From Caution to Courage: Why Getting Older Can Cultivate Creative Bravery for Some

The gifts of time can bring greater trust in our unique gifts and a broader perspective.

From Caution to Courage: Why Getting Older Can Cultivate Creative Bravery for Some
Black and white image of a potter's clay-covered hands shaping a vessel on a spinning pottery wheel.
Photo by Quino Al on Unsplash

Many of us remember feeling invincible yet insecure in our youth.

As young creatives starting out, some of us played it safe, afraid to take risks or push boundaries in our work.

Research suggests that as we gain more experience in our craft over the years, a shift can happen for many: courage arises. With time often comes the wisdom to thoughtfully discern calculated creative risks from reckless ones. We may start to care a little less about what others think of us. And we can develop a desire to make a meaningful, lasting impact with our finite gifts.

While ageing necessitates more practical caution and conservatism in some areas of life, it also frequently unlocks new sources of boldness and bravery in creative work for many. In this post, I want to explore why getting older may help some creatives become more daring and free in their output, how life experience can compound creative bravery for many, and how we might embrace this stage of our careers as an opportunity to produce impactful, inspiring work.

We’ll look at why some creatives gain more courage as risk-takers with age, how our diverse life journeys can shape us into more resilient artists, and how to tap into the creative superpowers that time and experience tend to cultivate for many. When we can channel the bravery that often comes with maturity, the possibilities for meaningful work are endless.

Of course, each of our personal journeys is unique. If you feel you’ve become much bolder and more audacious in your work as you’ve gotten older, you’re definitely not alone. But our experiences vary significantly based on our distinct personalities, backgrounds, cultures, industries, and other contextual factors. There is no one universal path to finding courage. By embracing this diversity, we can all learn from and inspire each other.

"The gifts of time can bring greater trust in our unique gifts and a broader perspective."

Confidence May Grow with Time

As creatives spend years and decades honing their craft, research shows that many of us gain more confidence in our creative skills and abilities. When we were younger, some of us may have agonised over every choice, been obsessed with mistakes, and worried excessively about what others would think. But with the accumulated wisdom of years under our belts, we often learn to trust ourselves more.

Once you’ve successfully weathered hundreds of projects and countless critiques, as well as both creative triumphs and failures, you may find a deep assurance blossoming from within. The fickle opinions and judgements of others don’t rattle us nearly as much as they once did. We learn to hear critiques through the filter of self-knowledge rather than self-doubt.

This greater confidence and perspective that creatives often develop over time can be incredibly empowering. Some may start to worry less about taking creative risks because experience informs them that they’ll likely land on their feet, as they have before. Perfectionistic tendencies may fade, freeing one up to experiment more playfully. Failures and rejections often sting less because we know they’re a natural, temporary part of the boundless creative process.

So for many creatives, the gifts of time can bring greater trust in our unique gifts and a broader perspective to quiet our inner critics. We may gain the courage to create more freely and meaningfully, knowing that our most resonant work still lies ahead if we persevere.

The Individual Road of Risks in Careers

It’s tempting to assume that as we get older and more established in our creative careers, we will automatically gain more courage to take bolder risks with our work. But in truth, the path to courage is rarely so simple and straightforward.

While research shows that experience can provide many with greater confidence to take chances in their work—almost like an invisible safety net—there are still many other complex factors that shape how we each approach risk-taking.

"There are no easy one-size-fits-all answers. By embracing nuance, we make space for creatives to find courage in their own way."

For some creatives, an established career does seem to pave the way for more daring creative choices overall. Once one has a robust professional network, an extensive portfolio of work, and some financial stability, they may feel more equipped to take risks, knowing they have a substantial cushion to break their fall.

However, one's appetite and capacity for taking risks also depend on many unique factors, like personality type, formative life experiences, family background, culture, and more. Some experienced creatives may cherish the hard-won reputation and predictable success of their established path, choosing not to diverge dramatically off course in later years. Stability and playing it safe certainly have comforts too.

Furthermore, external factors such as changing industry dynamics, economic tides, social norms, and systemic barriers may significantly impact one’s willingness and ability to take risks at any stage of life. In creative fields that tend to celebrate bold innovation, seasoned professionals might feel continuously spurred to take chances. But in more cautious or traditional spaces that resist disruption, veterans may feel pressured to conform.

So the decision to take more creative risks likely involves weighing a combination of internal and external factors unique to each situation. There are no easy, one-size-fits-all answers. By embracing nuance, we make space for creatives to find courage in their own way.

Seeking Creative Legacy

When young, creatives often focus on short-term goals and validation. But over time, research suggests many creatives’ priorities shift. We may think more deeply about the lasting impact we want to make through our work.

"Seeking meaning can push us to create more bravely, shaking off limiting beliefs and outside resistance."

What do I want to contribute to the world? What positive mark does my industry or community leave? What message or meaning do I want my work to share? Seeking this meaning can push us to create more bravely, shaking off limiting beliefs and outside resistance. When you feel that pull to make a difference, it may be wise to let it guide you. The world needs your unique gifts.

Courage Can Grow Through Life’s Journey

As the decades pass, creatives experience major life events: new careers, relationships, children, and loss. Whether joyful or sorrowful, research finds that these pivotal moments may change us. They can help shape some into more resilient people.

Navigating life’s pivotal moments can build courage and confidence. With each challenge we face, we may learn we can adapt and even thrive. We prove our strength and ability to handle uncertainty.

While our core essence remains, we may emerge wiser and stronger, with the perspective to take risks and obstacles in stride. Life’s highs and lows remind us of what truly matters.

When you doubt yourself, remember the trials you’ve already survived. Let those experiences give you the courage to continue creating boldly. See them as proof you have resilience within.

Your winding path has shaped you. When inspiration strikes, trust yourself. Let life’s journey give you wings.


While caution comes with age, research also finds that ageing frequently unlocks creative boldness for many. Time can bring confidence, perspective, resilience, and the desire to leave a legacy.

Rather than play it safe, creatives have a unique opportunity to thoughtfully embrace our age and experience as superpowers. Now may be the time to challenge ourselves and do our most inspired work yet.

When we can channel the bravery that time cultivates, we may create without limits imposed by perfectionism or inner critics. By embracing nuance, we make space for creatives to find courage in their own way.

Challenge yourself to stay curious. Have faith in your vision and gifts for the adventure ahead. If age makes you feel braver, let your experience give you wings. We all have so much to learn from one another.