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When You Aren’t Achieving What You Want in Your Artistic Career, What Do You Do?

You love being an artist. When you create, you feel at home in your own realm of imagination, fantasy, and storytelling. It feels meaningful and it feels right. At the same time, you don’t necessarily feel happy or fully satisfied with your career. You feel that your reality doesn’t quite match your dreams, and that’s a challenging place to be.

It’s hard to feel like you aren’t getting where you want to be in your career. You keep asking yourself why you’re so stuck. Did I make the wrong choice to be an artist? Did I overestimated my talent? Am I living in a fantasy world? How did I ever think this is possible? After all, everyone else says being successful in the arts field is like hitting the jackpot.

How do you bridge the gap between your dreams and reality?

Acknowledge That Creativity is Essential to Who You Are Only you get to decide if you are a true artist or not. If you find yourself deeply connected to something greater than yourself when you create, you are an artist. If you’re drawn to express your feelings, life experiences, hopes, or struggles through acts of creativity, you are an artist. If you feel alive when you make your art, you are an artist.

Being an artist doesn’t necessarily mean you always feel 100% connected to your art and your sense of creativity. It does mean, however, that you can readily enter a state of creative flow. You have the skills and the experience to set the stage for your own creativity to unfold. You know how to kindle your own inspiration and motivation so you can get back to the work of developing your art.

As a true artist, you have both the need and the ability to reconnect with your creative energy over and over again. That’s what keeps you alive. When you’re disconnected from your creative energy for any reason, you feel like you’re dying inside.

Simply said, it’s your responsibility to prevent anything or anyone from taking you away from your creative self.

That amazing creative energy inside you needs to be nurtured and expressed. If you put a lid on that energy, you end up repressing one of a vibrant aspects of your life force, and that can throw you into a cycle of feeling creatively blocked, stuck, or even anxious or depressed.

Acknowledging the artist within you doesn’t have anything to do with the career you choose. It’s just about you being connected with and manifesting a vibrant part of who you are - your creativity.

Practice Mindful Reality Checks It’s absolutely essential to look at the reality of your life and circumstances. You need to have a clear perspective on where you are in your career in relation to what you want to accomplish. However, looking at reality is a complex process - reality is subjective, deceptive, and multidimensional. You look at reality through the lenses of your own conflicts, fears, doubts, hopes, and dreams. Yes, reality is in the eye of the beholder.

You may feel that what you see is the ultimate reality, but you’re not fully aware of how your individual perspective colors what you see. Also, you have multiple realities playing in your mind simultaneously. And, to make things even more complicated, your different realities may be in conflict. For example, part of you may want to succeed, while another part of you is sabotaging your success.

Despite how complex and unreliable reality is, it’s still your ticket to emotional freedom. Emotional freedom is what enables you to actively create your artistic journey. Though reality may be deceiving, you still need to get grounded in a sense of reality. And, there isn’t a better place to start than within your own reality.

To get grounded in your own reality, you need to be in touch with your internal conflicts, fears, doubts, dreams, and hopes. When you’re fully in touch with what’s happening inside you, then you can begin to see how your own internal world affects your career.

Woking from your own grounded reality, you can start to shift out of feeling stuck and begin to create your authentic possibilities. You work with reality rather than against it. You can make informed decisions about how to apply your efforts, seek improvement, and how to use your resources toward reaching your goals and dreams.

Make Career Decisions From a Place of Realistic Power

Career success relies on making countless decisions. It really is a complex process. Ambivalence, conflicting wishes or needs, unconscious conflicts, and anxiety about the unknown can all creep in and interfere with your decisions.

To make a choice that creates movement in your career, you need to connect with the grounded sense of reality within you. You need to allow yourself to be vulnerable, getting in touch with your internal conflicts, fears, doubts, dreams, and hopes. This can be challenging, but your most powerful, positive decisions get made from this place of inner honesty and truth.

When you make decisions based on your passion for your art as well as your full spectrum of human strengths and vulnerabilities, you’re not motivated by fear. You’re motivated by healthy desires for connection and accomplishments. Your love for what you create and your love for the world you create for shows through.

Bring All the Pieces Together How can you stay connected to your creativity, ground yourself in reality, and make decision form your inner-strength despite all your fears, doubts, and messy feelings of shame, rejection, and desperation? Is that even possible? Is that even realistic?

It is realistic, and when you achieve what we call emotional freedom, you will be able to navigate through your fears, doubts, conflicts, and human limitations and into a place of satisfying, enduring accomplishments. Though you won’t be able to live with emotional freedom at all times, just as you won’t feel completely connected to your creativity at every moment, you don’t need to. You simply have to experience emotional freedom often enough to build momentum and see movement in your artistic life or career.

All of this means you need to do your emotional work. You can’t stay alone feeling stuck. Show up, speak up, and go ask for help. Find the right people to share with. Get support from the right community. Find the right friends. Find the right coach to help you move forward. Find the right therapist to dig in deep.

Find people who can see you, especially on the days when you can’t look in the mirror. They can help hold you during the difficult times. Even if they’re just keeping you with love and hope in their mind it’s very powerful. You need people who believe in you to keep you going in moments you cannot believe in yourself. Seek those who can push you forward when you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Who you are as an artist and what you achieve is a private experience, but you build your most creative life through the emotionally rich and powerful connections with others.


Mihaela Ivan Holtz is a psychotherapist working with creatives and performers in Los Angeles. She can be contacted via her website or Tel: 310-424-0292

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