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Tips for Succeeding in Your Creative Career

Jonny Elwyn

As creatives we often have big dreams about what we want to achieve in life, but how do you actually make them happen?

If you’re are a creative with a big idea, dream or project that’s been sitting in the back of your mind for a while, this simple structure will help you to orientate your life towards making it happen. Obviously any post with a title like this one can sound like snake oil salesmanship, but the aim here is not to suggest a get rich quick scheme or a short cut to success but a valuable way to re-shape your thinking and your life towards getting what you really want.

To get a flavor for this type of thinking, check out filmmaker Ava DuVemay’s inspirational address at the recent Film Independent Forum. Thanks to Natalie from Mentorless for the great find.

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Image from Mentorless.com

How To Get What You Want In Life

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I think that this virtuous circle of action is a simple way to drive you towards what you want in life. It’s simple advice that has worked well for thousands of years but somehow it seems to have fallen by the wayside for a lot of younger people lately. In essence it works like this:

1. Take the resources you have – your time, money, talents and put them to work.

2. Do this in a disciplined and committed fashion. Apply yourself to the task at hand.

3. Putting what you have to work will move you into the arena of opportunity. Working towards what you want, you’ll be open to opportunities when they comes knocking or as you generate them.

4. Being in the place of opportunity and having already built up a good work ethic, you’ll be able to seize those opportunities that push you towards your goal.

5. This will create new resources (money, time, talents) that will be more fuel for the fire. Keep going.

How Not To Get What You Want In Life

The converse is also true. If you waste the resources you do have by being more focused on what you don’t have, or the gap between where you are and where you want to be, then you will fail to apply yourself in any disciplined way.

Hard work will seem just as it is: hard. So you languish where you are, not moving forward, not generating new opportunities or at least putting yourself in the place where you might be able to seize them. Gradually life presents diminishing returns on all your time, money and talents. The only important thing to remember is that it’s never too late to change your thinking.

Why WHAT You Want Is What Really Matters


Image from WaitBuyWhy.com

So the question that really arrives is – What do you want? And what are you going to do to achieve it? 

Which circle will you be rotating round? As Ava DuVemay puts it: “The only thing that’s going to move you forward is your work. That’s it.”  So the only thing to do is to work hard and enjoy it.

If you’re not convinced by a few squiggly diagrams on the importance of a health work ethic, realistic expectations then have a read of this excellent article from the Huffington Post titled “Why Generation Y Yuppies Are Unhappy”:

Paul Harvey, a University of New Hampshire professor and GYPSY expert, has researched this, finding that Gen Y has “unrealistic expectations and a strong resistance toward accepting negative feedback,” and “an inflated view of oneself.” He says that “a great source of frustration for people with a strong sense of entitlement is unmet expectations. They often feel entitled to a level of respect and rewards that aren’t in line with their actual ability and effort levels, and so they might not get the level of respect and rewards they are expecting.”