Growth is uncomfortable - and the ever present Imposter Syndrome

This time last year I released my self-published book,  ‘Why Not Me? A Lifelong Journey of 1%’ers & Becoming A World Champion.’
It is cliche but oh so true, where did that time go?
2022 was spent finding a different side of me that always existed but that I didn’t give the time to - yet.

Jess Douglas book

As I type this blog post, my mind is racing ahead of my fingers, trying to conjure up all these meaningful words that promise the reader not only an insight into my journey but also to help free up expectations of perfection or what it means to be talented or promising at something or achieve success.

Let me try and slow down and instead share with you how the year went but why it really has been the same as my lifelong journey, in fact, precisely the same, though my bike didn't require as much cleaning and I bought more running shoes over new tyres.

Since retiring from 24hr mountain biking, I had felt truly challenged on how to fill the void, trying my hand at many other related endurance activities, bike packing, ironman triathlon, ultra trail running, adventure racing and open water swimming just to name a few. 
These pursuits were all super fun and gave me lots of fuel and purpose to train for but they didn’t fulfil me in the same way as 24hr racing, I rode my bike back then because it was my life, it was my breath and my food, it gave me peace, yet brought me a sense of belonging and self-worth and ultimately provided me with an income too in a roundabout way.

I always knew back then, that I was a self-made creative, I was just using different tools and mediums to build my masterpieces.

If you know me, or have read my book and or blog posts from many years ago, you would know that there was a day back in February 2006 when it was so damn obvious what I would do from here on in.  That I chose to follow the path to becoming an elite mountain biker and conjured up a fail-proof plan, my 1% Rule. 
All I had to do was initially, ride once a week, for one hour, and improve one element of my riding by 1%, and over the next year, my efforts and results would compound due to the process I had in place and with consistent persistent effort, I would be a better cyclist than I was today - I could not fail.  It was a plan that got me out of bed most mornings to do what I had to do and yep, the snowball effect was felt in all aspects of my life, my mindset changed, and my entire outlook on life began to improve. 
Though of course I still fought off the Imposter Syndrome, in most cases, on a daily basis, as time went on, I was able to develop what I referred to as my backpack of experiences. I could draw on them at any moment and bring them out as proof that I could manage the tasks ahead or that I was worthy of being on a start line of a race for example.

Fast forward to 2010, that same imposter syndrome visited me at the start line of the 24hr World Championships, telling me that I was nothing compared to the competition and what was I dreaming of fighting for the title. This thought appeared so quickly in my mind I almost forgot to refute the validity of it, and that’s where I came up with the title of my book, “Why Not Me?”, I said, “I have done the work, I have the proof that I can be up there on the podium, all I have to do is follow my processes and the result will come.”  Instantly I knew I could win, wanted to win, had what it took to win and fought for it when the time was right, but all I had to do for the next 24 hours was to believe and execute my plan.

The next day, 24 hours later, I was the world champion and it was the best feeling ever.  I was so proud of myself and now I knew I held the blueprint for achieving anything I wanted to.

And here we are, 2023, and I finally began studying Visual Arts again in 2022, after starting in 1992, but abandoning due to life circumstances with Norm as we moved to the Gold Coast from Sydney.




The whole year, my brain hurt as I learned ‘how’ to do things and altered my mindset on what art and creativity are. What does it mean to me, to others and to the community? Many times I wanted to give up and do something easier, like follow a normal job and earn some reliable income but I drew on everything I knew that worked for me as a cyclist, all the 1%’ers and all the processes.  

  1. Do today what others won’t so you can do tomorrow what others can’t.
  2. The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The next best time is now.
  3. 1%, small consistent efforts daily.  Focus on these, not the end result.
  4. Embrace the Process and you will get the end result.
  5. Be open to failure, it is just another learning experience.
  6. Why not me? Why can’t I make it as an artist, a creative? 
  7. Just don’t give up.  Stay there until the end and see what happens.
  8. You may not be the best, however, you can ALWAYS GIVE YOUR BEST.

...and so on, and so on. Every single day I worked on my internal dialogue, it was the only way.  I looked to other artists past and present, to understand their journey and gain inspiration, if they could do it, then so could I.

tea with will

the pioneer fredmccubbin


And so a year passed, and I completed all my tasks, some better than others, some just ticking boxes, but I always made sure I pushed myself to grow and embrace new learnings.  If I was to do as I had always done that would be too comfortable.  In a year's time, all the 1%’ers would mean that I would have improved and the end result would give me the confidence to move forward into a new unknown, and right now as I type this, I still don't really know what “Jess the Creative” actually means, but I am going with it!

my studio





artwork jess

So here we are, by no force or will, it is January 2023. This time last year I put my book out into the world, and this year, I am another year into the creative journey as I push myself to create art that gives me joy.
It’s so exciting to know that I (we) can adapt and grow with any challenge that comes my (our) way, it's scary and uncomfortable but also gives me butterflies at the same time.

Here’s to 2023, I hope you find a new level of uncomfortableness to grow and stretch yourself to who you really want to be in this life.

Why not you? 

You can buy my book and my artwork at: