I was recently having coffee with a friend when a former colleague of hers saw us and stopped to say hello. Amongst other small pleasantries she inquired if my friend was still “doing art.”

“Yes,” my friend said, she was.

“You know, I’d like to do something creative. Maybe when I retire.” She seemed sad when she said it.

When the former colleague walked away my friend and I looked at each other, and she said what we were both thinking: “She could die tomorrow.”

A successful artist, my friend made a living for decades selling her work – greeting cards, jewelry, prints and original paintings – until economic circumstance dictated otherwise. She now works full time in one of those jobs ideal for depiction in an independent film on office life, a joyless job which barely offers in a paycheck what it takes away in spirit. When she gets home from work, the real work begins. A manager in her year-end review complimented her high level of productivity. “He has no idea,” she told me.

She creates art because it’s what she can’t not do. Art is not something that can wait until retirement, and if she’s ever going to make her living solely from art again, it most certainly can’t wait until she’s a little more rested, or until after she’s had some time to wind down from the day.

Yes, everyone needs some downtime, and (much as I try to deny it) everyone needs sleep, but if you intend to create success for yourself outside of your paid work, don’t expect it to happen under ideal conditions. We know this, but often fail to act on it, using the rest we need to justify indulging in the ease we want.  Fulfillment demands persistence and willingness to be inconvenienced.