Every year on my birthday I like to look back at what the last 365 days have looked like - what did I accomplish, what did I fail at, and what did I learn. This year somehow feels different, like there's almost no way to put into words the things that I've learned or what I've done in a tangible sense. This year was less about making visible steps to growgrowgrow and more about refining - narrowing down on the women that I serve in my business to just creative entrepreneurs & small business owners, finalizing and just starting on the small dreams that I've had for a long time like The KH Shop, and trying to be more present in my every day experiences.
I remember being 16 and working at the snack bar in the local roller rink in Indiana, daydreaming about photographing my future clients while fulfilling chicken nugget orders. I ached to to finally be a real, full time photographer - but I had no idea what that actually looked like or how to make it happen in a sustainable and enjoyable way. I thought that to be a real photographer I had to serve everyone - families, couples, engagements, etc. etc. etc. I thought that if I kept adding to my services or growing my skill set that that would make me more legit and I would suddenly become a real photographer.
I learned this year that that mentality (photographing anything that comes your way and not only what you love) is a quick race to burnout. This year I slowed down and really looked at where I was, checked in with what I was enjoying in my life and business and then started pursuing those experiences solely. I had the mentality that a lot of entrepreneurs can feel, that if I kept adding to what I do, offering more services, more styles of photography, more products - I'll become more successful. But that's not a sustainable way to run a business.
I used to think that if I refined my offerings to just what I loved doing no one would hire me, but it's proven to be the exact opposite outcome. The biggest lesson I learned this year was that I can't (and shouldn't) please everyone and that focusing on what truly fills my soul benefits me and my business as well as the incredible women who choose to work with me. I started focusing solely on women entrepreneurs in Chicago who get my goofy jokes, the ones who have big dreams and the courage to chase them, the ones who care about their own customers needs, and the ones I can remain friends with after their branding sessions are done.
Nope, I'm not where I thought I'd be as a 16 year old, but that's what is beautiful about dreams - they change and adapt over time, growing with you as your passions shift, and helping guide you towards what you want. If there's any advice I can give to you as a fellow creator, entrepreneur, dreamer and artist it's this - don't be afraid to chase only what you truly love. Get out of your comfort zone and do the scary thing you've been dreaming of, even if that's only one small thing a day.
Cheers to taking the small steps, friend.