Embarking on a creative career is often driven by a passion for self-expression, a deep-seated desire to share your unique vision with the world, and the hope for recognition and success. However, the reality of a creative career can be a winding path filled with highs and lows. It’s not uncommon to encounter disappointment when your creative aspirations don’t unfold as expected. In this article, we’ll explore how to manage disappointment in your creative journey, especially when you’re facing challenges related to aging, feeling like you’ve missed opportunities, and changing your expectations.


Am I Too Old?

As you journey through your creative career, you may reach a point where you start to question whether age is a limiting factor. Whether you’re in your thirties or beyond, it’s common to wonder if you’re too old to pursue a particular role, dance, sing, or compete in a field where youth seems to dominate. It’s essential to remember that creativity knows no arbitrary age limits. I’m reminded that many renowned artists and creators have found success at various stages of life. Bryce Cortney for example found his success at fifty two when he wrote The Power of One and Vera Wang who didn’t enter the world of fashion design until her 40s. She has since become a renowned designer, particularly famous for her bridal gowns. So don’t let the fear of age hold you back or make you feel that your creative window has closed.

I like to think of age as an asset. Your life experiences, wisdom, and the unique perspective that come with age can enrich your work with depth and richness.

“Your creativity is a dynamic force that evolves with you, drawing from your life experiences. Instead of seeing your age as a hindrance, what would it be like if you embraced it as a valuable and integral part of your creative journey?”

I coached a gorgeous singer songwriter a few years back and she was convinced that at 32 she would never be able to bring her music to a modern audience. Today she has recorded a number of original compositions, had her music played on radio stations, listed on streaming services, performed in numerous concerts and toured Australia with her band.


Overcoming the Fear of Missing the Boat

It’s common to feel like you’ve missed opportunities, especially in today’s fast-paced world where trends and platforms can change overnight. The fear of missing the boat can be paralysing, but it’s important to shift your perspective and stay grounded and focussed.

It’s good to remember that there’s no one-size-fits-all timeline for success in the creative field. The path to success is unique for each individual. Instead of fixating on what you missed, I suggest you focus on what you can do now. Creativity is boundless, and new opportunities can arise at any moment.

The key is to be able to adapt. Staying open to learning new skills, exploring different mediums, and embracing emerging technologies. will help keep you motivated, and will fuel your creative expression. This flexibility can help you stay relevant and discover new avenues for your creativity.


Reinventing Yourself for Creative Outlets

When disappointment looms, it’s crucial to find ways to reignite your creative spirit. One powerful approach is to reinvent yourself and explore new creative outlets.

During the pandemic a number of my clients and friends found the need to do exactly that simply to survive and to feed their need to be creative. A close friend fund herself learning new technologies in order to facilitate her singing and personal development workshops. This would have been very unlikely if she wasn’t forced into stay at home orders.

Trying your hand at different forms of art or exploring related creative fields. may unlock incredible opportunities to express your creativity.


Adjusting Your Expectations

Disappointment in your creative career often stems from unmet expectations. While ambition is a driving force, it’s crucial to strike a balance between ambition and realism. Reevaluate your expectations and redefine what success means to you.

Instead of fixating solely on external markers of success like fame or fortune, focus on the intrinsic rewards of creativity. Celebrate the joy of the creative process itself, the connections you make with your audience, and the personal growth that accompanies artistic expression.

Shifting your expectations to align with these more intrinsic aspects of creativity can help shield you from the sting of disappointment. Remember that your creative journey is a marathon, not a sprint, and there’s value in every step along the way.


Managing the Loss, Grief and Big Emotions

Navigating disappointment in your creative career can be emotionally challenging, especially when you experience the feelings of loss and grief that accompanies unfulfilled aspirations. In times like these, seeking support and guidance can be a crucial step toward healing and reconnecting with your creative soul.

I’ve worked with creatives in all stages of their creative evolution and I understand the myriad of emotions that rise up when dreams are unrealised.

“Sometimes hope is overshadowed by disappointment. But you don’t have to stay in that dark place.”

It’s entirely normal to seek assistance when facing the challenges of disappointment in your creative life. Don’t hesitate to reach out. You don’t have to navigate this journey alone, and there’s no shame in seeking help to reignite your creative spirit.

If you would like to know more about how coaching can support you, please contact me. I’d love to help. We would start with helping you return to your creative soul, manage the big emotions, and begin to build a new vision so you can find a fulfilling, creative way forward.


Your artistic path is a lifelong adventure, and it’s never too late to create something extraordinary.



Monica O’Brien is a professionally trained and accredited Coach and founder of Creative Edge Coaching www.creativeedgecoaching.com.au. She blogs on issues about creativity and small business development for conscious artists and business entrepreneurs. 


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