So you want to be successful with your passionate work. It probably will not surprise you to learn that, in general, drive and determination, not great natural talent, lead to exceptional success. The old belief that “talent will surface” on its own is largely a myth. In the book Outliers, author Malcolm Gladwell says that it takes roughly ten thousand hours of practice to achieve mastery in a field. It’s a combination of hard work, commitment, grit and self-confidence that helps one persist to reach a level of high achievement.

When people who are passionate and high in need for achievement tackle a task, they do so with perseverance, passion and self-confidence. They tend to complete difficult tasks and they tend to excel in their occupations. When the going gets tough, the high achievers get going.

You may be able to improve your achievement and motivation by increasing your self-confidence. It is easier to perform an activity or reach a goal with perseverance and passion when you believe you can be successful, according to Coon & Mitterer, 2013. When you tackle an important task and to enhance self-confidence, you would be wise to do as many as these things as possible:

  • Set goals that are specific and challenging but attainable.
  • Visualize the steps you need to take to reach your goal.
  • Advance in small steps.
  • When you first acquire a skill, your goal should be to make progress in learning. Later, you can concentrate on improving your performance compared to other people.
  • Get expert instruction that helps you master the skill.
  • Find a skilled model (someone good at the skill) to emulate.
  • Get support and encouragement from an observer.
  • If you fail (getting feedback from your environment), regard it as a sign you need to try again, not that you lack ability.

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Using my path of studying art and oil painting in the studio, let me illustrate some of these points practically:

  • Set goals that are specific in terms of number of paintings, subject matter and scale (canvas sizes).
  • Visualize the steps you need to take to prepare the canvases, sketch the compositions, find reference books and materials, paint and critique your work.
  • Advance in small steps.
  • When you first take your art classes, do not judge your work; your goal should be to make progress in learning.
  • Periodically hire an artist who is a good teacher to critique your work, get feedback and instructions that help you master the skill.
  • Find a skilled artist to emulate who is contemporary, and also masters artists you are drawn to.
  • Get support and encouragement from your classmates or other corporate refuges-turned-painters.
  • If you get feedback from your environment that the painting was not as successful as desired, KEEP PAINTING. Regard it as a sign you need to try again, not that you lack ability. Research how many paintings the masters painted in their lifetime.

Self-confidence affects motivation by influencing the challenges you will undertake, the effort you will make and how long you will persist when things don’t go well. You will realize that self-confidence is worth cultivating.

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About The Author

Julie England

What began as a transition out of Corporate America turned into Julie’s aspiration of becoming a painter. She studied art in Dallas, TX and Santa Fe, NM, two major hubs of art and culture in the Southwest. Julie's sense of line, color and texture is enriched by the years spent traveling to Santa Fe, NM. During that decade, hundreds of hours were spent exploring works of other painters combined with many years of community service in local art museums. She developed a strong sense and direction for her own path as a painter. Julie lives in Dallas, TX with her husband. She is involved as a current or former board member with the Dallas Museum of Art, Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts Advisory Board and Dallas Arboretum in Dallas, TX and Georgia O'Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe, NM. Visit her website.