With all the positive blogging out there about "how to succeed," "you can succeed," "steps to succeed," etc., I thought I would mention reasons we don't. Let's stop procrastinating and face this head on, shall we? You know you've been avoiding the questions rattling around in your mind. I'm inviting you to step up and answer them boldly.
1. Fear. Sounds silly, but it is perhaps the number one reason we do not succeed. We have a fear of getting out of our comfort zone and trying something new; being laughed at for even trying; and fear of failing. A couple of weeks ago, the students at my workshop in Tuscany faced their fears. Every single person got out of a comfort zone and tried something new. Every single person realized that no one was laughing. And every single person felt failure just before accomplishment. So, my new bumper sticker... "Better to have painted and lost, than never to have painted at all." Are you afraid? Of what? Write that down. Answer that question. It can be anything from, "I'm afraid I'll be rejected by galleries." to "I'm afraid my spouse will think I'm stupid." Doesn't matter. It's fear. And it's keeping you from succeeding.
2. Excuses. You've heard plenty and made plenty. Learn to recognize when you are making excuses for not painting. I hear it all the time, especially from students, but from my peers as well. Truth is, we are all at different places in our lives and have different priorities. Those priorities, when looked at honestly, are not excuses. But when used to keep us from moving forward they go from being something important in our lives to being obstacles. Anything worth achieving is hard and requires dedication and time. Maybe you don't have a good place to work because of lack of space in your home. The whole outdoors is your studio. Maybe you have grandchildren to attend to; congratulations! That doesn't mean you attend to them 24/7. Maybe you just need to admit that there are things you would rather do than paint. No problem. As long as you are honest about it, you are succeeding. Ask yourself what excuse you use for not painting. Recognize when you use that excuse. Stop it.
3. Social Networking. It's all the rage and a necessary evil at times. But does it consume you? When I began blogging, my very first welcoming blog warned readers that I would not be doing this very often. And, if you are regular reader, you know that I have kept that promise. Facebook is a great tool as are the other half-dozen other facebook wanna be types. How many minutes a day do you spend there? Are you really just keeping touch or are you living on the web? If you are prone to addictive behavior, give yourself 5 minutes and get off! You could be at the easel (or attending to those grandchildren mentioned above). We all love keeping up with each other. I enjoy knowing about your life, your work, your child graduating, your painting selling. But if I miss a post or a hundred posts, the world does not turn on its axis. I'll catch up with you again at another great momentous occasion and you will do the same with me. I think there needs to be a 12-step program for social networking. If your virtual life is interfering with your REAL life, it can't be all good. How many minutes a day do you spend on facebook (or other)? If you're afraid to answer this question, take a good, close look.
4. Goals. Why don't we set goals? Do we not know what we want, or do we not know how to get it? Goals and success go hand in hand because to each of us "success" is something different. To some it may mean being at the top of the ladder, well-known, selling paintings for $50,000 each, and being the most sought after instructor on the planet. For others, it may mean getting in a couple of galleries and selling enough work to support painting habit. Still others may only feel success if they learn something new every day and see growth in their work. The point is, if you don't know what your personal goal is, how can you succeed at it? What would you like to accomplish this year? Next year? For life? Again, write these goals down. Then go for it. There are many ways to accomplish your specific set of goals, but no way to do so if you don't even know what they are.
5. Knowledge. With knowledge comes wisdom. With wisdom comes success. You can't expect this success to come over night. You are not a pop star. The artists you see rising to the top have been working at it. They have put in their dues learning the craft, knowing the market, and creating the work--piles and piles and piles of work. And, like we have all heard before, "The more you know, the more you know you need to know." Understanding that brings wisdom. Once you begin to experience wisdom, you may very well be able to acknowledge that you ARE succeeding in ways you never thought imaginable. It's all relative you know. It's relative to where you were 5 years ago, 5 months ago, and 5 peers ago. And if you can understand that there is no end to the success ahead of you, you will also need to start all over on this blog post often. Re-evaluate and answer the questions.
There are tons more reasons, but these are the ones that bump all over my little world every day. I hope you find some use here and create your own list of reasons as well.
Now let's all get off this inter-webby thing and get on to something more creative!