During the first few months of the year, we are bombarded with messages about self improvement. I have no problem admitting that this time of year inspires me but I know it can be overwhelming for many people. This is why it’s crucial to be patient with yourself when you are working hard towards a personal goal. [Read more…]
Hanging out with some of my best friends.
It’s awesome to have a best friend who you know you can call up to vent to and they will listen without judgment or complaint. However, no one wants to be in a one sided friendship so make sure that you are listening just as often as you are talking.
2. Respect Other Peoples Choices
We live in a huge world full of billions of all people. There is no way we are all going to make the same choices and that actually makes life more interesting. You and your friend may have a lot in common but you are not going to handle every single situation exactly the same way. If your friend is making a choice that you don’t agree with, it is ok to respectfully tell them but just know that they may not see things the way that you do and they are an adult that is free to make their choices.
3, Say You’re Sorry
If you are friends with someone long enough, it is almost guaranteed that you will eventually do something to upset them in some way. That is just how things happen in the real world. Maybe it was a complete mistake, maybe you are a wonderful person but you were having an off day, or maybe you are a horrible person but you are trying to be better. No matter the circumstances, sincerely apologize and do what you can to fix the situation.
4. Treat Your Friends as You Would Want to Be Treated
It’s the Golden Rule for a reason! You can’t expect to go around treating people horribly and expect them to continue treating you with kindness. If you want fun, loving, and supportive friends, be a fun, loving, and supportive person.
Compliments go a long way, especially when they come from someone who we care about. I am not talking about a Facebook comment compliment here but a real life in person compliment. Women will so often tell each other when they look less than perfect (yes, I am tired and thank you for pointing that out) why not point out something positive. I know my best friend puts a lot of effort into her hair and I always take the time to tell her how awesome it looks when we are on a lunch date.
6. Celebrate Their Successes
It is easy to be jealous of that friend who has an awesome career, an attractive husband, a brand new car, a brand new baby, and some how still manages to have a flatter stomach than you (even though you have never carried another human inside of yours). I mean, who could really blame you, right? What if you tried something different though? Why not celebrate this friends success with her. Chances are she works hard on her career, her marriage, and her abs. At the very least, she has been through childbirth, which as far as I am concerned means she should at least get some sort of medal. It’s often said that you are the company you keep so instead of sipping on haterade, why not be encouraging and happy for your friend? This way you can learn more about how she has found her success, and work on your own form of success so that you can wear your hater blockers together.
7. Respect Their Privacy
Social Media sometimes makes us forget that people are allowed to live off line and have their own private, personal pieces of information that they don’t have to share with the public. Maybe your friend is applying for new jobs, maybe she is dating someone who she doesn’t want to introduce to her friends yet, or maybe she is going through some private family drama. Regardless what her situation is, if she doesn’t want to share it with you, respect her privacy no matter how many secrets you shared in middle school.
8. Be Encouraging
Is your friend trying to fit into her old jeans? Maybe she wants to go after an ambitious career goal? Nothing hurts more that hearing doubt from your so-called friends when you are chasing your goals so be sure to be encouraging. It can be as simple as sending an encouraging text before an interview or as elaborate as surprising her from the sidelines at her first 5k with giant glittery signs and a home made gold medal at the finish line.
9. Check in on them for no reason
Call, email, or even send a card snail mail style just to say hello and see how they are doing. Everyone loves knowing that someone is thinking of them and hoping that they are having a great day. It takes all of 2 minutes to complete any of these tasks so why not brighten someone’s day?
10. Love and Respect Yourself
Last but certainly not least, to be a good friend to others, you should be a good friend to yourself. If you treat yourself with love and respect, you are more likely to treat others the same. If you are self destructive and unstable, you are more likely to treat others badly. Make sure to have a positive relationship with yourself and surround yourself with other positive people. Being a good friend to yourself is imperative because after all, you start and end each day with YOU!
Entrepreneurship is a risk-based profession. Many factors outside of your control can effect your business and you need to be able to navigate a career where these factors pop up from time to time. In life and in business there are some risks that you should expect to take and some that you should take to get ahead.
Trust someone to help you.
Sometimes people disappoint you. We’ve all been there. But this doesn’t mean that ALL people will disappoint you. You may feel like you can’t trust anyone with anything business related because your business is your baby and no one can care for it the way you can. If you are the face of your business and the brand is built around your personality then there may be some truth to that but, that still doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from the help of others. Allowing others to help you with your business is not the same thing as letting someone take over or giving up the reins completely. You will be shocked at what a little help from friends, family, or employees can do for you. Tasking others with your least favorite things to do will allow you to focus more time on what you love and get more items checked off of your to do list. You don’t have to give up the drivers seat, just start letting other people ride in the car!
Abandon your steady paycheck.
A lot of people think that because they walk into work every day into a building that someone else owns and sit at a desk that someone else provided, they are guaranteed a paycheck. This is false. Just because you have a “regular” job, you are still not guaranteed a steady paycheck. You never know when a company may need to downsize and if you are not the CEO, then you don’t get the final say in who stays and goes. Owning your own business is a financial risk but at the end of the day, you decide who stays and goes. If luck and hard work are on your side, you may end up making more than you ever could have at your day job.
The right collaboration can take a good project and turn it into a great project. Finding the right people to work with can sometimes be a challenge but with social media on your side, you can get a great idea of someones work ethic and creative capabilities before you even send them a hello email. Collaborations can help you build a stellar portfolio that represents your best work, find new ways to be creative, and have a list of awesome creatives to work with on speed dial.
Donating personal time.
You can’t expect to launch a successful business without putting in some extra time. If you are used to always having a 40 hour work week that fits perfectly into a Monday to Friday format, get ready to say goodbye to it. Being an entrepreneur often requires long, weird hours. Depending on what kind of business you own, you won’t necessarily always need to log so many extra hours but be prepared to cut into your personal time in the first few years of entrepreneurship.
Put yourself out there.
You can’t get what you don’t ask for. If you are having a difficult time finding clients or customers, it may be because you are not putting yourself out there as much as you could be. Are you completely utilizing social media with both relevant and consistent posts and updates? Are you networking in person when you can? Are you offering to be a leader in your industry and speak out or share knowledge on the topics you are an expert in? If you answered no to any of these questions, you need to be putting yourself out there more. Whether you are extroverted or introverted, there are tons of creative options for getting your name out there so get that idea book out and show the world what you can do.
It happens to all of us at some point or another. The best intentions are laid. We carry them out to the best of our ability. Yet still, somehow, things don’t work out quite as we planned. Maybe our calculations were wrong, maybe we didn’t really give it our all, or maybe the timing just wasn’t right.
Regardless of why, we all deal with failure at some point or another. For those of us who strive to always do our best in any given situation, the disappointment that comes with failure can be devastating. In fact, many individuals in creative or entrepreneurial fields give up on their dreams after their first taste of failure to venture back to the illusion of the safer road more traveled.
My first business was a complete failure. To outsiders, it looked like I was building a happy and successful career but, what I was actually doing was quite the opposite. My first true venture into the world of entrepreneurship was my wedding planning business. I started by helping out and shadowing other wedding planners and volunteering to work at charity galas. I quickly discovered that I had a knack for planning and decided to open a business. I always knew that I wanted to be an entrepreneur but I didn’t always know how to get there.
My event planning business took off quickly and quite successfully. I was booking weddings left and right. I even found myself turning weddings down occasionally because I was already booked on certain dates. I added on photography services and started getting more work than ever. I dropped out of school to focus more on my business and I sold my first car to purchase a better camera. I was making gambles left and right. For the first time, the always careful, over-analyzing, type A person that I normally am was nowhere to be found. I was now someone who had money in the bank, which at the time to me meant that I had a bright future.
The brightness didn’t last long because my flame fizzled out almost as fast as it was lit. At first I felt pride in calling myself a workaholic but a few years later, I felt constantly exhausted and creatively unfulfilled. I was burnt out completely and feeling trapped in a career that I no longer loved. First, I tried cutting out event planning to focus on wedding photography to see if that would help. For awhile things got better but, quickly I found myself with those same feelings of entrapment, exhaustion, and confusion of how something that use to be so great ended up making me feel so horrible. I felt like my once over-flowing cup was now completely empty. Then my grandfather died.
His death was slow and I was there daily to watch it happen. There were times I thought he might get better but ultimately, I was wrong. His sickness forced me to slow down for the first time in my life and focus on what was most important to me. For the almost six months that he was sick, I saw him every single day minus the day of my cousin’s engagement in North Carolina. We would talk about politics, life, creativity, art, and business. We would read the paper together and play Sudoku. He watched golf while I answered emails. I took on a lot less work to soak up every last minute I could with him. For the first time since I started my career, I finally put it second.
After he was gone I was left with a hole in my heart and a massive amount of spare time. Even before he was sick I spent most Sundays at his house and I now had to find a way to use that time productively as well. I sat down with a clear head and asked myself the following questions:
- What do you enjoy spending your time doing?
- If money were no object, what would you do?
- When do you feel most fulfilled?
- What makes you happy?
The honest answers were and still are:
- Being creative and spending time with loved ones.
- Helping others.
- When I have successfully helped others and when people genuinely love my art.
- Travel, reading, creating, and helping.
Because I had fallen out of love with weddings, I could no longer find the creativity in it. I longed to shoot more social justice projects, creative portraits, and travel images but I never had the time to focus on them. I hated giving up my weekends to work. Although many entrepreneurs work on weekends, working a wedding is much different than taking a Saturday meeting or answering emails for a few hours on a Sunday. I was often missing important family events and I missed spending time with friends. Worst of all, I no longer felt like I was helpful because I felt like I wasn’t finding the creativity in my career anymore. My cup was bone dry.
Don’t misunderstand me. There are clearly many wedding professionals out there in photography and other fields that are making a huge difference in this world. They are delivering images that people will cherish for the rest of their lives. They are making families feel at ease during a stressful time. They are capturing time and gifting it to others. Their cups are so full that they are filling up other cups and handing them out to those in need. I just knew that this was no longer what I wanted to do.
This led me to pull out my camera and focus on a subject that brings joy to my face. Creative portraits. I started thinking less about booking my next gig and more about why I want to work behind a camera. Feeling better about what I was doing led to my work getting better which led to more gigs. I spent time working on Equal and Forever, which makes me feel fulfilled because I am helping others. This led to more views, more user engagement, and more vendors joining our program. Last but not least, I realized that other entrepreneurs and those who are considering entrepreneurship were often asking me to sit down for coffee or tea so they could ask me about owning a small business. This led to me using my knowledge on both success and failure to consult other businesses in branding, social media, and entrepreneurship.
The truth is, without failure, I would never have known which questions to ask myself in order to get to where I am now. Finally, my career answers all of those questions. Finally I feel like I am helping others, being pushed creatively, and still having the time to spend with my loved ones. Because of where my career has been in the past, I know how much to appreciate where I am now. I know to be thankful for every opportunity and to shower gratitude on every moment that has led to this one. I feel balanced, I feel fulfilled; I feel happy. And I have failure to thank for all of that.
My cup has never felt more full.
Monday night I felt a slight tickle in my throat and assumed that I might be coming down with a sore throat. I gargled with some warm salt water and went to bed. I woke up two hours later with a high fever and every muscle in my body in pain. A visit to the doctor the next day confirmed what I already knew–I had the flu. Most people assume that when you work from home as an entrepreneur and you are sick, it’s just business as usual. If I had a cold or a mild sore throat, I may have chose to carry on with my regular scheduled work week but the flu doesn’t really allow for that. Not to mention, it is just as important to get rest and proper care when you are a small business owner as it is when you are an employee that heads to a work place every day. Here are the three major things I learned last week while sick with the flu that will continue to help me run my business more efficiently while also taken proper care of myself.
1. It pays to plan ahead.
When I found myself too sick to open up my computer last week, I was extremely thankful for the fact that I always work ahead. While I wasn’t able to keep up with emails last week, I could rest soundly knowing that blog posts and social media for Equal and Forever were already taken care of. Not only does working ahead keep me organized, on task, and allow me ample time to review my work before it goes public, it also is insurance in case anything goes wrong. If I find myself facing a sickness or an emergency, there’s no need to stress and out and worry about work. Blog posts for Equal and Forever are always completed two weeks ahead of time, insuring that I have plenty of time to focus on getting healthy again.
2. You can’t do it all.
The first thing I did when I noticed that my throat was starting to hurt was call my partner for Heart and Hustle. I knew there was a chance that my voice may not be up to recording a podcast episode the next day and I was unfortunately right. I kept hoping to be able to record later in the week but as my health decreased, it became obvious that recording was not going to be an option. Eventually I had to accept defeat and turn my attention to getting well again. When you are sick, sometimes you just can’t do everything that you wish you could.
3. Health is number one.
The last few weeks have been incredibly busy for me and I’m ashamed to say I have been running myself ragged. I’ve been so busy with work that I have skipped workouts and on a few occasions, skipped some of my vitamins. While I haven’t ate horribly, there have been meals where I could have planned a better, healthier option. Not putting my health first means not having my immune system be as strong as it can be and that leads to sickness. It doesn’t take a large amount of time to put some effort into planning my meals and snacks, making time to be active, and taking all of my vitamins. When I do all of these things, I actually feel better. I find that it is easier to focus on work and get more done. In the moment it can be easy to forget that the best answer for business isn’t always more work. I’m going to strive to not forget that my health should always be my top priority.
There’s a question that most entrepreneurs ask themselves at one time or another. Can I have it all? The answer to that question is, yes you can have it all. It just looks differently than what you think.
Work life balance is finally starting to be more widely embraced among entrepreneurs. With bestsellers like Tim Ferriss’ 4-Hour Workweek, and endless advice on the Internet about how to achieve work-life balance; it seems that entrepreneurs are fully embracing the work smarter not harder mentality. Although entrepreneurship goes hand in hand with having a career you love, less time at work means more time for your family, health, hobbies, and travel.
The problem is, for the vast majority of us, balancing all of those things can still be a struggle. Lately I have realized that I have a pretty good handle on keeping work, my health, and my social life balanced but I have no idea how I will continue that balance once children are brought into the picture. I also travel less than I want to and I know that will only increase once children are brought into the picture. Although John and I are not planning to have children too soon, this thought already creeps in the back of my mind.
A friend of mine, who is a mom and a small business owner, recently told me that you find the time to be a parent but that time comes from other areas of your life. So essentially, one day I will find the time to be a parent but it will mean that I am most likely doing less of something else. I simply can’t make more hours in a day so something will have to give. This doesn’t mean that I will have to give up an area of my life completely, just that it will be different. Instead of doing cardio in the morning, a Beachbody workout mid day, and weights in the afternoon with John, I may find myself doing one workout and walking with my child in the afternoons. Instead of spending certain weekends getting lost in a book and reading until I fall asleep, I might read for an hour before my children wake up.
Having it all doesn’t mean that I can’t be an entrepreneur, artist, wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, etc. It just means that I can’t be perfect. In order to have it all, I have to know that there are some areas that I may not be the absolute best in. There will be days that I don’t balance everything perfectly, there will be times when I make mistakes, and there will be moments where I feel like I don’t have it all together. That’s a part of life whether you are trying to have it all or not.
Once you let go of the notion of being perfect, you can have it all by simply giving life your all and doing what you can to maintain a healthy balance. We often have an image in our mind of someone who has it all but the reality is that the only way to truly have it all is to completely embrace imperfection. Redefine having it all to having all that you want and all that makes you feel healthy and happy.