How to Make a Decision – Part 2
By the end of March 2012 I was fully distracted by my want / need to do more travel and to learn Spanish. I had begun talking about traveling to the Galapagos Islands to volunteer and study Spanish. I had started researching organizations and schools. Just putting the feelers out, but I was still completely put in my place by my negative self-talk about it not being the right thing to do. How could I leave my business? Where would I get the money?
I started dropping hints to my mom by phone that I was interested in going away to study Spanish, but having not made any commitments, I didn’t have time frame or details, so just dropping hints! I just didn’t want to spring the whole idea of going away for an extended period of time on my parents out of the blue.
By mid-April I was packing up and heading off on my next little adventure to the Dominican Republic to photograph a destination wedding in Punta Cana. I expected the trip to be wonderful from a wedding stand point, but relatively boring from an adventure stand point. I was booked at a lovely resort, The Majestic Colonial and wouldn’t be spending much time off resort as I would be busy working. I had also promised myself to take some down time and relax by the pool or on the beach rather than packing my time full of activities. The trip turned out a little more adventurous than expected. You can check out my blog posts here for details on the fire and reminders about seeing things through other people’s eyes.
After yet another adventure in the beginning of 2012, I was addicted to travel. You could almost call me an adrenaline junkie wanna-be! ha ha ha I’m simply addicted to the adventure, but not specifically to anything that makes my heart race. In fact, I’m happy to have my heart just beat at a regular pace and keep me alive for my mild adventures!
So, after realizing that I wasn’t living the life that I wanted and becoming addicted to travel, just what would my next adventure be?
In trying to make this decision, I looked at my current life, my business and what I love. I struggled for weeks, talking to friends and colleagues about the option of going away to learn Spanish. In the end, I think what really made my decision final was that I felt the stars had aligned for the 2012 year. For the first time since starting my business in 2003, I did not have any weddings booked for the summer of 2012. For the first time, I would not be working most of my weekends throughout the summer. For the first time in nine years, this also meant I didn’t have a guaranteed $20 000 income from the summer / fall. Yikes!
I struggled a lot with this (specifically the lack of financial security)! First I started panicking and trying to drum up wedding business for this summer. As I was posting on social media, looking for couples for this summer, my heart wasn’t really in it. I felt like I was defeated because I wasn’t booked a year in advance like I had been in the past. Part of me felt like I had failed or that I wasn’t in demand any more. Then I realized that I was working against myself and fighting my own expectations. For the past year and a half I had been focused on building my corporate photography business (a purposeful decision) and had purposely stopped marketing for wedding business. It took me a couple of weeks to really get my head around it, but my business had gone exactly where I had led it. I can even remember talking to my sister and saying ‘Ok. I think I’m ok with this. I think this is just the time that I am supposed to move forward and stop marketing for weddings.’ This is what I had been working on for the past year and it just took me some time to realize I was ok with what I had set out to do. I hadn’t failed at all, in fact, I had been successful! I was now in a position where my corporate photography was the mainstay of my business and I was no longer reliant on weddings. So, why would I try to go backwards and drum up the wedding business that I had been working to minimize? Well, because weddings were my safety zone. My guaranteed income. hmmmmm …. could I survive without them? I didn’t know and I still don’t know for sure, but I decided to look at this from another angle! Seemingly all of a sudden, I have an entire summer with no pre-bookings. Scary from a financial stand point, fantastic from a personal stand point! What could I possibly do with this new found summer freedom that I had actually intentionally created for myself by making a conscious decision to focus on corporate clients instead of weddings? Funny how when you set a goal and achieve it that sometimes you forget your purpose along the way!
So, here I am, with no concrete plans for the summer, no weddings to photograph, a desire to travel, time to do so but no money, at a place in my life where I’m confused and trying to decide how to move my business forward and even contemplating if I want to continue running my own business.
So, what did I do? I made a decision to stop worrying about everything because it is a waste of perfectly good brain power and I made the decision that I would step out of my business this summer to go do something for ME. What a concept! Taking care of myself and doing something for no one else, just me. I made the decision to study Spanish (period). I hadn’t made any choices on where or how long or how I was going to make it happen, but I had been dreaming of learning Spanish and doing a home stay since 2009. Once I made the decision I felt alive. Suddenly my self-talk changed from ‘you can’t do this’ to ‘what’s the next step?’. It changed from ‘I’m tired and I’m overwhelmed’ to ‘I can’t wait. Let’s get started. How am I going to make this the best summer ever?’
Negativity still creeps in though. It is like the devil vs angel sitting on my shoulder …
Devil: YIKES! Maybe this is going to be too difficult … are you sure you want to do this?
I was already overwhelmed with business and feeling tired and stuck in my life … how could I possibly take on this huge life decision right now?
Angel: You are not living the life you want to live, so what are you going to do about it? You are going to take a risk, start an adventure, live new experiences and find your passion!
For me, the angel won the debate.
So, how do I make a decision? I use equal parts head and heart, or at least I try … and I take things one step at a time.
In this case, the heart part is going to learn Spanish as it is something I’ve been wanting to do for three or more years. The head part is making sure that it is a valuable experience, both personally and business wise for me.
How to make a decision? I think the answer is to have faith. Know that once you take that leap that you will do everything you need to do in order to make it a success. Believe in yourself.