This year has been huge.In one way or another, almost everyone I know has gone through some kind of major shift in their life this year. Some pleasant, some not. What was 2011 like for you? I really want to see YOUR reflections on 2011, so please leave me a comment or link to your blog where I can learn about your journey from this year.
For me, 2011 took me on a whirl-wind tour across the country to do some speaking, workshops, and coaching for creative entrepreneurs in San Fransisco, CA; Houston, TX; Orlando, FL; and Detroit, MI. This year was also filled with fun in San Diego, CA, then Las Vegas, NV and even more fun in Austin, TX during SXSW. I took fewer weddings and more corporate jobs and still ended up meeting my goals and then some. 2011 was also one of the best birthdays I've had as an adult thanks to some awesome friends who helped me get away from it all in Loon Mountain, NH. I also got to spend more time with family and friends this year than I have in MANY years.
I'm so grateful that I've been able to reach a healthy balancing point between work and play.
This year I also took a lot of risks that I'd been considering for a while. Some worked out- like the coaching tour, while others did not, which is totally OK because it would have been physically impossible to do it all! The important part was that I gave a few things a solid try so I wouldn't regret it later. I had wanted to start a local magazine focusing on the arts and culture of Lowell and even had some awesome people to help make it happen, but in the end, the timing just wasn't right for everyone involved (including me) so we shelved it. The groundwork was laid and if there's another opportunity in the future, I'm sure something good will come of what we've already started (in fact, I just got word that one of the super big projects I've been trying to move forward is gaining ground with a few key players while I'm gone!) I also had started shopping for a new studio space to maximize and expand my services along with some other photographers, but again, the market timing wasn't right so I ended up moving out of my studio to be better prepared for a future opportunity or collaboration, and to save up some cash for some awesome things happening in 2012. On the personal front, two of my favorite fur babies died this year- Misty and Bailey. Both had longer lives than the average pooch and they brought so much joy to the lives of everyone who knew them. They were great companions for working from home when I needed to get out of the house for some fresh air. They kept me in touch with always being fully present to each moment.
After the rain, keep your eye out for rainbows.I was able to conquer some big long term goals in 2011 that I've been working on for a while. Goals like finishing a Music Education degree I started many years ago but never really used as a photographer- which I don't regret, even with the outstanding student loans, because I learned a lot about teaching, became a better musician, and met my super awesome husband. Speaking of super awesome husband, together we've also made some great progress chunking away at a pretty significant portion of our credit card debt. While it was not the total amount I'd hoped for at the beginning of the year, we still managed to make significant progress while having tons of fun, enjoying a great lifestyle, and doing plenty of traveling together. We made a few healthy sacrifices too, and those are paying off in more than financial gains.
If you're still reading... thank you. Thank you so much for caring and staying in touch with me even when I've taken extended time outs from social media. What I'm going to tell you next may come as a shock, but I've been wanting to share it for quite a while. My break from social media has been very deliberate. As you know, if you want to grow your business, you must "always be marketing." Likewise, if you want to slow your business down, all you need to do is take a step back and stop putting yourself out there- which is what I've been doing. Are you freaking out yet? Are you on the edge of your seat? Before this gets too out of control, let me assure you that I'm still planning to be a photographer in one capacity or another. However, I will be getting VERY exclusive about who I work with and for what reasons.
I've been a professional photographer for nearly 7 years now and in the last couple years, the work that has excited me the most has been the work I've done in coaching and consulting other people toward achieving their goals and dreams. I always told myself that if I ever stopped falling in love with my work behind the camera, I would take a step back before something I loved turned into something I loathed. I'm sure you've met a photographer or two who seems to hate showing up to a wedding and would rather get a drink than grab one more photo of the party on the dance floor. I never want to be that person, EVER, so I plan to get more exclusive and only work with people I really enjoy so that I can avoid becoming THAT photographer.
I believe in doing what you love, every single day, and if what you love starts pulling you toward something other than what you're doing right now, than it's time to follow your heart into another phase of growth and self-realization.
For me, that's spending less time on photography, and more time on helping others realize their dreams. If you think you're too old to switch careers or start something new, my girl Marie Forleo has some inspirational advice for you:
I've been testing the waters with a few different methods and styles of coaching and consulting, and at this point I still consider myself to be learning and refining my style. I've identified that I'm really good at honing in on what is uniquely valuable about each person and finding the hurdles that are holding people back from being their fullest self. I believe it takes at least two years of full time practice to develop a level of mastery in any given area, so I fully expect that I will continue to learn and grow into this role for at least another year or more. Initially I had considered going the life coaching route as many entrepreneurs do, however, one of my other big scary goals has been to get a masters degree in order to leave the door open to a possible doctoral degree. Getting a graduate degree was something I had planned on doing while starting a family, but since that hasn't happened and the timing feels good now to start changing gears, I'm planning to start working on a masters next fall that will help me refine and hone my ability to help others. Applying to grad school wasn't even on my radar at the beginning of the year. So yeah, this year has been huge for change.