Yesterday we had to stop at the grocery store on the way home from church. At the checkout counter was the latest Magnolia Journal Magazine and of course I’m a big fan so I had to pick it up. It was also a pretty day yesterday so I took some “me” time, sat by the pool and did some reading. I was expecting lots of pretty pictures but instead I ended up crying and got a swift kick in the butt from Joanna. Since reading that little “letter” from Joanna, I’ve been messed up. I swear that was written for me. And we are the same person, like hands down. I could have put my name on it and it would be exactly the same. I joke that she’s my “bff but doesn’t know it yet” on my website, but seriously, I wish I could give her a hug right now. She confirmed what I KNEW I needed to change for my business and maybe just now I have the courage to make it happen. In my mind, I’ve convinced myself that I was already doing this, “letting go” but maybe some parts I had physically released, but in my heart I was still holding on. I’m going to share what she wrote, and of course you go out and buy the mag so you have a hard copy too. I just might frame this page so I will be reminded often. I posted the picture with my JPP Planner, which in truth has been been a huge source of stress in my life, a mistake made, a lesson learned, and when you read below it will make sense to you too. I will write more but for now, I want you read Joanna’s words. And I have BOLDED the words that spoke to me the most.
Enough is Enough – by Joanna Gaines (written in the latest edition of the Magnolia Journal)
“I USED TO WANT TO DO EVERYTHING, BE EVERYTHING. I typically have a pretty clear vision in my mind of how I want things done. It just felt easier to do things myself rather than try to explain what I was looking for and then have to fix it all when it invariably would end up falling short. This may make sound like a textbook control freak and I probably was. I thought that my high level of perfectionism was serving me well all those years. Lately though, I have felt different. It could just be because I have more on my plate than I am physically capable of accomplishing. But whatever the reason, I no longer feel the need to do it all. I couldn’t see it until recently, but this wasn’t just about the work being done “right” there was something more sinister hiding in my best-laid plans. I realize now that I found my self-worth neatly packaged together with all that I did. In fact, the two really couldn’t be separated. I wouldn’t have admitted this back then, but I think I was scared of what I would be left with if I stopped doing. I was terrified of what I might hear if I paused long enough to listen. You know ” Fear is such a liar. I was a cheerleader in high school and I ended up long-tern damage to my back. I have a degenerative disk that likes to rear its ugly head at the most inopportune times. Picking up something the wrong way or even a little sneeze can throw my back out for days and it’s utterly futile to try to operate as a control freak when you are flat on your back. You have to accept help. It was during a particularly long episode with my back out that my heart began to change in a way that I never asked for. When I finally stopped, I got some good rest for the first time in a long while. When I took the time to listen, I received clarity on the things I am most passionate about. I received encouragement on the portion of my work that are the most life-giving and bring me the most joy. I had been holding on to so much for so long that I didn’t have the energy to savor the parts of my life that I truly love. And you know what else? The people in my life began to surprise me. I started to witness others solving problems in way I could never have thought of. I saw them come alive and as they were given the space and encouragement to really go after it without me standing over their shoulder waiting for them to make a misstep. I also realized that once I let go of the thing I was never meant to hold on to , I gained more capacity to do the things I was meant to do. I began to see that others are strong where I am weak and I did not have to be all the things to all the people. During that time of quiet and rest, it became really clear to me what my strength and passion is. I love creating beauty. That’s my lane. A lot of important thing go into running business, but this is my art. For a long time I took pride in doing it all. I though that this pride was confidence, but it was actually insecurity. I am no longer going to fall into the trap of believing that I need to be the best at everything. I’m learning how to let others run in their lanes while I stick with mine. Creating beauty feels like what I was created to do. It’s hard to describe the confidence that comes with owning that and flourishing in my small part of the bigger picture. For me, confidence is knowing that’s enough.”
AND…I am crying again.
So I made a list of the things that I have been doing that was not bringing me joy. Things that people told me that I needed to do, things that I THOUGHT would be hard to give to someone else, things that I felt “obligated” to do. I’m listing everything although recently I had the “revelation” that Joanna did and have already started those steps to change but then I also sat down this morning and made more. Here’s my list, maybe it will help you too.
Things I’m doing now that is not bringing me joy or is not the wisest decision in my current situation and the changes we are making or needing to make.
Never letting anyone in my inbox – haven’t completely let it go but now someone sorts and deletes what’s not important and answers basic questions and stars the ones that I need to respond to.
Doing ALL the editing – I outsource now, best decision ever. Now to just have someone culling, sorting and uploading files to the editor is next on the list. BUT I will always have the final say and approval, call me “quality control”
Placing orders – assistant now covers this!
Album designs – my assistant is the best!
Family sessions – yes, I’m a wedding photographer first but I get asked all the time for family sessions from my fellow photographers. I have decided that I will no longer be traveling for individual family sessions but will offer a type of “mini” session when I travel. I also want to have a certain look and style for my family sessions. I’m more of the “mom wear a long dress and dad wear a suit or really nice shirt and pants and kids be dressed up as well” type of family photographer. Think my wedding style but on a family level. I’m going to stick to limited amounts and limited locations and I will say “no” when it’s not best for the business.
Destination weddings – I LOVE traveling and I love Destination weddings, it’s in my blood and I never want to give it them up completely but when I travel now for Destination weddings they will cost more than my local weddings, not just an add-on travel cost, my packages will be more. Why? Because I’m away from my family for at least 3 days, sometimes 4, I need to be smart and make good financial decisions, not just emotional ones. THIS ONE IS SO HARD but I have to make the changes.
The JPP Planner – I’m selling the remaining JPP planners and I will be done with them – THIS ya’ll, so hard for me to say but needed. I am passionate that I designed a GREAT product. I use it religiously and it’s amazing. BUT, retail is NOT for me. We will be doing a relaunch in July and then when they are gone, they are gone. So if you love it, buy a few years worth. (this was a hard one, admitting defeat and not a good financial decision is humbling and HARD)
Packaging and sending out gifts – I’ve failed miserably at these. I get busy and it doesn’t happen. Now we have a workflow, with exactly what gifts go out and when and I don’t touch them, except for the sweet personalized note.
Managing my team – this is now Matt and Leah’s job. It’s still a work in progress but I’m letting it go.
Shooting weddings EVERY WEEKEND in certain months – I can’t do this anymore, I must have a least one weekend off, even in busy season, it’s hard to say no, but I have to.
Staying for the entire reception – This is just for me (and only if my couple approves and they will get a super cool incentive if they do) my team will be staying the entire reception if we are contracted for it, but I personally just can’t do it anymore for every wedding. I will be 46 years old in a few weeks and as much as I don’t want to admit it, my body just can’t handle it anymore. I will be there to capture all the important moments but those last few hours of just dancing, my team can handle this just fine. I want to be shooting weddings for many more years but I need to take care of my body and by not staying the entire 8-10 hrs, I can stay at my peak, capturing what my clients hire me for, the portraits, the details, and not necessarily my skill of shooting the dancing pictures with a flash. Let’s let those young assistants of mine capture all that fun. It’s get pretty dangerous when I start climbing on chairs. 🙂
Workshops – Yes, I have allowed myself to do too many workshops lately and I just can’t anymore. Please don’t get me wrong, I LOVE teaching but lately they have become hard. I give so much of myself during a workshop and my body and mind just can’t handle it anymore. I haven’t figured out the exact changes because I know I can’t give them up completely but I have to find some balance and some clarity. This needs major prayer and soul searching. It’s hard to give up something you love so much.
Trying to please everyone and be everything to everyone – just can’t do it anymore. I raise my white flag.
Not taking days off – I will now take 2 days off a week. That means no shooting, no editing. I will answer important emails and post on instagram, but that’s it.
Not staying on task – Block scheduling, it has/will become my life. I will not let distractions take over anymore
Give up trying to “impress” – I’m me. I don’t need to fit a mold to be successful. You either like me or you don’t. I’m not marching to anyone else’s drum but mine.
Now, on to the things that bring me joy…some of these are in my life but some need added and my time needs to be more devoted.
Loving on my clients and giving them more of an experience – I’ve always tried to do this but sometimes because of how busy I am, I fail. I need to change this.
Showing more appreciation to my vendors – my vendors are the life of my business, sadly, I haven’t shown them as much love as I should.
Writing – I love to write, it’s such an outlet for me, so “Monday Musings” is coming back to blog.
Being more “present” at weddings and shooting more from the heart than what I’m “programed” to do. I’ve been shooting for a long time, it’s easy to just go with the flow, time to make some changes.
Investing in others – when I give up the other obligations, I will free up more time to be present. In order to have friends you have to be one. I’ve been lacking in the department and I’m sad and lonely. I have tons of “friends” but I’m really longing to have those true connections who love me for me, not for who I am.
Shooting more of what I love but better – What makes me happiest? Weddings and Anniversary sessions! I want to focus on keeping most of the weddings local and limit the amount I do a year, travel for my Anniversary sessions (so my traveling bug can be met) and create beauty and tell stories.
Giving back – I’ve always said that God gave me this platform for a reason, I want to find it this year.
Creating more tools for my fellow photographers – I feel by creating more online it will fulfill my need to teach and educate but free up my schedule to do more good at a different level than teaching too many workshops.
Write my book – it’s been a dream of mine, time to make it happen
Shoot for me
It’s time friends. I need to make changes, it’s going to be hard and it will be a process but I’m going to do it. I HAVE to do it. Stop being afraid of failure, admit that you made a bad choice, don’t let “being busy” define your success, run in your own lane, do what you love. I never intended to have a business this big. I never intended to be “popular or known” in the photographer world, I never asked for this, I never even pursued it to be honest, but this is my life so I have to figure out how to live it and still have a life. So Joanna has helped me. I will only do what brings me joy, the rest I can give up.
So I challenge you, Find your joy and let go of all the rest.
Thank you Joanna, I know God put that on your heart to write that and I know it was hard but because of that I am changed. Maybe one day I can meet you in person and give you that hug.
Until next time friends,