Every year I work for myself is another year that I learn more about my creative path and businesses. Recently I have found myself struggling to balance what I think I should be doing and what I need to do in order to stay inspired and continue my creative development. Social media is now such a huge element of any creative business in today’s world. It can be a creative visual playground but it also has it’s downfalls. Some days it can be your creative outlet and visual inspiration to drive yourself and other days you can find yourself more focused on needing to post at exact times for ‘maximum’ likes across at least 4 different social network platforms and spending too much time worrying about what everyone else seems to be doing.

My aim this year and advice to others is focus on what you want to shoot and do it from the heart. Shoot for yourself. Shoot with your heart. Find your inspiration, that crazy idea, then collaborate with other photographers, make up artists, designers and any other creatives and do something for you. For me, I didn’t start my design and photography journey just because it was a job. It was a passion and desire that came from within. When I capture a moment I feel a sense of accomplishment. I own it.

At this time of year my social media feeds are all filled with posts about the new year and resolutions. I am not one for big resolutions, more often than not I do not carry them out. I probably wont go back to the gym regularly and I wont stop eating sweets or drinking wine just because I think I should. It just isn’t going to happen. Instead, I am trying to use it to reflect upon my businesses and try and better myself for the year ahead. Hopefully, some of the below may help you too.

As creatives we all go through times of self doubt. We worry that we ‘are not there yet’ and at times this can have a reverse effect on our creative flair and passion for what we love to do. Is my work good enough? Will others like it? Is it as good as other photographers? We are all on separate journeys and have different lives. Some achieve the skill and know how straight away and achieve greatness that we ourselves may feeling we do not currently have. This should not hold you back. There is a big difference in wanting to become a better photographer and being so full of self doubt that we don’t push ourselves out of our comfort zone. I aim to make 2019 the year that I push through and progress as the type of photographer and creative I want to be. More training, practice, working towards qualifications or just being more creative. Whatever it is, make it happen this year. Believe in yourself and the work you create.

As lovely as your comfort zone may be it is your safe place. Nothing new evolves wrapped in the safety of your comfort zone so make 2019 the year to venture outside into new territory. This doesn’t mean that you have to completely change up your business, your style or your clients, however, even the best creatives have to evolve and this comes from trying something new and challenging.
It is OK to diversify your creative path. This must not to be confused with a lack of focus or completely random acts. Acquiring the skills that then allow you to succeed in multiple areas is of value for yourself and your business. It adds paint to your canvas.

This year I have already started to make plans for lots of new things I could add to my businesses. I know that some of these things may not work, however, without trying them I will never know for sure. This afternoon I received a message from a good photographer friend to organise some creative shoot days. It’s something i’ve always wanted to sort out but never got around too. It has been spoken about lots, but DOING is often different to just talking about it. If I’m honest, for me, it probably comes back to being slightly afraid to step out of my comfort zone. I know what I want to shoot but will I get it right? Will it turn out as I hoped? What will people say if it doesn’t? All of these doubts have become reasons not to plan in play days, which in turn means I don’t get to practice, experiment and learn as I go with fellow photographers.

The more I think about it the sillier it becomes and I know that in order to better myself I must continue to develop. Not only my technical skills within my creative sector but also my confidence and believe in myself that I can achieve the outcomes I desire. So…where’s that diary to pencil in some dates.

Plans are only dreams unless we can action them. When you work for yourself it is very easy to have the dreams but without action it becomes meaningless. The magic only happens when you create a plan that focuses on obtaining the results. Goals provide us the direction to move forward, the motivation to keep going, but most importantly it is a clear way for us to measure our own progress to maintain a successful business.
This year I aim to set my sights on some new goals and objectives. It is always easy to look for the end result and create that long term goal, however, without some short term goals it can often become harder to devise a plan to achieve them. Strive to go beyond what you believe you can achieve. Your goals should take you out of your comfort zone. They should be just out of reach but never out of sight, which means you will always be pushing yourself to aim higher driving you forward. Define your goal. Embrace it. Learn and develop. Achieve then move on to the next.

In a study of the art and science of goal setting, it was revealed that ‘you become 42% more likely to achieve your goals and dreams, simply by writing them down on a regular basis’. What you choose to write down will motivate you, give you time bound targets and enable you to reflect back throughout the year.

Setting goals like SMART targets (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time bound) is a a great way to do this. Targets allow you to manage your plans and evaluate your goals. Have you clearly identified a specific goal? Is your goal something that can be measured in terms of progression? Can you actually achieve it? Is the goal set relevant to your business? What time frame will you give yourself to achieve it? All of these smaller targets are great ways to remain focused on your bigger picture.
Nothing ventured is nothing gained is what they say and so true it is. Everyone fails, but if you don’t take a risk you will never know how to dust yourself off and bounce back stronger. Self doubt may still appear and you may shy back into your comfort zone from time to time, but, if you stay focused on your goals and except that not everything is straightforward you will find yourself where you need to be. As creatives, we are often self critical. Failure is sometimes depicted by us in a very different way to those that receive the end product. You do not need other peoples approval. Without risk we run the chance of never finding our how we can achieve the greatest in ourselves. Enjoy your journey and hopefully, with a bit of luck I will listen to myself this year too.

Wishing you all a wonderful journey into 2019. Lets go get this together!