What’s stopping me?

This post is important for my development. Another turning point. Although the items are specific to me, I hope it might contain some interesting, or possibly even helpful ideas.

It was inspired by a post about limiting beliefs by Milly on her lovely ELW Essence blog. It got me thinking about parts of my life where I wasn’t 100% satisfied, and how I could apply what she said to them. This post is what I came up with.

Since starting to draw and paint in 2010, I have been increasingly consumed by the act of making art. Each drawing I do, each painting I attempt, increases my desire to produce art. However, it has become apparent to me that at my current trajectory I won’t be able to achieve the level that I’d like to in my lifetime. To achieve what I’d like, I should be prolific in my output, drawing and painting like a madman! I would only be fully satisfied with my attempts to explore my artist creativity if I’m able to maintain such a fervour throughout my life. Only then would I know for sure that at the end of my days I won’t look back on my life and wished I had tried harder. I’m not yet showing that determination and passion, so what’s stopping me?

To help me consider this question, I followed Milly’s suggestions about how to think about limiting beliefs.

The question

Why am I not reaching my full potential when it comes to exploring my artistic creativity?

Limiting beliefs

The first step was to consider what excuses I have when I considered the above question. These are beliefs I hold, that might be limiting how I consider the situation. I identified these:

  1. There is not enough time
  2. Art is seen as a luxury to do after “higher priority” tasks
  3. Making art – as a hobby – lacks the respect of working towards a professional career
  4. Making art is just something that I like to do


For each of the above beliefs, I then posed an opposite question – a challenge to the belief:

  1. How can I have all the time I want?
  2. How is art the most high priority of tasks that I’m responsible for?
  3. How is doing art worthy of professional respect?
  4. Why is making art a necessity to me? An essential?

Reactions and resolutions

The result of the above 2 steps provided an excellent breakdown to help me consider why I’m not reaching my full potential. Answering the challenge questions gave me fresh perspectives on the situation, and suggested ways to move forward to help me achieve what I desire. This is the result:

1. How can I have all the time I want?

This is a matter of making a concerted effort to follow efficiency advice to maximise the time I have each day – whether it be for art or for other tasks.

ACTION: Follow advice on improving efficiency, and act on it with vigour!

2. How is art the most high priority of tasks that I’m responsible for?

Completing tax forms, researching tiles to use in our new kitchen, sorting boxes in our loft – these glamorous tasks will always be viewed as having a higher priority than something that is just “fun”. But, what if these tasks no longer existed? What if they had all been done? With no other tasks to do, making art would be the de facto highest priority task!

Unfortunately, in my adult experience there have always been tasks to do, so it is hard to imagine a time where I get up on Saturday morning and there is nothing else that I’m meant to be doing. However… theoretically it is possible to get close to this. If I make a determined effort to clear absolutely everything from my task list – and to keep that list empty – then there’d only be art left! In theory.

ACTION: Clear all of my tasks – get to a zero-task state and stay there!

3. How is doing art worthy of professional respect?

Although I wouldn’t be aiming to replace my professional career in IT with one in art, if I were to have some professional achievements in this field outside my actual art work, the work I do might be seen in a different light, with greater respect.

ACTION: Research what professional achievements in art I could aim for, and set goals to achieve them.

4. Why is making art a necessity to me? An essential?

I feel guilty about spending time making art, especially when there are other things I have to do, but I really want to do it. To help eliminate that feeling of guilt, I must show to myself how necessary art now is in my life, and constantly remind myself of this.

ACTION: Keep a portfolio of items that I would like to explore further. I shall call this The Unfinished, and it will be hosted as a page on my blog. It will include a mixture of partially completed items, and finished works that I’d like to expand on. It might also include some source items that I’d like to paint. The Unfinished will be forever changing, according to how my interests develop. By looking at it regularly, I expect it will remind me of how much I want to do, and of how much I’ve enjoyed of the journey so far.


I am extremely pleased I took the time to consider this aspect of my life. It took a few tries at finding the set of limiting beliefs, and coming up with appropriate challenge questions. It would be superb if I’m able to achieve zero-tasks (item 2), with the help of item 1. I will probably leave item 3 for a while, as it isn’t so pressing, but I can’t wait to create my The Unfinished page, as described in item 4. I’ll do this before my birthday next Thursday – a great present to myself! Thank you so much Milly for your inspirational, and hopefully life-changing, post.



  1. Tim Hards Vicente

    I want to add that if I had considered this situation without considering my excuses in such depth, I’m sure I’d have settled on just the obvious: I’m too busy. However this exercise helped me uncover other hidden reasons for this state of affairs. For example, item 4 – I’m doing art because I just like it – is quite subtle. If I like doing art, surely that’ll help me fulfill my potential? It isn’t obvious that this might be holding me back. But the subtlety lies in my limiting belief that I’m doing it *just* because I like it, rather than it being essential to my life purpose. Now that I am aware of this, I can do something about it 🙂

  2. The Fashion Huntress

    Great post-! I love this!! Blogging, and I’m guessing art to a much greater extent, is very time consuming- but I think when it’s a labor of love and creative outlet, it’s so important to tell ourselves that it’s okay to take the time! So hard to do in real life though-

    • Tim Hards Vicente

      Thanks!! Yeah – as my wife knows very well, I’ve started many projects and motivational endeavors in the past, only for them to peter out pretty quickly after my initial enthusiasm. I’m hopeful that it will be different this time around with my public declaration, but also due to the high importance of it to me.

  3. alexcellent2012

    Great post Tim. I’m going to use this explore my limiting beliefs too. And I’m passing it on to my sister who I really think could benefit. Looking forward to seeing your new “unfinished work” section of your blog – what a great idea!

    • Tim Hards Vicente

      Thank you – I’m very pleased you’ve found it useful!!! Hopefully your sister can use it too, and Milly’s original post. I really think my new page will help motivate me and keep me inspired, reminding me of how much I want to do! There are so many avenues I’d like to explore, and it should serve a constant reminder so that I don’t rest on my laurels. It’ll also remind me of my highs – pictures that I’ve done in the past that I’m quite pleased with. Good luck with exploring your own limiting beliefs! I will look forward to reading about them on your blog!!! 😀

  4. Steve

    Very thoughtful post, Tim! Did you listen to Grayson Perry’s 2013 Reith Lectures? (Available on BBC iPlayer) Over the series he had a relevant discussion about the existential issues you raise of what is art and what is an artist. It also occurs to me that you are probably a bit hard on yourself! I think of the analogy with professional musicians, who probably spend more than 95% of their time with an instrument rehearsing, not ‘performing’.

    • Tim Hards Vicente

      Thanks Dad. Yes, the Reith lectures were interesting. (For anyone interested, here’s a link to the 4 recordings that should work in the UK at least: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00729d9/episodes/guide#b00sj965)

      Hmm, I might be being a little harsh on myself, but then perception is very important. If I don’t feel I’m doing all that I’m capable of, I’ll be less content than if I feel I’m making the most of the opportunity before me. So for that reason alone the issues I unearthed are useful, but I hope my actions will also make a tangible difference!

  5. ELW Essence

    Hi Tim, I must have read and re-read your post a million times and each time I found a new way to look at it and found new inspiration for myself. I’m so happy and honoured you’d consider my coaching path to help you thru your development, I couldn’t have written your post better myself. Your words are full of power, self-assessment, rethinking mode, reprocessing your dreams.
    That: I have no time, not enough money, art cant really give you a future like a career in IT might do might…… All those excuses….. we are trapped in our own beliefs that only limit our hearts and our heads.
    ‘Limiting beliefs’ can be applied on any aspect of our lives and is an ongoing process. I look forward to seeing all your goals and dreams come to life thru your words and your exceptional art!!!
    Thank you for sharing! Milly

    • Tim Hards Vicente

      Wow! Thank you so much Milly – you couldn’t have given me higher praise! I have been basking in the warm glow of your words. I am so pleased – and surprised! – that I have been able to give you some inspiration after you inspired me with this.

      As I mentioned to the Fashion Huntress above, I often start with good intentions, but fall down at the wayside after my initial enthusiasm passes. However, I am confident it’ll be different this time around as the end goal – to fully explore my life calling (I don’t think that’s too strong a term) – is too important for me to let slide. And you’ll be there to keep me true won’t you? 😉

  6. Gabriela LeBaron

    I love the fact that you are questioning yourself and your priorities! I want to comment on this: “Making art – as a hobby – lacks the respect of working towards a professional career”. Giving up the need for respect is one of the many sacrifices an artist has to do! It is essential. There is a long period in which you are an ugly duckling before you can truly fly. I think what gains the highest respect is after you have walked the distance and endured the ugly duckling phase for a long time, without trying to prove anything, and then coming out and saying–this is what I created– to the world. Even at that time, there will still be large numbers of people who could care less, and there will still be the big money makers who think you’re wasting your life. Their opinions must be irrelevant!

    • Tim Hards Vicente

      Thanks Gabriela, you speak wisdom. This point was actually the hardest one for me to express because it involves others for whom I care the most. The respect that I spoke of, but didn’t elaborate on, also included a sense of duty and responsibility to those people – hence my vagueness. If I didn’t have that responsibility, it would still be hard, but it would be easier to make the choices to become that ugly duckling following purely his own route.

      Unfortunately (but fortunately in many other respects!!) I don’t have the freedom to make that choice, although I described actions that might help me position myself better in this respect. I totally agree with your words however, and when it is required I hope I’ll have the strength to do the necessary in other parts of my life. As it is essential, as you say, I’m quietly confident that I’ll have the resolve to do that. Many many thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts, both here and in response to my comments on your blog: http://gabrielalebaron.wordpress.com/2014/03/07/winging-it/

      My best wishes, Tim

  7. Pingback: Going dormant | art fn

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s