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6 Famous Artists Talk About What It’s Like to Overcome Fear and Create Beauty

6 Famous Artists Talk About What It’s Like to Overcome Fear and Create Beauty

Long before I was publishing articles for the world to read, I wrote in a private document. I did this for more than a year. There were a variety of reasons and excuses that I used to rationalize why I wasn’t sharing my writing with others, but in many ways it boiled down to fear.

Here’s what I didn’t realize at the time: fear isn’t something that must be avoided. It is not an indicator that you’re doing things wrong. Fear is simply a cost that all artists have to pay on the way to doing meaningful work.

Obviously, not everything that is thought or written or created needs to be shared. In our age, where everyone has a voice and a platform, there is a lot of noise created.

However, if you have a story inside of you, I think you should share it. If you have an idea that you’d like to create, I think you should build it. If you have a dream that would make the world a slightly better place, then I think it’s your responsibility to deliver it to the rest of us. But it won’t be easy. All artists deal with fears, self-doubts, questions, and a roller coaster ride of emotions.

With that in mind, here are six passages from famous authors, actors, and artists on overcoming fear and unleashing your creativity.

1. Fear tells us what we have to do.

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steven-pressfield

    “Are you paralyzed with fear? That’s a good sign. Fear is good. Like self-doubt, fear is an indicator. Fear tells us what we have to do. Remember our rule of thumb: The more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.

    Resistance is experienced as fear; the degree of fear equates the strength of Resistance. Therefore, the more fear we feel about a specific enterprise, the more certain we can be that that enterprise is important to us and to the growth of our soul.”
    —Steven Pressfield, The War of Art

    In the beginning, it is more important to start than it is to succeed. It is only through starting that we reveal the opportunity for growth.

    2. Start small.

    seth-godin

      What we need to do is say, “What’s the smallest, tiniest thing that I can master and what’s the scariest thing I can do in front of the smallest number of people that can teach me how to dance with the fear?” Once we get good at that, we just realize that it’s not fatal. And it’s not intellectually realize – we’ve lived something that wasn’t fatal. And that idea is what’s so key — because then you can do it a little bit more.
      –Seth Godin (full interview)

      Mental toughness is a skill, and like any skill it can be developed. Learning how to overcome fear is just like building a new habit. Start small and increase slowly.

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      3. Run to the roar.

      tina-essmaker

        When you are thinking about doing something and it feels scary, when it feels like this big lion is waiting at the finish line and he’s roaring and he’s ferocious and he’s going to tear you apart… you should just run toward that lion anyway. Run to the roar.
        –Tina Essmaker (full interview)

        It’s not your job to tell yourself no. It’s not your job to reject yourself or grade yourself or debate the value or worthiness of your ideas. Your job is to create. Your job is to share. Your job is to overcome fear and run the race.

        Yes, if you build something people might judge it or dislike it. But if you don’t create and share the things that you have inside of you, then you’ll commit the far worse crime of rejecting yourself. You can either be judged because you created something or ignored because you left your greatness inside of you.

        4. Now is as good a time as any.

        hugh-laurie

          It’s a terrible thing, I think, in life to wait until you’re ready. I have this feeling now that actually no one is ever ready to do anything. There’s almost no such thing as ready. There’s only now. And you may as well do it now. I mean, I say that confidently as if I’m about to go bungee jumping or something — I’m not. I’m not a crazed risk taker. But I do think that, generally speaking, now is as good a time as any.
          –Hugh Laurie (source)

          It will never feel like the right time. Do not wait for someone to give you permission to begin. Nobody is going to tap you, nominate you, appoint you, or choose you and say, “Now, it’s time to start.”

          Give yourself permission. Successful people start before they feel ready.

          5. Artists endure.

          friedrich-nietzsche

            To those human beings who are of any concern to me I wish suffering, desolation, sickness, ill-treatment, indignities – I wish that they should not remain unfamiliar with profound self-contempt, the torture of self-mistrust, the wretchedness of the vanquished: I have no pity for them, because I wish them the only thing that can prove today whether one is worth anything or not – that one endures.
            –Friedrich Nietzsche, The Will to Power

            Ultimately, the chance to persevere through self-doubt and fear and procrastination is one of the greatest opportunities we have for self-discovery. It is through creating that we find out who we really are and what we are truly made of.

            Live in the arena rather than judging from the crowd. It’s more exciting down there. Whether you win or lose, the fight is the reward.

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            The bottom line

            Can anything be sadder than work left unfinished?
            Yes; work never begun.
            –Christina Rossetti

            Contribute to the world around you. Create and share the brilliance that you have inside of you. Life is not meant to spent solely consuming the things that others have made.

            James Clear writes at JamesClear.com, where he shares science-based ideas for living a better life and building habits that stick. To get strategies for boosting your mental and physical performance by 10x, join his free newsletter.

            This article was originally published on JamesClear.com.

            Thanks to Maria Popova of Brain Pickings for pointing me toward some of the quotes above.

            Featured photo credit: Lauren Finkel via flickr.com

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            James Clear

            James Clear is the author of Atomic Habits. He shares self-improvement tips based on proven scientific research.

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            Last Updated on June 2, 2020

            8 Reasons Why Goal Setting Is Important to a Fulfilling Life

            8 Reasons Why Goal Setting Is Important to a Fulfilling Life

            The importance of effective goal setting cannot be overstated on our personal journeys towards success. This is why there are countless articles out there on how to set your own SMART goals and even why it’s a skill commonly taught to a small degree in classrooms.

            Learning the importance of goal setting and the benefits of sticking to those goals can be the defining factor determining whether we truly embrace the importance of goal setting. The more willing we are to embrace this method, the more likely we become to reach our personal definitions of personal and professional success.

            Thus, today’s article is going to walk you through some of the benefits you’ll see from learning to set goals for yourself and answer the question, “why is goal setting important”.

            1. Goals Guide and Align Our Focus

            It’s hard to get to where you want to be in life if you don’t know what you’re aiming for. Some people believe avoiding goals means living a more care-free life. How many times have you heard the phrase “If I have no expectations, then I can’t be disappointed”?

            But is that really what our lives have come to? Living just to avoid disappointment? It doesn’t seem like an overly optimistic view in my opinion. And since you’re reading this article, I’m willing to bet that you agree with me.

            Without goals, we lack a degree of direction and focus. Sure you may be able to avoid disappointment, but just avoiding disappointment doesn’t mean you are necessarily happy.

            Without goals, we will pointlessly waste our time, energy, and efforts. Listen to anybody who is the top of their field and they’ll tell you something like this,

            “Yes talent is important, but often your success depends much more on what you decide to do with that talent.”

            And what you will do with your talent largely depends on your focus.

            Your goals give you direction. Your goals give you something to shoot for. This direction and target you create in your mind will help you to progress towards your main life goals rather than simply wander around aimlessly. These goals will help you align your actions and behaviors as you continue moving forward.

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            So, why is goal setting important? Because it gives you direction, alignment, and purpose!

            2. Goals Help You Avoid ‘Shiny Object Syndrome’

            Basically, shiny object syndrome is always being in pursuit of the next big thing, constantly switching your goals based on what you feel is most fun and interesting at the given moment, but never actually giving yourself time to accomplish any of those goals.

            You don’t get anywhere because you continually change the direction you are heading in. This is one of the consequences that may result if you decide to live a life without goals.

            Your goals can sometimes help you to create mental barriers, or blinders, that help you to remain focused on what you think is important and avoid the things that are second priority. When you outline goals for yourself, you are better able to avoid things that distract you from achieving and accomplishing those goals.

            Setting goals helps you to step around the other shiny objects because you’ve taken the time to make some mental notes that remind you what it is that you want from your life. Your goals act as subconscious deterrents to anything less than your main priorities. This is what helps you to reach your personal definition of success.

            So, why is goal setting important? Because not only do goals tell you what you want from life, but they also help you realize what you need to give up and avoid to achieve that.

            3. Goals Turn Our Largest Goals into Manageable Steps

            A lot of us have big hopes and dreams. It’s one of the things that make our lives exciting!

            But a lot of us never take the time to figure out how we can effectively get from point A to point B. So, sadly, we never fully achieve those goals. We look at our dreams and convince ourselves that only a select few people ever achieve them, so we write ourselves off as people not meant to reach that level of success. Looking at the end product of a goal can be intimidating, daunting, and discourage us from even pursuing them.

            Thankfully, goal setting helps us break large intimidating goals into smaller ones. These small steps and more achievable goals will help us to build momentum and will encourage us to keep working towards the next phase of our goal. The form the foundation from which we can begin building the life that we truly hope to have for ourselves, our families, and may even for our communities depending on how big your goals are!

            Whenever I get talking about this aspect of goal setting, I can’t help but think about the mountain climbing analogy, and that the easiest way to climb a mountain is simply step by step.

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            So, why is goal setting important? Goal setting gives you a list of manageable steps that you can take in order to take your life from where it is now to where you want it to go both effectively and efficiently.

            4. Goals Encourage You to Take Action

            This builds on the last benefit of goal setting. Not only does effective goal setting help you break down your larger goals into smaller, more manageable ones, but it also encourages you to actually begin taking action on those goals. After all, a plan is completely worthless if you aren’t willing to invest the effort required to execute it.

            Setting your goals and putting your plan in place motivates you to begin taking action towards achieving them. These goals give you something to plan and work towards. Essentially, they help propel you forward.

            What I like to do is write out and place my goals somewhere that I’ll regularly see them. This constantly serves as a reminder of my top priorities. It allows me to focus on taking small progressive actions towards achieving these goals daily.

            This ensures that I don’t fall into the trap of setting a goal, beginning to work towards it for a while, but then having my motivation fade resulting in me falling off track. This is exactly what many people see happen when it comes to their “New Year’s Resolutions.”

            If you want to learn about some of the golden rules for goal setting that will help you set and achieve your goals successfully check out this article: How to Use SMART Goal to Become Highly Successful in Life

            So, why is goal setting important? Because goal setting actually motivates you to stop thinking about your goals and actually get out there and achieve them!

            5. Goal Setting Helps You Continually Improve

            This is something that a lot of personal development and self-improvement writers talk about, continual improvement. For those of you who are not aware of the term, continual improvement is exactly what it sounds like — taking small steps towards improvement as frequently as you can to develop into the person you want to become.

            What’s the point in improving a little bit each day if you’re not improving in the areas that you want to improve in after all?

            The goals that you define for yourself will inevitably shape you into the person who you want to become. They’ll shape your character. Your goals can help you measure your progress as you strive for this type of development.

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            Essentially, having goals helps you determine where you started, where you are now, and how much further you need to go. In this manner, your goal setting can serve as milestones and benchmarks that help you determine how well you’re progressing towards your most important goals!

            So, why is goal setting important? Goal setting helps you make improvements each day that will slowly transition you into the person you want to become.

            6. Goal Setting Keeps You Accountable

            Not only does setting goals help you measure your progress, but it also is a means through which you can keep yourself accountable. Too many goals fail because they lack this crucial aspect of outlining accountability.

            For example, if I have the goal to do 50 push-ups, that’s great. Most people would support that goal. However, this goal lacks accountability. When do I want to accomplish this goal by and what steps do I take to get there? These are important questions that the original goal leaves unanswered.

            A much more descriptive and specific goal could be to do 50 push-ups within the next 3 months by starting at 5 push-ups, and then adding 5 each week. This goal outlines the deadline as well as the steps I’m going to take to achieve it. This plan will keep me accountable because if I fail to retain my progression schedule, I will know that I’m not going to achieve the goal on time.

            Additionally, it can serve as a marker helping to signify when something is impeding my progress that I may not have initially accounted for. This tells me that I need to re-evaluate what I’m doing and figure out what adjustments I can make to facilitate my success.

            So, why is goal setting important? Setting goals is key to keeping ourselves accountable and on-track towards accomplishing our goals according to the schedules and deadlines we set for ourselves.

            7. Goals Make You Feel Good

            Trust me, the progress you feel as you set and achieve goals can become super motivating and super addicting (in a good way)! The dopamine release you get from achieving your goals is like a little reward for our brains that continually motivates us to try and hit that next goal!

            Having some clearly defined goals will help you to feel better about yourself and your life in general, especially when you stick to those goals, actively work towards achieving them, and end up accomplishing and surpassing your initial expectations. I’m not the oldest book on the shelf myself, but I can attest that there are not many feelings quite like the one you experience when you truly get on a roll!

            Additionally, our goals give us an endpoint to shoot for. Rather than progress for progress’s sake, you can actually see where you’re heading! That’s so much more rewarding. Think about a long car trip as a kid. You ask “if you’re there yet?” ever 20 minutes. It seems like the drive drags on forever.

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            If you don’t know where you’re going, you risk the journey becoming tedious. It doesn’t tend to be much fun wandering around aimlessly. Goals make us feel good about where we’re directing ourselves.

            So, why is goal setting important? Because setting goals and accomplishing them plain and simply make us feel better about ourselves and our lives!

            8. Goals Help You Live Your Best Life

            I’ve talked a lot in this article about how goal setting helps us progress towards our top priorities and live the way we truly want to live. So I think it’s fit to end the article with this goal because, in the end, I feel it’s the most important one.

            Setting your goals and clearly defining what they mean to you will help you live a life that is tailored to your beliefs and values. Your life will become directed towards the things that you most want to achieve.

            Life is a tricky game and only in very rare circumstances are things handed to us on a silver platter. Often it takes a great degree of work, planning, and effortful execution of both.

            There is no point clinging on to things in your life if they don’t bring you happiness or help you accomplish something that, in some way, aligns with your goals.

            Simply put, setting goals helps us live a life that allows us to pursue the challenges and rewards that we truly want to achieve.

            So, why is goal setting important? Because our time is always limited, and setting clearly defined goals can help ensure that you make the most of your life and live to the fullest!

            Final Thoughts

            These are just a few of the benefits of goal setting that outline why it truly is so important. If you take a moment or two, I bet that you can even think of a few more benefits yourself that you could add to this list.

            If I could leave you with something, it would be this:

            Goal setting has the potential to take us to some amazing places in life because we all have talent and ambitions. To achieve your biggest dreams, you need to be willing to sit down and create a life design uniquely tailored to you that will help you achieve them!

            More Tips About Goals Setting

            Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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