At this stage of my life, the one thing I know for sure is that there is no such thing as short cuts. No quick fixes. No magic pills. And certainly nothing that is ever really "free". The faster you accept this, the faster you can get to the real work of creating the fulfilling creative life you truly want.
Allow me to explain...
The thing is, you either spend time developing and mastering your craft or you don't. You either exercise and eat right to keep your body feeling good, or you don't. You either give your heart/time to nurturing relationships, so that you have people you get to share this life with, or you don't. You either do what's needed to ensure you have financial well-being or you don't. You either reach out for the support, and do the work of staying mentally healthy, or you don't. You either learn how to effectively market your skills and talents, or you don't. You either feed your soul nourishing and inspirational "food" or you don't.
It's so tempting to want the magic pill or to trick ourselves into thinking shortcuts are possible, because being in balance with all those things above can often feel so impossible and exhausting. We think, or hope really, that if we just had more time and money, fame and success, then we could work on those things. That from that place, things will surely be clearer. That suddenly you'll have the motivation. From that place, I'll be happy and more inclined. No you won't.
If you believe those things its because you haven't yet witnessed how hollow a victory can be when you know you didn't earn it. How scary "success" can be, when you're not really sure how you got there. How stifling wealth and fame can be, when society expects you to be wildly happy and have all the answers, and you know you still aren't and don't, not even close.
The reason there are no shortcuts is because the act of getting there, of not only fighting those internal battles, but learning how to excel at them and to actually enjoy them, quite literally is the key that opens the door to being truly connected to any version of success you might want to feel and experience. Without the work, there is no reward or award that will give you the feeling of satisfaction, connectedness, or accomplishment you're looking for. You are either connected and the cause of your success, or you aren't.
That doesn't mean it can't be "easy". It can. But "easy" has nothing to do with short cuts, "easy" has to do with a lack of resistance (and is a conversation for another time).
For now I leave with this: you will never regret spending time on your craft, your people or your mental, physical and spiritual health, but you may regret a life spent chasing a shortcut that never quite pans out.