38,000 feet. A tiny porthole like window to my left, little white puffy cotton ball shaped clouds spread out below me as far as the eye can see. Occasionally offering glimpses of homes, rivers, trees and millions of people going about their day chasing their dreams. I am overwhelmed at how blessed I am to have the opportunity to live mine.
My gratitude list runs long. Obviously there are the big ones: the health of me and my family, my supportive husband and two of the best tiny people that I could have asked for, the blessing to live in a part of the world free from daily struggles for survival over tyranny and violence. The rest of the list literally could go on for pages: the opportunity to earn a living doing something I love, the flexibility to create my own schedule, and a network of friends that always keep us laughing…often at happy hour. My gratitude continues drilling down getting to the everyday things like Trader Joe’s dark chocolate peanut butter cups and Eric Church.
The mind is an incredible creation and we have an unbelievable amount of power to affect our day-to-day life….for better or for worse. We must choose to be happy each and every day. Yes, some days are much more difficult and we will certainly go through times of darkness in our lives…..but I promise you that there is ALWAYS something to be thankful for.
The funny thing is that once you start making these little changes to your life they all start building on each other and snowballing into the life that you have been waiting for.
#1. Start a gratitude journal.
This does not have to be fancy and it can be tangible or digital. I have a little notebook that I just write the date and list 3 things that I am thankful for each morning. I believe that there is no better way to start your day then to start from a place of gratitude and thankfulness. I have heard of people that keep a special rock on their desk or in their wallet that prompts them to think of something they are grateful for each time they see it. It can be anything, a journal, a bracelet, a rock, or a button. Just create a routine that encourages you to be thankful for the blessings that you have.
#2. Happy is a decision.
You may have heard of the book, The Secret. I believe that it was recommended by Oprah some time ago and as many things that Oprah recommends it became fairly well known. Parts of the book are a little too New Age-y for me, but it is a good read none-the-less. Basically, it talks about the Law of Attraction. If you have negative thoughts swirling around your head, your subconscious will work to make those thoughts a reality. While EVERY artist, myself included, goes through regular battles of self-doubt, it is IMPERATIVE to quiet those voices in your head and replace them with positive thoughts.
Your mind will create the life that you envision. If you feel that you will never get ahead, that you will never have enough money, that you will never have clients paying $2,000 for a session, I doubt that you will.
Henry Ford said it best, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t. You’re right.”
However, if you visualize running a successful business and taking vacations with your new found freedom and income, believe that there are more then enough clients for all of the photographers in your area, and instead of holding onto every penny in fear of not having enough try to believe that there is enough to go around and be generous with your resources to help others. It has been my experience that it will come back to you…and often tenfold.
#3 Write Goals.
I want you to do these two things to do RIGHT NOW if you don’t have them already in place. First, write down all of the details that you can possibly muster that describe your business vision. This is the business that you want to have in 5 years. Do you want a retail space, shooting only one niche, associate shooters, studio manager, one-person business, studio or location shooting? What is your average session sale, how many sessions per year, what is your gross and net income? How much are you working, full time or part time, do you travel? Details.
Revisit this long-term goal setting once a year. It will change and that’s ok. This becomes the barometer upon which you can make decisions for your business. Is this particular decision getting you closer to your goal or not? That makes it much easier to say no to opportunities that may not actually be a good fit.
Write down your yearly goals. Again, be specific. A few years ago one of my goals was “to be in Pittsburgh Magazine”. Well, I had two images, one of which was a full page image, in the magazine that year. That was great but my intention was to have an article about my business in the magazine. So the next year I got more specific and had the goal of “be featured in Pittsburgh Magazine.”. Guess what? I had a full page piece as an Editor’s Choice selection in Best of the Burgh highlighting my equine work. Not only that but my revenue for the year on my goals was a bit of a stretch, but still possible. At the end of the year I pulled my goals back out and my total gross revenue and net profit was within $3,000 of my goal.
Your mind is powerful. Let it help you lead the life that you have been imagining.
I would love to hear your stories of how goal setting, choosing happiness, and/or making a point to be thankful has impacted your life. Please share below!