I mentioned before that I’m not an “expert” on goals. Yes, I’ve reached some of my ambitions. But, by no means have I realized them all. Like, I still haven’t won the MacArthur Genius Award. I’ve never shown in the Whitney either. Of course, I have plenty more that are much more attainable, thank Jesus. But I mean, why listen to me, of all people?
Well, I know one thing about goals and ambitions in general. It’s not exactly a secret. But people’s big dreams are most often wrapped up in fear. Fear is what stops most people from moving forward, drawing a line on a blank canvas, taking risks, asking for help, or thinking they can be amazing. It can be debilitating and keep you frozen in place, sometimes for years.
I’d like to mention here that one of the biggest fears I hear among artists is their fear of not being good enough. If they don’t tell me this straight out, it’s inferred in some way. I’ve felt the same at times, so take or leave what I have to say about this, but I do think it’s important to hear…
You don’t have to be a “great” artist. You don’t even have to be good. You just have to be good at what you do. I mean, you should strive to be great at what you do, of course. But don’t get hung up on being “better” than others.
One of my favorite books I encourage every type of artist to read is Art & Fear by David Bayles and Ted Orland. I read this book every couple of years myself. You can read this thing in one sitting because it’s short. I just gave it another read before writing this. It talks about specific fears about artmaking, both internal and personal, and external when navigating the art world. It’s been a help to me in my overall practice and has encouraged me to take more risks. It’s influenced me to go left when the “shoulds” in my head are telling me to go right and listen to my gut.
Another thing I’ve found to be more helpful than defining your goals is to first define your fears. Yup. Scary shit. Think about these carefully and write them all down before you even think about your goals. Make a list of at least twenty of your biggest fears. Go ahead. I’ll wait.
If you want to get super in-depth into this exercise and hear an analytical approach as to why defining your fears is the answer, watch this short Ted Talk of this athletic-looking bald guy, Tim Ferriss. It’s not even fifteen minutes long. That’s not much of an investment, is it? I really recommend you watch it.
Trust me, evaluating your fears first is the preliminary step. Writing them down and giving them real consideration is an excellent way to achieve some radical acceptance in your life. A lot of the time, fears can be irrational, unlikely, and easily nullified. Some might be founded in reality, but those can be remedied too.
Once all that get’s squared away, then we should talk about your biggest goals and dreams. But I certainly don’t want to scare you away. Not yet, anyway. Maybe I’ll do that this coming Thursday…