When it comes to such high-minded aspirations as becoming a writer, a painter, a performer, people rarely stop to ask themselves this simple question: “What’s in it for me?” It sounds like something you’d hear from a small-time crook, or maybe a dodgy antique dealer, haggling over the price of silverware of dubious origin. Not something you’d ask yourself when it comes to one of your most important goals.

What’s in it for me? Isn’t it obvious? Or is it merely obvious in the way that makes it easy to lose sight of the specifics?

Take a piece of paper and ask yourself about the specifics.

Is it fame? Fortune? Recognition? Status? There are no wrong answers. After all, this is you being honest with yourself. Come up with at least five reasons, then circle the ones that matter the most.

I wrote down nine in total, but circled only these three:

The status of being a recognized intellectual.

Making a living from my skills as a creative.

Having a positive influence on people through art, the kind of influence I have on those who know me in person.

Yours don’t have to go on a blog (though maybe they should?). So cut through all the excuses and self-delusion, and find the real story that you tell yourself.

And, now that you know what’s in it for you, should you still do the things you do in pursuit of the apparent goal, or is there a better path that leads where you want to go?

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