If you think about what’s likely to happen, as you embark on the path to becoming an artist, versus what’s possible, it can produce very different motivations and outcomes.
The problem with what’s likely to happen is that it’s likely you won’t succeed as an artist. There are so many artists in the world and only a handful are making a living at it and succeeding by any measure of the word. Why should that be? Is it just possible that if we think it’s unlikely we’ll succeed, it makes it certain that we won’t? Isn’t it simply self-fulfilling? Henry Ford said, “If you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right!”
After all, if every artist thinks they are unlikely to succeed, then by what mechanism could they possibly find the motivation to ever be successful? They’re defeated before they start. Won’t there just be a lot of artists that starve because they think that’s likely to be what happens? And so there are.
Worse still, aren’t there legions of artists that never explore their artistic talents to the full, because they believe, fervently, that it’s vanishingly unlikely that they will succeed as artists? Instead, they stay in non artistic pursuits that appear to pay the bills, at the price of their souls. This, they think, is some sort of success, whereas trying to be an artist would have been a failure, no matter what their talent or application. Is it really a success and why are they so sure they would have failed?
How come there are artists that have undeniably succeeded, in their own terms? How did they do that? What was their belief system? What motivated them?
The other way to approach your artistic journey is that if you begin by thinking about what’s possible, that’s a goal. It’s a “big, hairy, audacious goal”, in fact. It gives you something to shoot for, something to aspire to and a purpose to your every artistic move. It’s strongly motivating.
What’s possible is that you will become one of the acclaimed artists, for your work and earn a jolly decent living into the bargain. It’s entirely possible and why shouldn’t it be you? What’s possible is that there will be millions of artists that achieve this level of success. If they want it, they could have it. What’s possible is that the world begins to change into a place where people are not paid to do routine, menial jobs, working overtime for free because of job insecurity, itself a result of some deep fracture in the economic system brought about by increasing automation and abundance, but instead spend most of their time pursuing their art full time and living comfortably anyway. It could happen if enough people want it to happen, believe it can happen and make it happen.
All of these things are possible, but in order for them to become likely, you have to believe in the possibilities and pursue them as if they were likely. Then they will be.