The 3 Secrets To Staying Motivated In Your Job While You Build Your Photography Business

I know many of my readers are working at photography as a second job – an income source – while they pursue their passion in photography.

That’s how we started too.

When we first decided to become professional photographers, we were working in corporate America, handling the 9 to 5 during the week, and working at our photography nights and weekends.

We did that for several years as we learned more about photography, more about being an entrepreneur, and discovering that we wanted to move beyond part time into the full time status.

When we first started out, photography was our “fun”; it was something we did together on the side. We didn’t think it would become a business. We just enjoyed doing it and wanted to be the best we could be.

Then Andrew lost 3 jobs in three years.

I watched my Dad die – constantly living with the stress of worrying about whether his 30 year career would be there the next day.

And I started listening to the people around me. I remember working with people my age saying things like “3 years down, 30 to go”. And even then I knew deep inside that was wrong.

So I started thinking about me. Actually, Andrew and I started thinking about we.

And we decided we didn’t want life in the normal way.

When you look at it, you have around 80 years on this planet. That’s 960 months. Or 4,160 weeks. If you take away your childhood years, school years, and retirement years, its more like 2,080 weeks. That’s it.

It  doesn’t sound like much when you say “I have to work 2,080 weeks in my lifetime.”

And watching other people hate what they did, or actually counting down their lives as quickly as possible wasn’t doing it for me. So I looked at it differently. Even while I had to work at the corporate job while we built up our photography business, I decided to do things a bit differently.

Motivation Secret #1: Stop Caring So Much

Many people today work 50, 60 hours a week because they are worried they might not have a job tomorrow. They commit to overtime, weekend work, and even forgo vacations, all because they are worried “the boss” may lay them off due to budget cuts and financial problems. They want to “look good” in the company’s eyes.

Guess what? I know many, many people that had that attitude and ended up with a pink slip anyway.

Yes, it can happen no matter how much you put into your job, how much of yourself you give to the “job”, and how much extra you do above and beyond what is required.

Its easy to get caught up in corporate politics. Its easy to listen to what is happening up at the top and how it will impact you and your career. Its easy to care about the decisions being made – especially when you hear things like “budget cuts” or “position cuts”.

Yet with all of those things, you have no control. They will happen whether you want them to or not.

If you put your energy into worrying about whether your job will be there tomorrow or not, you’ll lose motivation. You’ll worry. You may slip into depression. Your energy will slowly disappear.

Yet if you ignore the noise and work for yourself (yourself meaning the best you can do in your current position), work day to day for what each day brings, you’ll slowly find yourself not carrying about long term problems and issues.

Everything comes for a reason; why worry about it today. And if you have other plans and goals in mind and in process, even “problems” can be come “opportunities” quickly. How many times have you read interviews from people that say the best thing that happened to them was the day they were laid off? If you have a life outside of the “job”, it has less of an impact on you.

Motivation Secret #2: Do Things The Smart Way

While I’m not suggesting you become a slacker at work, what I am saying is consider your outcomes first. In many cases, saying “yes” to the extra tasks or commitments won’t get you anything – they just make you busier.

Ask yourself “does this matter to the bottom line”? Will your team need this in order to complete the mission? Busy work won’t get you anywhere. Only do what truly matters, and you may find you don’t need to work the overtime – which gives you that much extra time to commit to putting more time and energy into your photography goals.

Before you start down this path, you do need to build up your stamina first. If everyone else is coming in on a Saturday morning, what will they think/say when you say no? You have to be able to handle the “noise”. Yet if you are sitting around, having donuts and coffee for an hour, chatting and getting little done – something you could easily finish up Friday afternoon – why should you give up personal time to play the game?

Taking care of you isn’t a bad thing, yet all across corporate we’ve turned it into a bad thing. Company first, you second seems to be the mentality. Take it back and work smarter, not harder longer hours.

Motivation Secret #3: Learn And Grow From Everything You Do

When I decided to look at things differently, instead of focusing on what I hated about my job, I looked at what I could learn.

Granted, a large corporation isn’t the same as a small, one person photography business. But you still see and learn things that can help you.

For instance, step outside of your job and take a look at the bigger picture. How is your department run? What is your corporate mission statement? How do they market and advertise your products and/or services?

Take it all in. And write it down. Anything that you think may help you down the road, put it down on paper (or type it into your computer, what ever is easier for you).

No matter what you think of your current position, it is an educational tool that can help you from this point forward. You may learn things you want to do. Or even things you don’t. The key is to learn from them.

Most of all, never lose the ability to stretch beyond who you are today. Life is about learning. There is always something to learn from the people and things around you. And when you can, start something new. Take a class or even apply for a new position or a promotion. The change can help you see things in a different light, and motivate you that much more.

2.080 weeks, that’s all you get. Chances are some of those weeks are gone for you, depending on your age.

What are you going to do with the ones you have left?

2 thoughts on “The 3 Secrets To Staying Motivated In Your Job While You Build Your Photography Business”

  1. Lori, this great post came just in the moment I needed it most. I have been so fed up with the Corporate mentality, but not having an entrepeneur in my family, and having been raised with the 9-5 employee mentality, I thought there was no other choice, but to “endure.”

    Reading some self-help and business books (including yours), has helped me shift my paradigms. I have found in your books valuable tools to see things from a different perspective, but ever since I made up my mind and started thinking and acting upon building my photography business, I have grown even more weary of my current corporate job. I think that following your advice of learning the most I can from my current position, and see this as a learning experience for my business, seems to be the key to keep me motivated.

    Thank you for sharing your knowledge.



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