It's so easy to get caught up in what you "should do" as an artist or a business owner. It's so easy to get caught up in all of the amazing advice out there that the world and other creatives have to offer. There is a lot of information on what is the "right" way or the "wrong" way to run a photography business or just a business in general. There are endless articles and books to read, podcasts to listen to, workshops and conventions to attend, mastermind groups and people to poll your ideas with. I am an information-junkie! I have found over time that you have to sift through the noise to find your inner compass. The one that directs you north on to the path that feels right for you; for your heart, your craft, your soul. Because at the end of the day what makes someone else successful won't necessarily make you feel successful.
Q: Do you know what success means to you? What does it feel like?
Often in our culture our net-worth, level of busy, or fame we have accomplished is the way we measure our success. In my business I have learnt to measure my success on how well I am living out my values, practicing them, and how in line I am with my true core desires.
I am often tuning in to my level of happiness and asking myself, 'why are you doing what you are doing and who are you doing it for?'
I find if you are just wandering through your business and life with a task-list of advice from other people who found out what worked for them, you might end up being incredibly disappointed to find out that what worked for them doesn't necessarily work for you. You may wind up feeling disappointed, like a failure, and/or confused on why you don't feel whole and content with your work and life. You may blame your work ethic or your craft when really what is being called forward is for you to take a moment to look inward, to ask yourself: how do I want to feel every day? how do I want to feel in my business? in my relationships?
looking inward is a super power
Sadness and stress can be helpful if you allow it to be a marker, a flag in your field to show you where you are and where you would like to go. I truly believe in order to be resilient in life and in business you need to allow sadness and stress to show you the way back. An emotional awareness is a huge asset and a way for everyone to get more in-tune with what they need and to be conscious of the decisions moving them forward. Our emotions shouldn't be something we are ashamed of, if anything it should be regarded and honoured. I loved Danielle LaPortes recent blog post that said, "Sadness is an opportunity to deeply appreciate your losses and your longings" and "Sadness brings you eye to eye with your desires."
Often when I am stressed, I get a strange mixture of anxiousness and sadness. My sadness reminds me that I desire freedom, a space to not feel stressed out all the time and feeling weighed down by everyones demands. My sadness reminds me that yes I am alone in business and that I have a hard time disappointing people but that I do have a choice. My sadness is a call to learn to let people down, to take my time when I need it, to take time off when I need it, to charge what I charge and to increase it when I need to, to decide to not take a client or to respond to an email right away. Some people would look at that and say that isn't a mindset of someone successful but I respectively disagree. Success to me is a healthy balanced life, one where I am not dictated by my career every waking moment of the day, it's where I can express myself creatively with people who are incredibly kind and want to make a special connection with me. If they aren't on the same page as I am, that's ok, there is someone else out there for them.
Yoga has taught me so much- to not grasp, to breathe, to let go, and always have faith in the goodness of knowing that I am always divinely supported. I truly believe because of those values and those beliefs I am successful. I am successful in a way that might be confusing for someone else who is more concerned with the bottom line, what car they are driving right now or the level of fame they have achieved. My success is in my creativity, my expression, and in my connection with people. I want to love my people, hear my people, and see my people above all. Connection means more than anything. My success is in my level of freedom and happiness. I want to be able to soar and stretch out in so many ways, I want to feel joy all around me in everything that I do. I've realized that we are the only ones who can cage ourselves by saying too many yes's and allowing our idea of success to be determined for us. We can choose joy or we can set it aside.
Values Are your north star
I strive to be able to sit still in what I have created and feel a sense of easiness. It's not always easy, in-fact most of the time it is a conscious battle: a battle between what I feel like Im being told to want and what I *actually* want. But the more I practice from a place of compassion for myself the more I feel an ease that only comes from sticking to your principles, your values, and being the best version of your self. I remind myself every-time I feel that sadness or stress wash over me that I am no longer in line with my core values, that I am drifting away from my happiness. Stress and busyness is worn like a badge in our culture and I prefer the colours of freedom and happiness. I want to ease my own heart (I really don't want to have a heart attack before I am 30) and I can, it just means being a little more selfish with my values, practicing them, and having support from the people who love me and want me to be "successful" in them. That matters.
What do you value? Let that guide you. I truly believe that if you can be honest with yourself and allow yourself to be guided by your heart instead of your bank account that you can't fail. Of course it's important to pay your bills but not at the cost of losing your health or hurting your family by not being with them. At least for me, that's my value and doesn't necessarily have to be yours.
People want to be around other people who are passionate, happy, and who are luminous with a sense of ease not a sense of stress. I strive every day to try and stop chasing the stress (it seems easier to be stressed out) and instead start chasing the easiness, to shut it all down when I need to, to get back to people on a different day, or to allow people be disappointed because at the end of the day what matters to me is my loved ones in my home, my health, and the level of freedom I feel. I believe I attract more people around me because of those values, because other people can feel it and want to connect with me. Do you think that means I get more clients? I believe so but I don't actively seek it out, its a by-product of the inner-work that I do. My intention is to be the best version of myself always, to keep learning and sticking to what I think is right, what feels good, and practicing what I value. I surround myself with people who feel good to be around, they inspire me, they have a special spark in life- I also hire those people! We likely do it unconsciously when we gravitate to those people, or sometimes we are conscious of it and think, "this person has something. They just feel good to be around." We all have those people in our lives and if you don't... well, I would start looking inward and define your own values and what it takes to put them in action. Hard work pays off and I believe your internal world always reveals your external world. Working inside out has been the biggest importance to me and I believe it's what makes me "successful."
Let your values you guide you home,