Over the last week I have seen many blog posts from friends and colleagues alike looking back at 2010. Some look back mournfully on the fears and hardships that held them back and others excitedly about all the changes that have taken place in their lives. In regards to the future, some are looking forward to it with a plan and a drive to take action and meet the goals they are setting for themselves. Others simply hold on to a blind hope that 2011 will be a great year and their outlook, while complacent, is at least positive. Sadly, there are also those that let their past stand as evidence as to why they should not try as they move forward into the new year. They are the ones who always talk about the great project that they have an idea for, how talented they are, and how successful they could be if it weren’t for any number of outside forces that prevent them from achieving their goals. People this addicted to excuses and blame often spend more time looking for reasons not to work than they actually do practicing their craft. They do not realize at all that if they put the effort into reaching their goals that they do into blaming outside forces they would be further along on their personal path to success.
It’s not even a matter of positivity vs negativity in cases like this. Much more often it is a case of bullshit vs. action. Someone can talk all they want about success and talent and vision, they can read every blog and understand the theory and principles necessary to be successful, but all of that is futile if you are not willing to put in the effort to make it happen. I have been acquainted with musicians and artists like this all my life, talented people who seem to lack any sort of creative momentum. They are the ones bitter about the lack of creative success they have experienced in their life. When asked what the are working on at that moment, the common answer is “nothing” and when asked “why?” a litany of excuses begin to spew forth; “I am not inspired” “no one is interested in what I am doing” “my last project was a failure” “It is too hard” “I am talented enough that shouldn’t have to market myself” “I am an artist, not a business person” These people are taking the easier path, the one of least resistance, they bend and break under the pressure of internal resistance. They can choose to be stronger, as strong as iron, to walk headlong into a storm of resistance and come out on the other side having accomplished their goals.
There is a famous punk band from Canada named D.O.A. whose long-standing slogan is “Talk minus action equals zero” The band has been outspoken in their political beliefs and often contributes time and music to various social causes and benefits to not just talk about social change, but actively contribute to it. I have long thought that the notion of Talk – Action = 0 is a philosophical and practical tenet that all people can implement in their lives. Especially creatives who find themselves at points of transition in their life and career. It does not take a lot of effort to talk about creating your dream project or to pine endlessly away about the personal vision you dream of realizing, talk comes easy. What does take effort, time, blood, and sweat is to put your head down and put the work into making it happen. Positive outlook, creative vision, and natural talent are all wonderful traits that amount to absolutely nothing unless you are willing to actually take action, fight internal resistance, and build creative momentum. Stop worrying about what is holding you back, stop talking and start moving, stop waiting for something to happen and start making something happen.