“It’s something that I always said I was going to do, but I just procrastinated – it was super easy to just talk about it like it was going to happen some time in the future.”
How many of us have let our dreams flap in the breeze for years or even decades by following the above process on repeat?
In 1997, Chris Willdig was a newly-minted comic book nerd living in Sutton, Ontario and dreaming that one day his illustrations would bring the likes of Batman, Superman and The Avengers to life on the pages of Marvel Comics’ much-loved publications. “For over twenty years, comic books and nerd culture have been my religion,” says Willdig. “All the way through school art class, when I was supposed to be taking life drawing, or learning about Monet, I was just drawing Spider-man and The Hulk over and over again, working on my technique.”
Hulk sketch card. 😬 #marvel #marvelcinematicuniverse #hulk #theincrediblehulk #markruffalo #theavengers #avengersageofultron #marvelcomics #sketch #sketchcard #sketchcards #sketchcardartist #upperdeck #fleerultra #sketchbook #sketchoftheday #drawing #artist #comicartist #comicart #pencilsketch #hulksmash #comicbooks
Like so many people’s dreams, Chris always believed his was too impractical to ever become reality and after completing high school, he went off to college to become a professional graphic designer and never seemed to find the space to pursue his passion. “Figure in a wife and two kids and the time just flies by,” he adds.
All that changed a few years ago when he started receiving mentorship from a colleague at his job, where he is employed as an art director. “In my performance reviews, it kept coming up that I had this passion to pursue and I kept getting this challenge back: So what are you doing about it?”
Six months ago, he finally made the decision: it was go time. Fast-forward to today, and he is engaged with a company to create a limited-edition set of collectible cards for Marvel Comics.
Only six months to achieve his life-long goal after twenty years of dreaming, frustration and procrastination? How the heck did he do that?
Identify the Goal
Here’s a step that a lot of folks miss. They have a generalized idea of some idyllic or better future, but have no clue exactly what that would look like in action.
“I want to live on an island,” or “I want to be wealthy,” or “I just want to be super healthy,” they might say. But what the heck do those things look like as fully-realized goals? Where is that island? How do you know when you’re wealthy? And, what the heck is “healthy?” Chris actually got to this step very early on and knew for many years that his goal was to illustrate for Marvel in some capacity.
Roll It Out Ugly If You Have To
Chris had this step nailed, too. Ever heard the expression, “Every winner was once a beginner”? Many people assume that they can’t achieve goals simply because they’re not born with a natural talent that makes them “insta-good” at whatever the thing is or because they lack knowledge. The thing is though, knowledge is everywhere for the taking and skills come with practice; Chris put in the time over many years.
The key here is just to get moving and refine as you go. You know – progress. As author Mark Manson says in his bestseller, The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck, A Counterintuitive Approach To Leading A Good Life, “Action isn’t just the effect of motivation – it’s the cause of it.”
Colored this Silk sketch card on my first Live session on Instagram tonight. Thanks to everyone to checked in, commented and asked questions! #silk #cindymoon #marvelcomics #sketchcards #sketchcard #sketchcardartist #upperdeck #fleerultra #upperdeckcards #spiderman #spidey #amazingspiderman #artist #drawing #sketchbook #sketchbooks #comicart #comicartist #pencilsketch #comicart #comicartist #marvelart #comicbooks #spiderverse #edgeofspiderverse #spidermanhomecoming #spidermanfan
This may be the most important lesson of the bunch because it is so applicable to just about any goal one could have in life.
Everything we humans want tends to come at some cost, and usually that cost is a simple matter of how much time we are willing to spend on getting what we want. Time is our only truly non-renewable resource and if you want to get serious about achieving a goal, you need to have a hard look at your resource allocation.
“Once I decided I was going to do this for real, I had to make some new choices,” says Willdig. “At night, once my family went to sleep, instead of watching TV or movies or even reading comics, I would sit down and spend some time drawing. I made a little dedicated Instagram feed just for my nerdy endeavors, where I could share and collect feedback from people who were into this stuff, and that’s how I ended up meeting the guys from Upper Deck.”
Upper Deck, incidentally, is the company who produces the collectible cards for Marvel and once Chris was in contact with them, he heard back the same day: “Would you be interested in contributing to a limited run of Spider-man collectible cards?”
“Ummm…yeah, I believe I could work that in.”
You Can Do It
Chris wraps it up: “I would just say to people that no matter what your goal is, you can do it. You just need to know what you want and really take the time to go after it. I really wish that, at 32 years old, I’d have figured this out sooner.”