The World Doesn’t Owe You a Living (and Why That’s Wonderful)

Brace yourself.

What I’m about to tell you might seem like a downer at first. But it really isn’t.

The message we’re going to explore is a key component to stepping into your competence as an Empowered Artist.

By far, most of the books and resources I’ve published over the decades are filled with positive messages to remind people like you of the creative potential we all have within us.

That’s by design, because I think most artists play small and sell themselves short.

But I also like to balance all of that encouragement with a healthy dose of practical, feet-on-the ground reality.

So here’s the sobering news …

The world doesn’t owe you a living.

Sorry, but it doesn’t. No matter how much time and effort you put into honing your craft and promoting your wares, there are no guarantees you’ll get the results you want.

  • Some artists will follow their dreams and get spectacular returns.
  • Some will experience mediocre or hit-and-miss outcomes.
  • Many will feel like they put forth a lot of effort, yet still don’t make much progress at all.

I’m not going to tell you that your day in the success spotlight is assured if you only work hard enough, dream big enough, or believe fervently enough that it can happen.

No one can accurately predict how your creative journey will unfold.

I’ll say it again: There are no guarantees.

And isn’t that a wonderful thing?

I can hear you now: “Why is that so wonderful?”

Because accepting that there are no guarantees makes you personally responsible for the mysterious dance of life and art. It forces you to pay attention and make choices that can improve your odds of getting the results you want.

When you take personal responsibility, you don’t rely only on the affirmations you recited this morning, the book you read yesterday, or the journal entries you wrote last night.

The same goes for the sales calls you made, the emails you sent, and the number of new people you met this week.

Just because you’ve checked certain items off of your to-do list doesn’t mean you have arrived at your ideal creative life.

You can do what you love for years on end, but that doesn’t mean the money (or the public recognition) will automatically follow.

This may sound depressing to some, but I find it invigorating. Embracing this reality means I get to face the creative challenge of figuring it out on my own.

  • I can enlist the support of my friends and creative peers.
  • I can be inspired by the success stories of other artists.
  • I can chart my own course and accept responsibility for whatever happens along the way — good, bad, and otherwise.

But many artists don’t look at it this way.

They complain about the state of their industry. They ask “Why me?” and “What do I have to do to get a break?”

They feel ignored and trampled upon. They look around every corner for more evidence to prove their sorry state of affairs, and they find plenty of it.

At the core, their sense of frustration comes from a belief that the world owes them something. They feel they deserve a particular status simply because they have a dream, or because they have put in the time, or because they want it bad enough.

Having this “Where’s my success?” mindset is not only depressing, it’s exhausting.

There’s a better way.

When you let go of your sense of personal entitlement, you stop playing the role of victim. If you can’t blame someone or something else for your woes, you must look within.

You must accept that YOU created your current circumstances.

And that’s a powerful realization!

If you created the situation you’re in now, you also have the power to change it.

You can make decisions and take actions that redirect your energies and improve the odds that you’ll end up in a different, more appealing place.

I’d love your thoughts on this!

  • Have you ever felt the world owes you a living?
  • Do you take personal responsibility for your current circumstances?
  • What will you do different moving forward?

Please leave a comment, give this article a clap or five :) and share it with someone who would benefit from reading it.

(This article was adapted from my book, The Empowered Artist: A Call to Action for Musicians, Writers, Visual Artists, and Anyone Who Wants to Make a Difference With Their Creativity.)

This is Day 23 of my 30-Day Blog Writing Challenge.

Photos used are by Alexander Krivitskiy via Pexels, and Bruce Mars and Frankie Cordoba via Unsplash.

Bob Baker helps musicians, authors, artists, and creative entrepreneurs use their talents and know-how to make a living and make a difference in the world!

Listen to his Creative Entrepreneur or Music Marketing podcasts.

Check out Bob’s books on Amazon and follow him on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram.

He also creates affirmation and guided meditation recordings on his YouTube channel, Spotify, iTunes, and other platforms.

My mission in life is to inspire & empower people through audio affirmations, guided meditations, books, podcasts, music, art, coaching, and improv comedy.