I was speaking with an artist earlier today and they said something really interesting which sparked a world of thoughts which I – admittedly – hadn’t really put much thought into before it was mentioned. They said “sometimes I fear someone actually saying yes to my pitch or the thought that someday millions of people may hear my music”.  They were still dead set on achieving these huge goals but rather – how would they cope when success comes their way? Introducing… the fear of success!

What is the Fear of Success?

In the competitive world of artistry, independent artists constantly strive for their big break. However, what happens when the long-awaited triumph finally arrives? Surprisingly, the fear of success can be just as daunting as the fear of failure.

Here, I will delve into the challenges independent artists may face when confronted with the anxiety of success and I will provide a few practical strategies to help anyone with this very fear to overcome it and thrive in their artistic journey.

Acknowledge and Understand Your Fear:

One of the main sources of fear is the fear of change. Success often brings about significant shifts in an artist’s life, both personally and professionally. The prospect of stepping into the unknown and leaving behind familiar routines can be really unsettling. Artists may worry about how their relationships, lifestyle, or creative process might be affected. However, understanding this fear and taking steps to prepare for these changes allows artists to anticipate and prepare for the adjustments that come with success.

Other fears may include an intensified expectation that the pressure to consistently deliver at a high level. Although this is likely true, the fear stems from not being able to meet or exceed the expectations of fans, critics, or industry professionals. Caveat this by creating from a place of authenticity rather than striving for external validation.

The pressure to maintain newfound success can be overwhelming – especially in this era of overnight viral moments and short lived trends. Artists may also worry about sustaining their achievements and the fear of being seen as a one-hit wonder. However, by identifying the sources of fear, such as the fear of change, increased expectations, and the pressure to maintain success, artists can develop strategies to navigate these challenges.

Reframe Your Perspective:

As opposed to viewing success as an overwhelming burden, reframe it as an opportunity for growth and self-discovery. Learn to embrace the idea that success is not a destination but a journey, and each milestone reached is a stepping stone towards further artistic development. By shifting your mindset, you can transform fear into motivation and enthusiasm.

A growth mindset is the belief that talents and abilities can be developed through dedication, hard work, and a willingness to learn. By embracing this mindset, artists can approach their fear of success with a sense of curiosity and a willingness to learn from their experiences. 

By embracing self-reflection and a growth mindset, you can navigate the fear of success with resilience and adaptability. You can continually improve your skills, expand your creative horizons, and effectively navigate the challenges and responsibilities that come with achieving your goals. 

We cover mindset preparation in the very early modules of TULU Academy – the right mindset is a cornerstone to any success story’s foundations. 

Surround Yourself with a Supportive Network

In my opinion, this is the most important piece of advice I can give on this subject. The unknown becomes ten times more manageable when you have your trusted team around you. Building a strong support system is vital! Seek out mentors, fellow artists, and industry professionals who can provide guidance, encouragement, and reassurance. Sharing your fears and triumphs with like-minded individuals can alleviate anxiety and create a sense of belonging in the artistic community.

Mentors can provide guidance, share their own experiences, and offer advice on how to handle the newfound success. Their wisdom and insight can help you navigate the ups and downs of the artistic journey.

Building relationships with fellow artists who are on a similar path creates a sense of camaraderie and understanding, as fellow artists are likely to empathise with the unique challenges you face. Share the highs and lows with people who get your situation.

Industry professionals – like TULU – have extensive knowledge of the industry and can offer insights into navigating the complexities of success. This can also open doors to new opportunities, exposure, and collaborations that may help propel your career forward.

Set Realistic Goals and Celebrate Milestones:

Fear of success often stems from the pressure to maintain and surpass achievements. Combat this anxiety by setting realistic goals that align with your artistic vision and personal growth. Break down larger objectives into manageable steps, and remember to celebrate each milestone along the way. By focusing on progress rather than perfection, you can mitigate the fear of not living up to expectations.

Begin by clarifying your artistic vision and long-term aspirations. What do you hope to achieve? How do you envision your artistic journey unfolding? Once you have a clear vision, break down your larger objectives into smaller, actionable steps. This approach allows you to focus on the immediate tasks at hand, making them more attainable and less overwhelming

Make your goals SMART! (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound) – We cover this in great detail in module 2 of TULU Academy. This approach not only mitigates the fear of not living up to expectations but also cultivates a healthier and more sustainable mindset towards success.

Cultivate Self-Compassion and Practice Self-Care

Amidst the pursuit of success, it’s so important for independent artists to prioritise self-care and cultivate self-compassion. In the creative process, setbacks and challenges are inevitable. Embrace a mindset that views setbacks as learning opportunities and stepping stones towards growth. By accepting the ups and downs of the artistic path, artists can cultivate self-compassion and reduce self-judgement.

Remind yourself that it’s okay to make mistakes and that you’re doing the best you can. Cultivating self-compassion allows artists to navigate the fear of success with a sense of self-acceptance and self-encouragement.

Make self-care a priority in your daily routine by practising mindfulness or meditation, exercising or engaging in physical activities that you enjoy, spending quality time with loved ones, pursuing hobbies unrelated to your art, or simply taking moments of quiet solitude to recharge.

By recognising setbacks as part of the creative process, adopting self-compassionate language, engaging in regular self-care activities, setting boundaries, seeking support, and prioritising stress management, artists can cultivate resilience, enhance their overall well-being, and thrive in their artistic endeavours.

Taking care of yourself is not selfish.

Embrace Failure as a Learning Opportunity:

Embracing failure as a learning opportunity is a transformative mindset that can greatly benefit independent artists in their pursuit of success. By shifting the perception of failure, artists can unlock their full potential and foster a mindset of growth and resilience. 

By embracing failure as a natural part of the creative process, artists can extract knowledge and use it to grow, refine their skills, and evolve as practitioners. Furthermore, resilience allows artists to bounce back from setbacks, and challenges with renewed determination and optimism. It enables them to persevere through difficulties and maintain their artistic integrity.

Embracing failure encourages artists to be authentic and true to themselves. When artists let go of the fear of failure, they are more likely to take risks, experiment with unconventional ideas, and create work that reflects their unique artistic voice.

By viewing failure as a stepping stone to success, artists can navigate the uncertainties of their creative journey with confidence, persistence, and a deep commitment to continuous improvement.

Final Thoughts on Navigating the Fear of Success

The fear of success is a common yet seldom discussed topic among independent artists. By acknowledging and addressing this anxiety, artists can take proactive steps towards overcoming their fears and embracing the success they yearn for. Remember, success is not just about external recognition but also about personal fulfilment and artistic growth. By reframing your perspective, cultivating a supportive network, setting realistic goals, practising self-care, and embracing failure, you can navigate the fear of success and embark on a fulfilling artistic journey.