A reader contacted me the other day with a question that was both philosophical and practical: How do you to measure success as a jewelry maker?

It’s an essential thing to consider, and the answer will vary depending on many issues, such as your deeply held values, experiences, thoughts about money, art, and many other things.

Whether you make jewelry to satisfy a creative desire, or to give others something you made yourself, or to spread happiness, or to put away for retirement, being mindful of why you are doing is critical. It can help you decide what to sell and what to keep, how to price your jewelry and much more.

For me, having fun and enjoying a flexible lifestyle where I will never again have to ask someone if I can leave early or take a vacation is extremely important to me. Independence is a primary driver of what I do, and that means there are other things I would sacrifice to keep that independence. It is also important to be financially secure, and I tried to make those two things go hand-in-hand.

How do you measure “success” as a jewelry maker? If the answer does not immediately come to you, think back to the very first piece you ever made and how you felt when you were finished. You may also think back to the very first piece you ever sold.

What was that like when someone handed you cash, a check or their credit card to buy something you made with your own hands? What were the emotions around those experiences? Would you continue to make jewelry even if you didn’t get paid for it?

When you’re ready to share those thoughts, which I realize are likely to be quite personal, feel free to comment below. It’s likely to be a powerful conversation.