Lessons Learned in the Sixth Year

Have you ever taken a minute from a busy day to slowly sip a cup of tea, or taken an hour from a busy week to treat yourself to a spa treatment (even in your own bathtub), or taken a week from a busy year to enjoy vacation with your family? Those are the kind of things I look forward to. Those little moments of bliss remind you that even though you LOVE what you do, and you’re wonderful at what you do, it’s not good for you to do it ALL the time. It’s refreshing to take a break. And it feels really good to take care of yourself.

I’ve recently learned to follow this simple yet profound airline instruction, “Secure your own mask before assisting others.” To help and serve others, you must first take care of yourself. I used to think that was selfish, until about eight months ago. That’s when the double espressos, only 4 hours of sleep, microwave dinners, gotta miss another social event, just put it in a ponytail – kind of days began. I wondered if I was still human. I didn’t feel like the vibrant, charming, sweet girl that Matt married just a year before. I was so focused on work that I wasn’t paying attention to myself – and that my friends, is more destructive than being selfish.

So how did I get back to being my bright-eyed, witty, cheerful self? I listened to Pharrell’s “Happy” on repeat. No, I set boundaries for my workdays, set goals for my health, and set aside time to be me. As much as I love being a wedding photographer, I’m also a wife, a mommy to two doggies, a daughter, a sister-in-law, a member of a church community, and a friend. Don’t get me wrong, I still work A LOT, but I can achieve so much more when I’m well rested, focused, positive, and healthy in every sense. I’m finally enjoying the life God intended me to have because I’m learning my limits, and learning how to have more focused workdays.

I can sleep 7.5 hours every night + make healthy meals + play with my dogs + workout at the gym + pray + spend time with my husband + get a lot of work done. Yes, AND get a lot of work done! All those things don’t happen every single day, but they can. When it comes to computer work (which is a 90% of my job) I’ve found I can get more done with focused bursts of work. You can read more about that awesome strategy here, but stick around for one more major thing I learned…

Know your limits. You can only do so much. Part of what got me in a pickle is I said YES too much. To be perfectly honest, I took on too many weddings too close together last year. But I changed my game plan for 2014 so I can take better care of myself. There are buffer weekends built in to my wedding season calendar – to catch up on editing, to rest, to breathe. There are massages scheduled for the Monday after every wedding weekend. There’s a family beach vacation between the peaks of wedding season. All those little moments of bliss are going to be so refreshing, so I can come back to work with genuine enthusiasm!

Perhaps you’ve seen the quote, “You have as many hours in a day as Beyonce.” It’s meant to be encouraging – that you can achieve anything, right? But I couldn’t stop laughing when @mavenbeautybar posted, “Yes, but she has a nanny, housekeeper, chef, personal trainer, hairstylist, makeup artist, and manicurist. Let’s keep it real.” So be realistic about how much you have to do, and if it’s too much to handle, get some help. It could be a sign of growth, not weakness! To my photographer friends, you may want to consider hiring out a photo editor, album designer, or office manager. Another great resource for anyone busy, especially moms, is TaskRabbit, which allows you to outsource errands and housework. Just don’t be afraid to ask for help or support. Love what you do – but don’t let yourself burn out from it.

Now that I’m trying to have super focused workdays, trying not take on more than I can handle, and trying to take care of myself – there’s so much more joy in my life. And I’m finally going to make this blog happen! I was super blessed by 19 weddings and 35 portrait sessions in 2013 (my sixth year as a wedding photographer!) and I can’t wait to share them with you!

I’d love to hear from you! What part of your life would benefit from more focus? If you’ve been pushing your limits, is there anything you can delegate, outsource, or take a little break from?

  • Amen to all of that haha, I feel like I was just thinking this today, I even took the morning off to play with some sculpey and cuddle with my dogs 🙂 that Beyoncé thing cracked me up too!

  • LOVE this and I couldn’t agree more! I totally burned myself out at the end of last year and nevwr saw my husband, pups, or friends. Not worth it at all. Boundaries are a must! And having grace with myself and my own expectations. 🙂

  • Oh my goodness, I felt like I was just reading my own story! I too recently hit total burn out and had to learn the hard way of how to set simple boundaries. It makes me feel so much better to know that other people have felt the same! Thanks for sharing and thanks for the wonderful reminders! Really great post!

  • i really like this post! it definitely keeps things in perspective! i’ll just be so glad when i can finally go full time! haha. just need to get a few more weddings before that’s gonna happen. 😉 i love the idea of scheduling little breaks and pick-me-ups in between the craziness! great post!

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