It’s common these days for people to have hyphenated titles, as we’re no longer limited to developing ourselves only in one area.
Actors are also humans rights activists, singers are also painters, and chefs are also writers, and so on…
Even I have been introducing myself as a visual-artist-and-voice-coach for the past year.
Compared to just twenty years ago, we now have greater access to explore more of our interests, to find unique ways of combining them and create something unique to each of us.
However, when we hyphenate our titles, we might want to ask ourselves: are these roles we’ve taken up related to our dream? Are they truly what matters to us, and what we want to be known for?
Or are they something “nice to have” — perhaps even a by-product of FOMO mentality that we need them in order to be perceived as successful? (FOMO = Fear Of Missing Out)
And if it is the latter, oftentimes they may become the very reason why we believe we don’t have the time, energy and space for the former.
Our biggest dreams and what we truly desire to create in our lives are oftentimes the most challenging pursuit. And sometimes we might end up using “too busy” as a way to justify why we haven’t taken action on those dreams.
Recently, I came to the realisation that once again I’ve been running away from fully embracing my role as an artist.
While it looks on social media that I’ve been drawing and producing new works-in-progress, I haven’t actually fully devoted myself to an artistic practice, which entails consistent studio hours and putting myself and my work out there.
I had made some progress with my international mural project “100 Dream Trees” in 2019, which has been paused due to the Covid-19 pandemic; thus, as an artist, I’ve been feeling a little lost and inadequate.
In the midst of this I realised I still want to exhibit my work, and to create experiences through art for people to connect with something deeper and truer within themselves.
But instead of focusing on what I really want to create as an artist, I started exploring other ways of helping others, such as through voice coaching, and considering becoming a creative coach like Eric Maisel.
Then with the completion of my stop-motion animation earlier this year, I’ve spent the past few months submitting it for film festivals.
Then I also started two weekly vlog series on YouTube, which I’ve maintained consistently for the past three months.
So while I’m “busy” coaching people on their voice and expression, sending my film to festivals, recording and editing vlogs, and updating Instagram more regularly… I’d have to ask myself: are these tasks really what my artist dream is about?
Or are they simply a way for me to keep “busy” — busy enough to have a convenient reason not to devote more of myself to my work as an artist?
I’ve started to see that this busyness is a cop-out, because I’ve unconsciously told myself that me as “just an artist” isn’t “enough” to make a worthwhile difference in the world, thus I have to add other roles and hyphenate my title… and call myself Visual Artist – Voice Coach – Creative Coach – Vlogger – Animator…
In other words, it’s my own sense of inadequacy and feelings of unworthiness as a person which makes me need to take on more roles and responsibilities, plus my fears that as “just an artist”, I will never be “good enough”.
Take a look at your dream, and the titles you’ve given yourself.
Ask yourself honestly — are these roles and responsibilities really what matters to you? Are they related to your dream?
And while it’s great to have back-up plans in life, e.g. a day job to pay the bills, learning new skills that are more practical… part of conscious and intentional living is to also examine: Are these a direct contribution to fulfilling my dream?
Or are they really just an excuse to keep myself busy enough so I can justifying not fully pursuing what matters to me?
I’m not saying to quit your day job and other roles right away… but it’s more like: are you letting your other commitments hold you back from fully investing yourself in what truly matters to you?
And it’s not only in your professional title, but even in your hobbies, interests and volunteer activities — any commitments you’ve taken up in your life.
Sometimes, our extracurricular activities keep us so “busy” that they also become an excuse for not having time for our dreams.
I actively participate in a personal development and coaching community in Singapore, where I’ve taken up leadership and other roles as a way to further my own growth and evolution, and support others’ as well.
But recently I’ve realised that I tend to get more involved in this community also as an excuse to not put in the time, energy and effort to create work that resonates with me, to develop my artistic skills, or allow myself the time and space to get in tune with what truly needs to be expressed through my art.
So I hope you take some time today to reflect on your various roles and commitments, to get a reality check on which ones truly matter to you and your dream, as opposed to the ones you’ve taken up because they are “good to have”, so that you stay “busy”.
It may also help to think in terms of: If you only had a year left to live, what’s the one thing you will get started on immediately, such that when you look back at the end of your life, you can say it was truly well-lived?
Your answer may not seem like the most practical route to take, but if it’s something that matters to you now, then I encourage you to invest the time and energy into that area, and ensure it is just as important as your other commitments.
At the end of the day it’s about prioritising what truly matters the most to you, and taking steps — no matter how small — to manifest your dream starting right here, right now.
After all, since our time here is limited, shouldn’t we invest it in what truly matters?