STEP FOUR: What are the three biggest lessons you learned from what DID work?
- Trust God. Always. This has got to be the biggest lesson I've learned this year. It took a long time to get me to this place; this place of turning to God first in all situations good and bad and talking to Him to get me through it. And in trusting Him, I surrender my control. For a control freak, that's saying a lot. But every time that I turned to Him first, I got an answer. That doesn't mean that it was my answer, but it was what was in his plan for me.
- Do what you love. I found that I did my best work when I was excited and passionate about it. It's tough to get through a project that you don't care about or have any motivation for. A couple of the styled photo shoots I worked on this year really fired me up and made me see that doing what I love creates the best work. In addition, listening to my heart. For the last several months, even through the rebranding process, I've questioned whether or not to continue with weddings as a core part of my business. I've prayed on it and asked God to remove the desire from my heart if it is not something I should continue to pursue. I believe that in listening to my heart, I'm listening to God and his plan for my life. There's just a little part of me that wants to hold on to that idea that the whole reason I started was to shoot weddings, and that by giving it up, I'll be giving up my dream. But there's some quote that says you have to say "no" to good things to say "yes" to great things....I'm still reflecting and praying on this!
- Focus on what matters most. This has been a huge lesson to me this year. While it was highlighted during the course of Making Things Happen Intensive in Austin, I believe that it's been something tugging at my heart strings this year. What matters most in my life? To me it's my husband, my family, my dog, my inner circle of friends. People. Connections. Feeding that connectedness makes me come alive. Everything else, just secondary. I know that if I focus on what matters most, I'll have everything that I need. I won't get caught up in frivolous things..like social media banter and useless gossip. I want to spend more time with family (though we have no family that is local), more time with friends (we really want to host more), and start a family of our own.
STEP FIVE: What are the three biggest things you learned from what DIDN’T work?
- Don't worry. Pray. Worrying. It's pointless. And as a recovering worrier...I've learned to pray instead. One of the greatest things that I've done in just the last quarter of 2012 was to write down my prayers. It's been really cool to go back and see how God has moved in my life and in the life of others. There were nights this year where I wouldn't be able to sleep because I was worried about something and my mind would just run around like a hamster in a wheel. On and on. It's been a process, but now whenever I start to feel some worries come on, I turn to prayer, whether it's on paper or just talking to God. A few months ago, after reading a devotional from our church, part of the task was to sit down and just talk to God as if He was sitting across the table from me. It was awkward at first, but at the same time, it was freeing and liberating just giving it all to Him. I even got emotional in some of my prayers...probably because they meant so much. So prayer has been HUGE for me this year, especially in the face of worry.
- Comparison is the thief of joy. I know that I cannot compare my successes/failures to someone else's successes/failures. But it's so easy! And the fastest way to launching myself into discouragement is comparing myself with others. Thanks to good ol' social media, it's even easier to sit behind my computer screen and see what everyone else is doing/sharing/making happen. And it's really easy to make it look like I'm doing big things thanks to social media...It's really interesting whenever I talk to someone and they ask me about my business. "Oh looks like you've been busy" "Looks like you're doing really well" "Seems like you're always doing something." Looks can be deceiving, my friends. And this is where I struggle in the digital world. It's easy to look busy. But busy doesn't mean successful, necessarily. When other people comment that it looks like I've been busy, it's hard to just admit that, "no, not really," or "actually my business needs more clients" or anything of the sort. I feel like admitting that my business is not where I want it to be shows weakness. Part of me strives to be authentic at all times, but the other part of me is terrified of looking vulnerable because in my mind that's a sign of weakness and failure. I know that's not the case. I think it might be different if those reading my blog were purely other photographers and creatives...but since there may also be potential clients, I feel like looking like a hot mess, like I don't know what I'm doing could be detrimental....is this the case?! My fear is that I don't want to appear like a failure to others. I know that one of the biggest things I struggle with on a constant basis is knowing that I am enough and that the opinions and thoughts of "others" don't matter. You know, I thought that those insecurities would be gone when high school is over, but that's definitely not the case.
- Push through the difficult things to get to the good things. I have a fear of money. Not having enough of it. Running out of it. This whole scarcity mentality going on. Because of that, I don't like to look at my finances (until absolutely necessary) which I know is not healthy in either my personal life or my business. So instead of cringing to look at my bank account, I set up a date with myself once a month to check everything out and make sure that it's on track. I've actually found joy using Excel spreadsheets to keep things in check and I use Outright.com for my business. Outright makes it super easy to keep track of business income and expenses without making it complicated. I've found that whenever I do get into my finances, business or personal, and push through it, I'm always relieved and glad that I did, in fact do it. There's something to be said for "ignorance is bliss"...until you've ignored it so long that it's out of control. Something that we're working on in 2013 is to get out of debt (minus the house) and I've read Dave Ramsey's book Total Money Makeover and after working some numbers, we can do it! These things aren't fun, but once you do them, it makes life so much easier.
STEP SIX: What is your 2013 VISION? What kind of life do you want to live this year? Where do you want to be when you’re 80? WHY do you do what you do? What is your mission? What is your CORE?
I want to live my life with an abundance mentality. Of giving, of sharing, of growing. Of helping others. I want to live a life where I'm not worried about money or not having enough. I want to live a life where there's always enough and more and enough to share, whether it's money, time, resources, or knowledge. I want to be surrounded by those that matter most to me, building a life with my husband that is full of joy and centered on the Lord. I want to live an authentic life, where I can share my heart and not worry about what other people may think of me. I want to live with confidence in who I am, in who I am in my marriage, and who I will become as we start a family. I want to spend my days filling my life with inspiring things, not getting caught up in what other people are doing. Happily celebrating other people's successes. I want to live a bright, inspired, authentic life. (I'm still figuring out how to do that). When I'm 80, I want to have an arsenal of life stories to share with my grandchildren. I want to go on adventures. I want to travel. I want to see the world beyond the social media walls. I want to change the lives of others, even if in just a small way. I want to help women feel important and beautiful when they don't see it themselves. I want to have a successful business - one that is both fulfilling and takes care of the needs of my family. I want to create art, but I also want to run a profitable business. I want to meet people and build meaningful connections, knowing that it means that not everyone will be my friend. I want to live a life freed from the chains of comparison. I want to live a life that is open to trying new things. I want to have a life that gives more than it receives. I want to live a passionate life, passionate about my work. I want to write my own definition of success. I want to have a life that is simple. I want simplify what is complicated and life my best life yet. I want to help people. I want to inspire people. I want to add value to the lives of others. I want to put myself out there more. Create more. Listen to my heart. Listen to advice from people who have my back. Eat less, move more. Buy Less, make more. Stress less, laugh more. Feel blessed, love more. Worry less, live more. Breathe.