At age seven, I was sure there was something living under my bed. Some nights I was certain I could hear the shallow breathing of the beast just waiting for me to dangle a leg or arm out. I’d tighten the covers, tuck in my feet and sleep in a blanket cocoon.
Miraculously, the next morning, the beast was gone. I’d laugh that I’d escaped another night’s terror and live without fear until the sun started to set and my mom told me it was bedtime.
As an artist, you’ve consistently faced fear, and in many cases, it’s far, far worse than that seven-year old, boogey-man fear. It’s the fear of rejection. The fear that your art is going nowhere. The fear that you’re wasting your time.
You should, at this point, be familiar with fear.
Yet, over the last few weeks, all I’ve heard from people is the language of fear. Fear that the market will collapse. Fear that countries in Europe might default. Fear that Congress won’t figure out how to compromise on a debt deal.
This fear caused the market to flail like a runaway train crossing the mountains. One day the market skyrockets and the next day it plummets. Jokes about investing in alcohol and burying money in the back yard are all over Facebook and Twitter.
For an artist, confronting fear is a daily job. It’s the same with investing. Sure, some days are more fear-worthy than others, but success in investing is won the same way that success is won with your craft: by ignoring the noise and focusing on your goal.
I know you’re probably familiar with these five points to fighting fear, but sometimes it’s good to hear old wisdom again. It’s a little like a mother coming in with a story to console you when the monster under the bed becomes too real. Here’s some chicken soup for volatile markets:
- Focus on what you can control. I couldn’t control the boogey-man under my bed, but I could control where my legs were. By paying down your own debt and setting up clean, reliable financial controls, you’re putting yourself in the best place possible if things go poorly in the economy.
- Act directly opposite your fear. Explore under the bed to see if the beast is really there. Often, there’s nothing. When you hear that people are selling, it’s historically always been a good time to buy. During the 1920s, things were horrible. If you’d purchased stocks during this panic, you would have been rich quickly. After the 2008 crisis there was a similar panic. Had you purchased then, you’d be in great shape today.
- When things seem easy, look for problems. Leading up to 2000, everyone was talking about internet stocks. Ouch. If you bought internet stocks during that time, you would have lost a fortune. Before 2008 the secret money-maker was real estate. Look again now.
- Where there’s lemons, make lemonade. There is so much discouragement and negativity in the atmosphere that it’s easier than ever to pick up opportunities that others are ignoring while they panic.
which brings up the last point:
- Panic is never a good solution. Nike had a great tag line in their advertisements a few years ago. “Feel the fear and do it anyway.” It’s okay to be afraid, but if you let the fear stop your progress, what will you ever achieve? You’ve come this far by swimming against the current. Don’t lose sight of your goal because of current events.
I have faith that the future will be great if you can focus on the above five points. Seize this opportunity to work differently than the panicked people around you. Not only will your art improve, but so will your financial bottom line.