This is a big week.
#1 – I should be a dad again by the weekend and
#2 – it’s the first time in 11 years that I am not employed by the public school system.
I’ll discuss #1 later this week after baby Zoe arrives. As far as #2 goes, I haven’t discussed this much on the blog, but I think it’s been pretty common knowledge that this past year was my last year teaching. So this is officially my first Monday as a full time photographer and as a retired public school teacher (for those of you that didn’t know . . . consider this the official announcement). It feels a little strange and I must admit it’s a little bitter sweet (more sweet than bitter but nonetheless . . . ) I was privileged to teach for 10 years in a wonderful school district with awesome students, supportive parents and great colleagues and friends. If someone had told me even a few years ago that I would be retiring from teaching to pursue a different career path, I never would have believed them. I truly thought I’d be in the school system for 30 years until retirement age, but this just goes to show that you never know what direction life is going to lead you. I have been sooo incredibly blessed in my life to be able to make a living doing the things I love while working with fun, creative people.
The decision to leave teaching and go full time as a photographer was not an easy one to make, but I feel confident that it was the right one. The photography thing was never intended to be full time when we started, but it just took off like wild fire in a way that I never could have imagined. Now don’t get me wrong, the spark that ignited the wild fire didn’t just start on it’s own. I’ll toot my own horn for a moment and admit that I have put in 2 solid years of very hard work (many 16-18 hour days) to get to a point where I could leave teaching to support my family on my own and have the freedom to work when I choose to. In hindsight, it was all worth it. And through this journey, I have realized several things about myself and about life and about my career and hopefully I am becoming a better person in the process.
#1. Work is still work. I once heard somebody say, “If you make a living doing something you love, you’ll never work a day in your life”. Well that’s a lovely little saying that might make the ready feel all warm and fuzzy inside, but I must admit it’s complete B.S. I love both music and photography and yet there were still days that I went to “work” and felt like I was “working” . . . quite hard in fact. Granted, doing something you love will make the work more enjoyable (or at least more bearable), but it will still be work if you want to be successful.
#2. Success is useless if you can’t enjoy it. How often do we (as human beings) sacrifice our family or our health for what we perceive to be “success”? Luckily, my wife is very supportive and my son is still very young so I don’t feel like I’ve sacrificed my family for the sake of my new career but I have sacrificed my health. In the last year alone I’ve put on 70 lbs. because I haven’t made the time to exercise or eat right and in some ways, that has tainted the success of my photography (I’m just being honest here). So what lies ahead? Balance! Granted, having only one full time job (as opposed to two) will make that a lot easier, but I can’t use my schedule as an excuse anymore. It’s time to take care of myself in addition to my business and find ways to balance family, health and career!
#3. Freedom or Security: what do you value most? This question was the key motivator that pushed me to work so hard toward my goal, but incidentally it was the factor that made it the most difficult for my wife to come to terms with it. I once read in a book, “the more security you seek, the less freedom you have” (or something to that effect) and then the author went on to say “What do they call it when you lose ALL of your freedom? Maximum Security Prison!” For me, freedom became way more important than security. The security of a steady paycheck and insurance and retirement, etc. wasn’t nearly as important to me as the freedom to be with my family and set my own schedule and vacation when I want, etc. This is where my wife and I differ. For Rachel, she prefers structure and would be happy in a routine, 9-5, M-F job just to know that there was a steady stream of income. I, on the other hand, am quite the opposite. We just have very different personality types in this respect. Neither is right or wrong. They’re just different, but that’s great because we balance each other out. In the end, what really matters is not whether you choose freedom over security (or vice versa) but that you are happy in your decision. I believe I am.
Thank you to all of the people who supported our business during the “start-up” phase and for believing in me even when my work was . . . well . . . less than stellar. Thank you to those of you that still support our business. I truly appreciate you not only as clients but as friends and wonderful human beings. We have great things planned for the future so stay tuned! (thanks for listening to my rambling today)