I won’t ever regret the past 3 years I have spent starting and building my business. For the first 2 years, it grew organically & really out of nowhere. I didn’t have a clear direction about what I wanted to do, what I wanted to specialize in, no business plan, just my love of photography and design driving me. Once I kind of figured things out and had a bit of direction, it grew exponentially. My calendars were filling months in advanced and I felt like I had more business than I knew what to do with. I was finally getting to a point where I could say “no”, where I was referring clients out, setting some terms & guidelines, AND was 100% happy to do it. I feel blessed to have met so many wonderful families and to have also helped define looks and brands for so many photographers/businesses. I was always taught it you work hard, good things will come… and they did. It has been rewarding. I felt important. I felt relevant. I selfishly felt content. I built something from nothing and am totally proud of everything I have learned and accomplished in this short amount of time.
Earlier this year, I heard something on the radio that stuck with me for many months. I found the article online and its one worth taking a peek at: Top 5 regrets of the dying
1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
2. I wish I didn’t work so hard.
3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.
For me… #2 and #4 are really the only ones I felt applied to me… everything else I think I have under control For some reason, I continued to think about this article and the words “I wish I didn’t work so hard” have plagued me . Over and over again, it played it my head. As so many people I knew were being diagnosed with this and that, some totally fighting for their lives’ for months, I really began to take a step back and think about how my life was being spent. What I was doing day to day, what was important to me, how it was affecting my family, my kids, my relationships, and me.
Then last month, there was an article circulating that really grabbed my attention and set everything in motion. You will definitely need to read it HERE to truly understand my words and feelings. The first time I read it I found myself in tears thinking to myself how guilty I was of SO many of those things, especially the past 2 years as my business flourished. That article was the catalyst for me to start changing things in my life. I more or less decided right then and there that my business and I were ready to do things a little differently. My first step was not scheduling sessions or design work over the weekends. Weekends were strictly for my family and doing more fun things together, more active things, more quality time. I have more or less stayed true to those changes over the past month except for some extraordinary things that did come up on 2 occasions, but there is always room for improvement like no answering emails at all, not taking phone calls, no Facebook-ing, etc. One day I will 100% weekend work free and that time is quickly approaching, faster than I knew it.
Maybe a week after I saw that article, I was hit like a truck when THIS video and Jen’s story started circulating. For at least a 1/2 hour I was crying uncontrollably. 2 hours later I shared it with my husband and I sobbed all over again. Of course, I was moved by her story, her courage, her journey and after I made my donation, all I kept thinking to myself was “Holy shit, that could be ME!”. In seconds, your life and the world you know could be completely turned upside down for any number of reasons. Everything you once knew, were comfortable with, and you cherished could be taken away from you, JUST LIKE THAT…. and here I am working ALL hours of the day from the time I wake up until the time I go to sleep. Whether it be answering emails, rushing to send a proof, editing, doing marketing, posting on my business page. Many times it would be at the expense of my kids and family. I found myself continually telling them “Hold on a second while I finish this email!” Or “Oh, I have to take this call… gimme a sec!” Here was a good one… “Makena, I will get your lunch in 5 minutes okay?” (which ALWAYS ended up being anywhere from 10-30 minutes). We all came to HATE the alerts on my phone for emails. I was literally cringing when my phone would go off. But what did I do? Immediately grab it, regardless of where we were at and what we were doing, read it quickly (of course telling them “Hold on a second guys….”), and then feeling the need to take 5+ minutes to return an email. I began to seriously reflect about Jen’s story and realized I was totally taking my truly precious moments here on Earth for granted. And for what? All in the name of good customer service? Now granted, my situation is a bit different because my husband and I don’t necessarily rely on my income alone. We more or less could survive on his salary, everything I brought in has been for the “perks” and extras we have been able to have like vacations, savings, shopping, etc. If I was the main bread winner in the family, I obviously would need to work a lot… however, that is not the case for me. I was doing all of that because I felt I needed & had to in order to have a successful business.
Now that was just a taste of my business life. All the work aside, the time spent on my personal Facebook page and playing games on my phone were a whole different story. I was feeling the need to update and post ridiculous things like a picture of me taking the kids to Starbuck’s. I mean really? In the grand scheme of life and staying “connected” to your “friends”, who really gives a crap about those types of things. I was posting for my own selfish reasons, thinking my friends and family really needed or even wanted to see that. I will say though, I definitely post on my personal page a LOT less than I did when I first started my account and substantially less than a lot of people I know. I don’t really post any personal pictures anymore unless they are quick and easy from the iphone. Because I take all of our main pictures on my big camera, it was mainly out of laziness that I didn’t post pictures BUT I also fell into a trap feeling like I had to edit ANY photo I took in order to post it. Obviously, that has a lot to do with me being a photographer and wanting beautiful pictures shown, but friends and family REALLY don’t care about that at all anyways. All they want to see is that everyone is healthy and happy, maybe doing fun, special things here and there…. NOT 5 times a day (for the most part & for most people anyways). That wasn’t good enough for me though. Everything was newsworthy in my opinion and far too much time has been spent feeling like I needed to show the world how great my kids were and how wonderful I am because I do this or that. I’m officially over it at my ripe old age of 34. I’m ready to TRULY enjoy all that I have been given in life and live day to day 100% “present” in their lives’. I no longer feel the need to justify my everyday life to my “friends” on Facebook. When you look at the bigger picture… is it really quality time with your kids when the main motive behind the activity is feeling the need to take a picture and post it? Will I stop posting status updates and pictures all together? Most likely not, but I will definitely slow down even more than I already have and only post things that mean something a little bit more special than the new pair of shoes I may have bought, what new movie we are going to see, or even how great I think I am because we are having a special home cooked meal!
Now it’s time to make the changes and set the business & personal plans in motion!
Officially, as of today, I will only be working from the hours of 8am-1pm Monday through Friday, no working on the weekends at all.
This will include:
- phone calls
- design work on the computer
- posting on anything on my business page
- and everything else that comes along with the businesses
This obviously comes at a horrible time since the kids are now on Summer break but that brings me to the next change, definitely a more profound one and perhaps the one that will take the most adjustment for me…
I will also being going “hands & technology” free from the world after 1pm during the week & on the weekends unless my kiddos aren’t with me or they have already gone to sleep at night. My phone is now off limits, free from any distractions, notifications, playing games, ridiculous Facebook posting’s, no emails, nothing. I’m bringing it back to a simpler time when you just spent time with your family AND enjoyed every single second of it. No more trips to the park while I pretend to feel like I’m being a good mom because I took them there BUT all the while I’m sitting on my phone either answering emails, stalking my Facebook feed, or just playing a game. I will now be 100% engaged. They have my full attention. My family is completely stoked and after I told them on Friday after their last day of school, I swear the whole family dynamic changed. It was the first weekend in a long time, where we were really & truly connected. The kids didn’t argue. They played together so great all weekend. We all joked, laughed, and had a wonderful time. I really believe that the main reason why we had such a great weekend was because I was not stressed out. I wasn’t worrying about this client or that client or rushing to write an email. I did sneak away while my daughter was at a birthday party to visit the baby from my birth session last week who ended up in the NICU, but aside from that… it was all about me, my husband, the kids, and OUR FAMILY! This is the first weekend of many more to come…
No more living a life that I was bound to eventually regret! You only get a small amount of time on this Earth and an even smaller amount of time with your young kiddos… make each one of them count! I know I will be from now on! I’m looking forward to sharing the additional changes my family has made in the coming weeks. Until then, happy monday