For the sake of trying to keep this post coherent, I’m going to reference my thoughts in terms of our own current life situation — I am a Wedding Photographer. I promise, however, that the thoughts in the post can be applied to anyone, so if you’re not a wedding photographer, I hope you’ll keep reading + just change some of the terminology + examples as applicable to your own life situation.
So … success. This fairly short, extremely common word has held a huge grip on my life for, well, my whole life. I’m sure of that. But especially these past three years, since starting this business, this word has swam around in my brain, making me feel super intimidated at times, very excited at others, and, most often unfortunately, quite deflated. More than anything else, when it came to success, I found myself turning inward + thinking thoughts about how we weren’t entirely successful yet, because we weren’t there … or there, or there yet in our business. But oh! When we WERE there, the success was going to feel so good + so fulfilling.
I have mentioned many times over the course of the past few years that I have experienced seasons in my life where dealing with stress + anxiety seemed like my full-time job. I think this little word we’re talking about today (you know, the “s” word) is more often than not the culprit of those negative feelings I was experiencing — and let’s be honest, still do experience! I found myself stressed that we weren’t successful in the ways I thought success was determined for wedding photographers (again, insert your own life circumstance here), + I was feeling down, discouraged, anxious, + inadequate.
So I thought + I prayed about these feelings (because they were NOT good feelings + I wanted them to go away!), + I realized something very, very important.
I didn’t know my own definition of success.
I was using OTHER people, other photographer’s definitions of success to create my own definition. I was telling myself that Accomplishment A would make us truly successful because that’s how one of the photographers I follow + admire defines success. Or I would convince myself that since another photographer I looked up to was finding success in Accomplishment B, I had to find accomplishment there as well, or else our photography business wasn’t really successful.
Am I making sense? Everyone has DIFFERENT definitions of success. And that’s actually really great! We are all wired differently, so of course, different things are going to make us feel successful. The problem arises when we never actually take the time to sit down with ourselves (or if you’re a team like us, with your partner) + define what success means to YOU. I’ve found it to be (pretty much) inevitable that you’re always going to feel deflated if you don’t engage in this practice. I mean always. You are striving after things that aren’t necessarily what YOU even what out of your life!
My goodness did we find freedom — have I found FREEDOM — in doing something so simple, but so powerful + life-changing for myself. Truly, I mean this. I wrote down what success looks like for me in my own life, how I personally define success, + made THOSE things my new definition of what it looks like for our business, + for us, to be successful. It was pretty crazy, actually, how it seemed the SECOND I made those things my definition + let everything … else … go … I felt immediate relief. Like the weight I was carrying around on my shoulders lifted + gone …
This practice has truly changed our lives — in this season at least. We feel hope. We feel JOY. We feel excitement + thankfulness for this business we have been given. This life we’ve been given. Don’t get me wrong, we still experience stress + anxiety — oh, we do! But we are no longer living in it.
I’m sharing this post today to encourage others who can relate to these feelings — to tell you that those feelings + burdens, they can be released. You CAN feel encouraged + proud of your business (your life, your circumstances, etc.) + the things you’re doing. I know, first hand, that there is FREEDOM to be found.
So, how are we defining “success” in this season of our lives?
- Having the opportunity to work with couples who are either just starting their marriage journey, or who have been on it already for years. Working with people who believe in marriage + feel excited about it, just like we do. Loving on them in a way that would encourage + impact them in a positive way on their journey.
- Days or evenings at home where we can invite friends over to make a meal together (usually tacos) and/or play one of our favorite games (currently, Code Names) more than just once every other month + actually, as often as possible.
- Being brave enough to believe in yourself + take action based on your beliefs, despite what people are going to think of you.
- Having clients walk away from their experience with us feeling deeply loved + known, with tangible artifacts they can hold on to that document their love + prevent the important moments in their lives from being forgotten.
- Growing in the art of photography. That we would always be striving to expand our artistic expression + to capture images that inspire us + that we are proud of.
- Making enough money to buy the things we need + invest in experiences together as a family, but also to bless others in an unexpected way. Being debt free is a huge part of this for us because, in being debt-free, we can truly choose how we want to spend/use everything we make.
- Finding time in our lives to invest in ourselves because we love ourselves + think it’s important to take care of ourselves (taking time to workout or to cook good meals; buying flowers if it brightens our mood, taking a trip to rest + unplug, or plugging in and turning up a guitar).
- Long, uninterrupted walks with our dog where we can talk with one other about how we’re doing (like, how we’re REALLY doing), our marriage, + dream together for the future.
- Flexibility in our schedule to be somewhere when we’re needed, whether that’s for an emergency or a celebration. Not being known as “too busy”.
Are we accomplishing all these goals right now? No, we are not. But THESE are the goals we feel excited + passionate about … goals that when they’re being achieved, we can truthfully say:
“This, yes this, is success.”