I remember the first time when I said "I'm a Photographer" after being asked what I did for a living. It felt so strange yet so fulfilling. For close to 20 years I had been answering the same question awkwardly because I worked in an industry where I always felt a bit out of place. And there I was, a few years before turning 40, feeling like myself for the first time. I finally discovered what it was like to have pride in oneself.
Fast-forward to today and here I am, in the constant self-promotion, in the never-ending struggle to attract clients, in the crunching of the numbers to make ends meet... building a business is not for the faint of heart but it's such a rewarding experience. My friends jokingly wonder if I will remember them if I ever become famous and my husband wishes that I succeed so that I can early retire him. But even if those things sound enticing I really don't see them as my long-term goals.
I feel that one of the reasons why so many entrepreneurs fail in the early stages of their businesses is because they don't have a clear goal, not only for their businesses, but also for their lives. We are so focused on the return of the investment, and the profit, and the growth that we forget about the passion that drove us to starting the business in the first place. What if the goal was not to become a millionaire? What if the goal was not to achieve notoriety? What if the real goal was to become the best version of ourselves?
For 20 years I worked really hard and made a lot of sacrifices in my life without a clear vision of my future. I was just doing what everyone else was doing: pushing hard to climb the corporate ladder and helping other people's businesses grow and succeed with my own sweat and tears. But one day I got fed up, fed up with my choices and with my not realizing before that up until that moment I hadn't thought about myself. That's when I decided that I was going to become who I really wanted to be. And that is why that first time when I said "I'm a Photographer" made me feel so proud of what I had accomplished.
And yes, I want to grow my business and make it sustainable and hopefully one day be able to generate employment for other people. But that's just the plan. The goal is to be the person who is able to do that and probably much more. The goal is always Me.
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