I remember 8 years ago when I told my parents I was going to pursue a career as a wedding photographer. Oh you guys, I had no idea what that even meant – other than I wanted to take beautiful images of couples on their wedding days. This was before Instagram. Before Pinterest. Even before Facebook had really taken off.
I was 20. I had just quit working at a leadership program at our church in July, and it was August. I had a choice to make – what was I going to do with this dream?
I remember writing a list of things that I needed to do between August & December so that in January I could pursue photography. The first goal – get a business license. Second goal – buy an extra camera battery. At $70/each this seemed like an investment for someone who was between jobs. Other items included website, additional camera lens, and editing software.
Everything on the list seemed like a mountain that had to be climbed. It was the first time I had done any of this. I had no idea how to design a website. I had no idea which lens would suit my needs the best. I had no idea where to start. It was overwhelming to say the least. Google became my best friend.
Every book that a photographer recommended on their blog? I purchased a used copy on Amazon. The top photography textbooks on every College Photography Course Website? Used Copies Purchased. I read them every day.
The first 2 years? I took more photos of my best friends. Bowls of Top Ramen. My Parents Dog. The shoes I wore to prom. My mom’s wedding ring. My friends’ cute children. Anything and everything that would help me learn how to use my camera better.
The first session I was paid for was for a family. A mom & her 3 sons. I had no idea how to deliver photos other than mailing a CD. I wanted to make sure she was happy with the images – so I met her for coffee and showed her a slideshow on my laptop that I created the night before. I don’t know that I have ever been so nervous. She loved the images & didn’t ask for her $60 back. *Sigh of Relief*
Now, 8 years later, the things I learned in the first year still apply.
The goals I made in those first few months set me up for success, but I still am constantly having to grow, change, improve. Some goals still feel like giant mountains….How will I ever accomplish these big dreams? Is it even possible? Am I on the right track? Other goals – well they seem like part of the job now. Things I need to do each year in order to keep rolling as an entrepreneur.
Here are a few things that I have learned that make accomplishing goals feel a lot less scary. Ready for this?
1.) Write Them Down
No – really. Write down your dreams and goals. Get them out of your brain. Look at them on a piece of paper. Then, break them down into smaller steps for each big goal. Breaking things down into manageable tasks make it seem a lot less daunting.
2.) Tell Someone You Trust
This is a hard part for me. Sometimes the hardest part of having a big dream is saying it out loud. Telling someone what is really going on in your heart is something that I think we all get nervous about once in a while. We think “What if they laugh at me” or “What if they don’t think I can do this”?
I have a few people who have walked with me through the goals for my business and my life. People who will be honest with me but will also encourage me. You want to tell the RIGHT PEOPLE. Probably don’t want to tell someone who will add to your self-doubt – but instead you want someone who believes in you and will push you forward. We all need a cheerleader sometime to tell us “You Can Do It!” so find one…or ten.
Just start. The timing is never going to be perfect. No matter how much you think that 3 months, 1 year, 10 pounds, more money, more time, more stability…WHATEVER your excuse is – there will always be a reason to put it off. But, the best way I know to accomplish a dream or a goal? Is to start trying to accomplish it. Just get movin’. Take the first step.
4.) READ & LEARN
Articles. Books. Blogs. How-To Articles. There is SO much information on the internet. People are so generous with their tips & tricks. I’ve learned so much by reading books AND watching YouTube Videos. Business books are packed full of productivity tips that apply to almost every area of life.
I like to look up information about authors before I go buying and believing ALL their tips – but if someone has a history and resume in what I am trying to learn, I love to hear what they have to say! Bring a highlighter & a stack of post-it notes. Write down the things you want to remember and put them in a place you will see them.
5.) Spend More Time Looking FORWARD Than You Spend Looking AROUND.
Comparison is something that can sidetrack me faster than almost any other thing. As soon as I get more focused on what everyone else is doing than I am with what I am supposed to be doing? Never good. Discouragement, self-doubt, and fear set in. Soon, I start to think that I should be more like everyone else.
Everyone is going to go at a different speed. The other photographers around me? They might grow faster than me. Or slower. Or just DIFFERENTLY. AND THAT IS OKAY. It doesn’t matter what their story is when I am pursuing my own. There is always going to be someone better than you. You are going to have to know that and be okay with it. BUT THAT DOESN’T MEAN YOU ARE NOT GOOD.
The best way to accomplish your goals? Be the best version of you. Don’t try to mimic someone else, because you will probably be horrible at it. YOU WERE NEVER SUPPOSED TO BE THEM. You are supposed to be you. The best version of you, getting better every year. So focus on that and let the other people focus on themselves.
Today I spent the day photographing 5 different people for some updated head shots. From business owners to sales people to real estate agents. I spent the day with people who are living their dreams. All of them took risks to get to the place they are today.
Nothing makes me more motivated than hearing other people talk about the things THEY are passionate about and watching them pursue it.
I’ll be so honest, it is not always easy. And I think if it was, I wouldn’t appreciate the wins as much.
The hard times. The moments of insecurity. The beginning years of spending hours upon hours googling things in order to figure them out. The hustle. The late nights editing. The asking people if I could photograph them for free just so I could learn how to use my camera better.
Those moments all contribute to the joy of this season. Of looking around and being so grateful for the people this business has introduced me to and the successes I have had along the way.
You’ve got this, friend.