masters. I made it my mission to make art approachable, and to expose the work of these artists and help others discover how to do what they do. When we started, there were only about three or four places to learn how to create realism. But the students of those schools started their own schools, and now a third generation has started schools, resulting in a substantial number of places teaching academic realism. Plus we have had Realism Live online, and an in-person conference.

I did not launch these to make money. In fact, I lost money for years, knowing I needed to play the long game. I launched them based on a big vision for what could be. 

My next big vision is to change the way art is taught and learned. Too many people never do it because they believe that natural-born talent is required, which isn’t true. We’ve created over 700 incredible art instruction courses with PaintTube.tv, and we’ve trained many thousands with events like this month’s Watercolor Live online conference. And of course we’ve planted seeds for millions with our daily Art School Live YouTube channel.

Though there is more to do to optimize everything we do, the reality is that there are more hills to climb, more people who have a burning desire to change their lives and live dreams they may not think are possible. 

You have more in you. Make 2024 the year you make things happen.

Rethinking the Impossible2024-01-11T11:46:40-05:00