PPMT President’s Message-November, 2017
By Donna M. Butler, PPMT President
It’s that time of the year again and the holidays are just around the corner along with the cold weather. A brisk chill in the air invigorates some while the thought of another approaching winter puts others on hibernation alert. Some of us look forward to this time of year with great excitement and others with great dread. And, many of us are in desperate need of motivation to push through. We all have days where we just don’t feel like doing anything. It’s raining out, we didn’t get enough sleep, it’s cold, we’re hungry, we had an all-around crappy day, the dishwasher, car and HVAC unit all died at the same time, whatever. We’ve gotten through stuff before and we’ll get through it again. And the thought of adding holiday shopping to the already crazy mix, with the extra traffic and crowded stores, can bring out the Grinch in the best of us. It’s these moments when we just want to curl up despondently on the couch and escape from reality.
Life isn’t easy…business isn’t easy……photography isn’t easy… and success isn’t easy. It takes lots of hard work, strong determination and pushing through. How many times have you put off something you really needed or wanted to do because you just didn’t feel like doing it? Probably too many times to count. Perhaps you feel overwhelmed which can cause a physical and mental paralysis in getting anything done. Maybe you are just disorganized, mentally cluttered and need to get your act together. We have to ditch the excuses and find solutions. We just can’t give up when things get busy or difficult. We have a living to make, pictures to take and have to push through.
And, it’s perfectly fine and, in fact, necessary to take some time off every now and again to rest up, enjoy your family and hobbies. Give your brain a break from work, electronics and social media and build some down time into your day. Rest, recreation and recuperation are vital to a balanced, healthy life and should be incorporated into your schedule.
Maybe you need to find a way to simplify and clarify the things you need to happen in your life. I believe setting a schedule and daily routine are very powerful and necessary in the life of a creative entrepreneur. You can’t always wait for motivation or inspiration to strike in order to produce. And it’s not even about the hustle. We work hard but do we work smart? Most successful people don’t rely only on motivation or inspiration or even a random spark of genius, but rather, on a consistent mastering of daily habits to achieve creative success. If you don’t have a schedule, it’s really easy to get stuck and avoid doing any work at all. And, it’s ok to create some junk or less than stellar work along the way. If you show up every day, you will eventually excel which will encourage you to push through and keep moving forward.
Similar to having a set schedule, I like to make lists…they keep me on track. (I use a small 7” x 5” notebook to journal). Here’s how: make a list of all your “to-do’s” and arrange them in order of priority (I am definitely not a great time manager or productivity expert, so I like to get the tasks that take the least amount of time out of the way first when possible). Decide on at least three things you want to accomplish that day and what actions you need to take to get them done. Focus on one task at a time. Multi-tasking is for the birds, if you ask me. Then, just start doing! Try not to get distracted until you finish the task. Put on some upbeat music if you need motivation.
Getting started is everything, and once you’ve accomplished one small task, you’re ready (and excited) to tackle another…and then another. If you need to take a break in between, set a time limit and stick to it. Sometimes you just have to step away and take a deep breath. Do something fun or take a walk around the block. If you just can’t muster the wherewithal to accomplish much, and we’ve all had “those days”, try and do just one thing. Commit to just ten minutes…enough time to accomplish one small task. Even if all you did was ten minutes of work you still knocked out one small task. This really works! High motivation is a result of repeated success and low motivation is a result of prior failures. When you start to see your accomplishments, you’ll want to get more done.
Next, check the tasks you have completed off your list. Review and update your list frequently. Each night, I take a couple of minutes to think about and reflect on the day. I’m not a morning person and don’t have the desire or discipline to get up at 4 AM to have the quiet, solitude or focus I need for effective prioritization. So, evening works good for me.
I look at the “wins” I’ve had throughout the day — these are things that I’ve done well based on my priorities. This makes me feel good about what I did that day and going to bed each night with at least one win under my belt gives me optimism for tomorrow.
I also look at the “losses” I’ve had — these are the areas where I’ve blown it or didn’t accomplish what I set out to do. This helps me recognize what I can do better and also helps me push through with a positive attitude.
Then I revise my list and set my priorities for the next day — the top three things that I want to accomplish tomorrow. I would rather do small things on a consistent basis than to try and take on too much and fail. Small wins and little accomplishments consistently, over time, add up to big returns.
On a side note, sometimes “life” gets in the way…circumstances happen, and we have to be flexible but pushing through doesn’t mean pushing to exhaustion. It doesn’t mean getting on the preverbal hamster wheel of life, not getting any rest or getting sucked into the rat race. It doesn’t mean working 18-hour days…day in and day out, ignoring your family or neglecting your needs. And, it doesn’t mean not giving yourself grace during difficult times. It does mean doing your best, defining your purpose, overcoming laziness, getting motivated, challenging yourself, using success systems and resources, and having the discipline to plan and stick to a schedule or, at least, make a list.
I hope these tips help you. You know, you can get more great tips and free education from the top photographers and business professionals in the industry when you join the Professional Photographers of Middle Tennessee. We are committed to your success. If you would like to become a PPMT member, we’d love to have you join us. Our memberships are extremely affordable, and the value far outweighs your membership dues. Visit our website and sign up here.
Our next opportunity to mingle and learn this month is at our regular monthly meeting on Tuesday, November 14th featuring Al Gordon. His program is “Marketing Your Personal Projects to Build Your Wedding Business”. I hope to see you there.
In the mean time, here’s to “Pushing Through”…
Donna Butler, PPMT President