If you couldn’t fail

Tell me if these scenarios sound familiar to you:

Dani took a job that made her feel like a sellout, just for the money. She felt ashamed.
 
Srini’s greatest success turned into a failure that had him contemplating suicide.
 
Sarah took a huge risk in her career, and got laid off months later. With three kids to provide for, she had just weeks to find a solution.
 
Andrew felt stuck and completely burned out by his work. He had to find his purpose again.

Each of these people risked. And they failed. In the process, some or all of them experienced confusion, regret, and a deep-seated feeling that they put those they love at risk. Why? Simply because they wanted to follow their passion to do creative work they loved.

I’ll bet there isn’t a week that goes by where you don’t reflect on a dream you have with your creative work, a dream that feels inaccessible because of your other responsibilities.

You may think to yourself:

“How can I possibly be so selfish to write, when I have to feed my kids and pay the mortgage?”
 
“One day, when everything settles down, I’ll have the time to do my art.”
 
“I should have started crafting when I was younger, when I still had a chance to succeed.”

These are thoughts that we all have with an incredible consistency. These aren’t thoughts that can be solved with a simple motivational poster featuring a cat who is “Just hanging in there!”

This is the day-to-day reality for nearly every creative professional — and aspiring creative professional — I have ever spoken with.

Those scenarios up top? With Dani, Sarah, Andrew, and Srini? There is another side to the story. The side we often focus on first and only:

Dani is a multiple bestselling author who Oprah has featured on her show. She writes full time, and has an enormous fan base.
 
Srini signed a two-book deal with Penguin’s Portfolio imprint, and runs a wildly successful podcast with thousands of subscribers.
 
Sarah turned being laid off from her job as an impetus to write and publish her book and relaunch her (successful) consulting business.
 
Andrew made millions as an entrepreneur and has freedom to live where he wants and how he wants. He is now 100% focused on his singular vision for his life’s work.

These four people don’t face any fewer challenges than you do, yet they found ways to clarify and prioritize their creative work.

To do so, they had to battle the four biggest challenges that stand in their way; things common to so many of us:

  1. You can’t prioritize what matters most because you are drowning in distraction. Not just social media and email, but real responsibilities such as kids, money, job, health and relationships.
  2. There is never enough time, regardless of how many time management books you read and productivity hacks you follow. The hours, the days, the weeks, and the months slip away with your creative work amounting to nothing more than a date you can never seem to show up for.
  3. You have tried again and again to make creative habits stick, and failed every time. The processes you read about seemed to suited to others who have wildly different responsibilities than you do.
  4. You struggle to feel you have permission to do creative work. Most weeks, it feels impossible to balance all of the emotional, psychological, and physical demands on you. Making time for your art or craft seems selfish.

These are universal problems standing between you and doing the work you love.

In the past few days, I shared deep conversations with successful creative professionals, digging into the reality of what it takes to succeed while managing the four challenges above.

In the next couple of weeks I want to explore how we can find solutions for these challenges. Watch for that.

In the meantime, I would love for you to comment below and let me know one thing:

If you knew you couldn’t fail, what is the one thing you would like to accomplish with your creative work?

Thank you.
-Dan

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