Hello everybody, welcome to episode 56 of Optimal Living Advice, the podcast where we take any questions you might have about the many struggles of life and get them answered for you here on the show. I’m your host, certified life coach Greg Audino. Today, we’ll be having a little chat about the truths of pursuing dreams, specifically a career in the arts, though it really applies to truths of pursuing any challenging career.
We’ll be breaking down the sacrifices necessary, whether or not those sacrifices should be committed to, and above all, how to find meaning in your work regardless. It’s a smart question and it applies to anyone out there who’s tempted to follow a dream. Let’s hear it…
QUESTION: “In my spare time, I like to draw and paint. A lot of my friends tell me that I should be making money for my work and do what I love for a living. I would love to of course, but I'm aware of what a massive commitment building a brand as a content creator is. I'm not exactly ambitious enough to face the potential failure and frustration over a hobby. I currently have a decent job in retail and make a sustainable living, but the work is unrewarding and unfulfilling. I don't feel like I have the ambition to make the commitment to art as a career, and I would hate to have my love for the hobby to be ruined by the struggle to succeed in the field professionally. Should I listen to my friends and commit full time to selling myself as an artist, even though I'm apprehensive about its potential? If so, how can I martial the ambition to succeed?”
Preparing for The Struggle
And there we have it, good question. I’ll tell you what I love about this question: I love that you’re preparing yourself for the struggle and reacting accordingly.
Everyone, take notes from this man: it is easy to pick a dream, everyone does it. It’s also not as effective as picking a struggle. And, of course, picking a struggle is not easy to do.
I commend you for being realistic about the sacrifices necessary to pursue a career as an artist. There will always be problems, and the idea is to create the best problems we can for ourselves.
Sometimes, that means being willing to bend on what the end goal is.
Should I Chase My Dreams or Money?
Before I go on, I want to refer you and anyone else interested in this very important concept to three other resources:
1. The Problem With Chasing Your Dreams
This was one of my first videos that I posted back in 2018, which happens to be about this topic.
2. The Horrifying Potential of Potential
This is another one of my videos on being overwhelmed by potential.
3. Motivation vs. Unsatisfying Work
Episode 11 of Optimal Living Advice would be helpful as it talks about finding motivation for hobbies in the midst of unsatisfying work. And the man who sent that question in is an artist as well, so I think there would be a good amount of crossover.
Okay, enough plugs. Though I really think those would all be useful to you right now.
Now, for as forthcoming as you were about the struggles involved in trying to work as an artist and your lack of motivation to overcome those struggles, you also said that you would love to be making money for your art. These two do not necessarily contradict one another, but they do beg a very important question that you really need to ask yourself; a question that can help you better understand the apprehensiveness you also mentioned.
That question is, “Are you being realistic about picking a struggle over a dream or are you letting fear prevent you from doing what you want to do?”
Finding Fulfillment and Meaning
The answer to that question gives you the answer as to how to find the fulfillment and meaning you seek. There is not a wrong answer to that question, but it is very important to pay attention to the honest answer.
If this is purely about you being honest with yourself about not being willing to make necessary sacrifices to become a paid artist, then you’re lightyears ahead of everyone else. If, however, being a paid artist means a lot to you but you’re afraid of failing at it, we’ve got more to talk about.
Let’s break down the path that you should probably go down depending on your answer to this question.
If this is purely about being realistic that you’re unwilling to go through the struggles necessary to become an artist, that’s more than fine. If only more people were mature enough to come to such a conclusion and take pride in less glamorous jobs.
There’s still the search for fulfillment, though, as you alluded to not getting it in your current job. Contrary to popular belief (or popular action anyway), fulfillment can and should be found in various areas of life, not just one or two. So first, consider other sources of fulfillment and how much you’re capitalizing on them.
I’m talking about relationships, health, adventuring, whatever.
Maybe you can use your artwork as a means of volunteering somehow. Better yet, in terms of career fulfillment, maybe you can find a job that combines your talents and passions.
It sounds to me like you’d be more than qualified to work at an art gallery, a museum, or perhaps auction off artwork. Should a pursuit like that come with a brief period without a job or less money, realistically, it’s a small price to pay, a temporary sacrifice if it means a life of more fulfilling work that allows you to be around something you love and not have to deal with the same degree of struggle if you were getting paid for your art directly.
This is also not to say you can’t continue in your current job and sell art at the same time. Sure, you might not have the time and energy to put forth as strong an effort as you feel is necessary for a full-time artist, but creating at your own pace and putting your art online for sale can still earn you a few bucks while not demanding a soul sucking amount of effort.
Fear of Not Achieving Dreams
On the other hand, if this is about letting fear cripple you, the road to fulfillment changes. I very much agree with you in that a priority here is not letting your love of painting and drawing dissolve. And the more it does dissolve, the harder it will be to spark some ambition in yourself.
Ambition is directly linked to belief. If you start to believe in selling your artwork for a higher purpose than making money, ambition will be easier to come by. Really reflect on how you believe art does or can help people. This doesn’t have to be forced and it doesn’t have to be untrue. I’m sure there are plenty of legitimate reasons you could come to as to how art can do good for people.
Right now, though, it seems your mind is more preoccupied with how the work could drain you. And it could, but that’s only one side of the coin. There are also reasons to be found in how selling your art can do good for the community and food for your soul. Finding and focusing on these reasons will make it easier to want to create and paid to do it.
I might recommend going to art festivals or networking with working artists to ask their opinions and see how they leverage these struggles. Plenty of people are doing it, so if you have the love for it and feel you could make the most of the required struggles, who’s to say you couldn’t do it, too?
All right, everyone. Thanks so much for listening today.
Again, if you liked this episode and are curious to hear more the truths attached to following your passions and turning dreams into a career, check out those recommendations I mentioned. Pursuing careers in this way is something that’s only talked about in a positive light, but like anything else, there are realistic reasons to be cautious. I’m always just trying to level the playing field for you.
Please send questions of your own to us by email. We’re at firstname.lastname@example.org
Email us your questions and we’ll do our best to get them answered for you on the show. We’d love for you to keep listening, so be sure to tune in next time. Until then, my friends.