Making The Mental Shift To Do Whatever You Choose To Do

This post is Day 1 of 30 Ways In 30 Days To Redesign Your Life With Photography. This series seeks to provide you with practical steps to get you from wherever you are today, to exactly where you want to be – this year! If your goal has always been to take your photography to a whole new level, hang on and start enjoying a new lifestyle you’ve always dreamed of.

When I decided to run this series a few weeks ago, my main goal was to help real photographers with real problems. So I went right to the source, and started asking what issues you have as we move into 2011. [A special thank you to everyone who participated – I was overwhelmed with how detailed and thoughtful your responses truly were.]

So over the holidays, between outings and parties, I sorted your responses into piles, read through all of them multiple times, and put together this 30 day series based on the trends that I saw throughout.

So with day one of this series, we’re obviously going to start at the beginning.

One common theme I saw again and again was the pursuit of the dream. Photographers plan, they dream, they write down goals on paper, yet they don’t take the steps necessary to actually turn it into a business. What’s holding them back? Why can’t they move from an idea in their minds, to an idea that becomes reality?

If you are thinking of turning your love of photography into an income source, you’ve probably asked yourself:

  • How do I go from planning it in my mind, to actually making it happen?
  • What crucial steps do I need to take to turn my wanting a photography business into a true, income generating business?

When we first decided to turn photography into a business, we had no entrepreneurship experience, nor did we have a role model anywhere in our families. In fact, Andrew’s parents later confessed they thought we were “crazy” and fully expected to be supporting us once we told them of our plans. But after watching my own father re-interview 7 times for his position with a company he had been with for 30 years, and having the stress of it all kill him three months before he could retire, my perspective changed tenfold. Why do anything that doesn’t make you happy?

So eventually, we just made the decision to do it. We put a date on the calendar, and started redesigning our lifestyle so we could make our photography business a full time part of our lives by that date. With the date set, other things fell into place.

We no longer relied on my “job” income; we put that into savings, relying completely on what we made from photography. We found other sources of insurance, and made sure we were covered within the business itself. By making the decision, and casting it in stone by putting it on the calendar, it completely changed everything.

Here’s your test:

What is your date on the calendar?

If your date is circled in red, congratulations. The hard part is done. You realize you have your deadline, and you’re willing to take the steps necessary to meet that deadline.

If you don’t have your date yet, why not? The problem with not choosing your date is it gives you too much room for negotiation. You always have the out of not having to meet a deadline, and it gets pushed back for erroneous reasons. The problem then becomes not setting the date until you know it will work out. Or you are looking for that perfect sign that says “now is the time” to make the leap.

Guess what? That day will never come. You’ll never be guaranteed the perfect date. There will always be bills to pay, or mountains to climb. There will always be a reason to put it off; you’ll be waiting forever.

So as a part of your first day of coaching, I’m asking you to change your expectations from what will “definitely work” to what will “probably work”.

We never have a 100 percent guaranty in life. If you choose a “job”, it may be gone tomorrow. The business may go bankrupt, or there may be massive layoffs. Sure, you’ll get a paycheck every Friday until that happens. But then what?

There is inherent risk in everything we do. You could buy a house today, only to find it loses 25 percent of its value within the first two years. You could rely on a company for a retirement check, only to have them go bankrupt before you ever see a dime. We never really know what the future will hold, especially in today’s environment.

So while it would never be smart to put yourself, you family, or your career at undue risk, it’s also a safe bet to realize we are all at some level of risk every day. Rather than looking at where you are today as the safest option, how can you come up with another choice that’s equally safe, or may end up being more so?

Change Your Mindset, Break Your Own Rules

Now that you’ve changed the way you look at safety and risk, how can you start breaking your own rules? The next time you ask yourself “I can’t do that because…”, ask another question. “Why can’t I do it?” So:

  • “I can’t leave my benefits package.” becomes “How can I find an alternative health insurance plan?”
  • “I don’t have any money to start a business.” becomes “How can I put away $xxx each month to have more than enough to start out in 6 months?”

Changing the way you look at things breaks down the barriers, and puts up a new question instead. It puts your focus where it truly needs to be. Instead of concentrating on the negative, you begin to put things into a different perspective; one that gives you hope of actually achieving success.

Believe me, every photographer out there today started with the same questions.

  • How can I find my first client?
  • Should I really quit my job?
  • How can I find $xxx to put an ad in this location?
  • How can I buy all of this equipment?

The questions have been asked a million times. Some people just went out of their way to find answers to the questions. And buy finding answers, they built up a successful business in the process.

Your Homework:

1. Write down everything you do or say this month that prevents you from taking action. Every time you hear yourself say “I can’t”, write it down. This will become your to-do list.

2. Go through your new to-do list, and start changing your perspective. Instead of focusing on the “I can’ts”, change them into steps that will lead you to a new position. “I can’t because I have no money” can be changed into “I will save $200 every month to give me my startup marketing money”. Then you can find ways to save that $200: cut out the daily Starbucks runs, stop your magazine subscriptions, or stop Friday night dinners out.

3. Put your date on the calendar. This should become your number one priority. While you shouldn’t choose a date that you know is ridiculous and you’ll never meet; likewise you shouldn’t put it so far out it becomes unachievable. Also, don’t put a date out there knowing you can change it. Cast it in stone. If your belief is you can change it, you’ll never achieve it. It has to be realistic, and achievable based on your requirements and necessities.

4. Feedback. Don’t hold back; let everyone know your goals. Find a support system that will help you achieve success. If you don’t have family or friends that will support you, find a local business group to find help from. Or use this 30 day guide as your motivation. Comment here or in any of the 30 days posts. Or email me – I’d love to hear your comments or questions.

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