When you’re an artist or a creator of any kind, there is no defined path to success. We are in it for the long haul, and there’s not usually an end in sight until we arrive. It’s not like becoming a doctor or a lawyer, a teacher or a real estate agent. Sure, there are classes and degree programs for artists, but the ultimate deciding factor for achieving success is grit. You gotta dig your heels in and never look back, never give up, never give in. This is why it’s critical to have stamina as an artist or creator.
A person can only “dig her heels in” for so long before exhaustion starts to take over. Generally, there are no true “overnight” success stories, and we never really know when our break is coming. It could be tomorrow, it could be in 10 years. Really, the path to artistic success is different for everyone. So what’s the trick to sticking with it over a course of months, years, or even decades? How can a person have stamina for that long? Simple. Really, really simple. In fact, you’ll enjoy this part…
It is REST that will enable you to have stamina as an artist
To have grit, you need to have stamina. And in order to have stamina, you need to have rest. Remember, it’s a marathon, not a sprint (I thought a cheesy metaphor would be perfect here, while my brain is, you know, resting).
But seriously, professional marathoners do not run continuously. That would be impossible. They run about two or three races per year, with training and rest in between. And even throughout the race, there are rest stops and water stations.
As creators, we go through the process of: conception, preparation, creation, and then (deep breath, swallow hard) showing other humans our work, revising, showing more humans, revising again until we can’t see straight, displaying, self-promoting…until success? A big break? Maybe, maybe not. In any case, you’ll start the whole process over again with your next project.
It’s a long uphill climb. And there is no chance you’ll make it without rest.
I rest daily through meditation, and maybe a walk or an occasional episode of the latest TV show. But resting any longer than that is a challenge for me. I have to force myself to do it. Rest and relaxation are highly undervalued in our constantly-on-the-go society. It can be hard to give ourselves a break, to cut ourselves some slack and just BE—without stress or anxiety, and without thinking about all the things we need to get done.
Start making rest a part of your artistry
It’s important to think of rest as part of the work. Resting refuels us and enables us to carry on, to keep hustling. And it also nourishes the imagination—a fundamental part of the creative process.
An article on Success.com reveals the 10 things successful people never do. And the 10th one was my favorite. The 10th one was, successful people never forget that their inner life determines their outer success. Allowing ourselves time to rest is a huge part of having a healthy inner life. It allows us to decompress and keep our eyes on the bigger picture, rather than getting bogged down by trivial stressors day to day.
Similar to crash dieting, extreme restriction doesn’t work. Extremes don’t work, period. They’re draining. You have to change your lifestyle and make progress in small steps in order to be effective. Going, going, going all the time will soon leave you burnt out and giving up altogether.
So whether it’s a daily meditation practice, a weekly quiet night with your favorite book or movie, a monthly massage, or a twice-yearly vacation, find rest. It will help you recharge, and get back to work with a fire under your ass.