Coaching for Creatives | Play Pretend


All of my coaching clients at one point or another express that they want to cultivate and attitude of confidence and fearlessness. My advice to them: Pretend as if you are a confident and fearless badass. 

Playing pretend might sound like “fake it ’til you make it” but it’s more like taking on the Method approach to acting. I only know what I know about Method acting from actors like Jared Leto who talk about never breaking character (even off set) when playing Oscar-worthy roles. Actors use Method tools and techniques to create authentic thoughts and feelings true to the role they’re playing. I think we can draw from the Method acting technique to harness the feelings we want to have in our creative work and life.

I most play pretend when I’m scared and trying something new – big or small. One of the first times I found playing pretend to be useful was when I was the lead art director on an NBA account. I knew nothing about basketball and I was a young designer. So I pretended as if I was a senior boy (my aesthetic was quite feminine at the time) designer at Nike working on a cool sporty campaign. And it worked. But sometimes I have to play pretend for the little things too. I mean, sometimes I have to play pretend that I’m the kind of person who doesn’t get anxiety when meeting a new friend over coffee.

Today I invite you to pretend.
Pretend as if you got enough sleep.
Pretend that talking money with clients doesn’t make you break out in hives.
Pretend like you’re the most badass designer / writer / photographer out there.
Pretend as if you’re the kind of person who always makes the healthy choice.
Pretend you’re Beyonce. Or even Mister Rogers.

Pretend as if … Because then you are.

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P.S. If you like this post you might like my DIY Coaching for Creatives Email Sessions. It’s 4 emails x 4 weeks (16 emails total) for just $40. Complete with worksheets, exercises, mantras, meditations, and to-dos for time management, decision-making, and strategies for living more of what you love – in work and life. You can learn more about what you’ll get and purchase anytime here.


Also, our Braid ECourse, Dream Customer Catching: Embrace Your Expertise and Attract What You Track is now open for registration and will be in-session March 21 – March 30. And Kathleen readers can take this course for $50 by using the discount code ANDKATHLEEN50 when you register.

  1. I have definitely started doing this more lately and, I agree, it really can work. I’ve been pretending that I’m so cool and confident that I’m not at all worried about being drafted onto the PTA board at my daughter’s school, that the slightly backwards comments some of the other moms have made are just rolling right over my head. It feels good to pretend, like I’m giving myself permission to really let that silly, nonsense stuff go.

    • I have a really hard time pretending to not care (like when I get negative feedback) but I could be better at pretending to let it go! Good call.

  2. andee

    I’m going to pretend I’m not tired and feeling run down. I seriously just tried it for a second it shifted my whole mental space!

    • YES! I’ve been pretending to have more energy – especially with the 24/7 needs of a newborn leaving me sleep deprived.

      I’ve also found being careful with the words you use when tired is helpful. For example, when I worked at an agency when asked “how are you?” the standard reply from everyone was always “tired”! So I decided then to stop saying I was tired because surely it reinforced the idea that I was lacking energy.

  3. Erin

    How funny to see a picture of my neighbor’s house on this blog. Wooo Austin! :)

    • Haha! That’s awesome! I chose this picture because I’d like to pretend this is my awesome hobbit house!

  4. This came at the right time. I’m getting pretty good at letting stuff go and all of the other stuff I’ve struggled with in recent years (everyone is entitled to freedom of speech, so what if it isn’t aligned with my opinion or needs) but the pretence of energy and not being tired is something I need today.

    Both kids seemed to relay the screaming in the night (the small one stops, the big one starts and vice versa) and I feel like I got less sleep than when they were newborns. Stack of making it happen to do today so theres no room to be lack lustre. I’m going to tell myself I slept like a baby (what a stupid saying that turned out to be – what, broken and sporadic?) or at least someone who had a great nights sleep and has a lot of force for getting sh*t done.

  5. Alien Mind Girl

    “I mean, sometimes I have to play pretend that I’m the kind of person who doesn’t get anxiety when meeting a new friend over coffee.” –> I never would have expected that of you, and I am relieved that I’m not the only one! I thought that sort of feeling was reserved only for extremely (fill in the blank with some sort of adjective that I should not be) people.


  6. Laura

    I’ve had three or four solid months of pretending things, only to watch them become real. WATCH OUT PEOPLE– It’s amazing advice!

  7. I am catching up on my blog reader and seriously, it’s like you are in my head! From this post, to the Paulo Coelho quotes, to the witching hour (Jack is two weeks behind Fox), I can relate to every one.

    This post reminded me of a TED talk I watched on Netflix during a two a.m. feeding. She talks about body language and faking it until you believe it.

  8. I pretend I’m James Bond in job interviews and client meetings—I draw on his confidence and assurance: no matter who plays him, he displays an enviable economy of words and movements; none are wasted.

    This enables me to pitch my voice low and authoritatively; forces me to speak calmly, slowly, and clearly; and prevents me from fidgeting, mumbling, or rambling.

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