I am currently working on losing some weight. I would like to lose 9 pounds with the goal of a pound a week. I have lost 2.5 pounds, which puts me right about at the same weight I have been for eight years, aside from pregnancies. It’s a healthy weight and I look fine, but I’m at the weight because it is easy to maintain and tough to go below. Still, I know that I feel better when I weigh a little bit less and am exercising a little bit more so I have decided to set a goal and stick to it. After my first week of exercising and watching my weight, I lost 2 of those 2.5 pounds. I was pretty excited. I kept up with my routine, ate well, exercised a ton and when it came to week two, I was excited to step on the scale. When I got on, rather than the pound plus loss I was expecting, it was half a pound. I was disappointed initially and determined to try harder, but quickly that turned into thoughts of changing my goal to fit reality and making things easier on myself. For a bit I decided that the goal of weight loss wasn’t a big deal and I should just be happy with extra toning. During those two days, rather than continuing with my same routine, and just focusing less on a number, I found myself caring less about my workouts and my diet. I still exercised, but without as much intensity and I had a few more bites of cookies than I had the weeks before. It quickly became apparent to me that by changing my goals because they were hard, I was really just giving myself permission to be lazy and give up a little bit. I had decided that comfort was more important than results.
With this realization, I decided to figure out what I could change that would maximize my chance of success. Maybe skip donut Saturdays for a bit and try and cut my portions a little more. This wasn’t coming from a point of deprivation or shame, but from an objective viewpoint of placing my goals at the forefront and determining the actions needed to achieve them. With that realization I stepped up my game and returned to working hard and doing even better than I had been before. I will continue to reevaluate what it will take to meet my goals and take those actions necessary because my goal of being my best self in my body is worthy and worth my time.
Aside from this health goal, I have a pretty big goal for my photography. In the next year I would like to transition completely away from client work. While client work is fine, it is not where my heart lies and I find that the limited time I have, when spent on client work, limits my growth as a photographer. I want to become the artist I can be and this is a big step towards that. That goal is completely contingent upon making money with my photography through other avenues such as stock photography, our upcoming magazine, gallery profits and mentoring. I’ll tell you where I am at the moment with money made from these other avenues. I am squarely at zero. I have not sold a single photo on Offset, our magazine is not yet published, and I haven’t yet launched my mentoring program. I have been feeling like my goal is impossible and I should probably find one that is more realistic. Realistic is good. It’s comfortable and maintainable, much like 152 pounds is for me. So I’ve thought about doing client sessions a while longer and letting the other things just happen in their own due time.
The problem I’ve run into, however, is that I then find myself in the same place as with my health goals. Taking away a solid and big goal makes it really easy to get lazy. I am confident in myself and my abilities, so why am I so quickly managing my expectation and, in essence, telling myself I’m not worth it? Why not be daring? Why not be brave?
I have decided to keep my original goal in full force and am taking steps to reach it. I entered my first juried show. I don’t know what the outcome will be, but without submitting, there is a zero percent chance of success. Today I Skyped with a photo licensing company in Hamburg who are interested in my work. I cannot know the future and if anything will come from this, but I am exploring every avenue that comes into view and seeking out alternatives when they fail. I am confident that if I put in the effort, my goals will be reached. If progress is slower than necessary, I will reevaluate and see what more I can do because I am worth it and my journey as an artist is worth it. I know for a fact that I will never say, “Oh, I wish that I would have spent more time taking client sessions”, but if I don’t move in my new direction, I do fear myself saying, “I wish I would have reached my highest heights in my art, but I was too busy taking family sessions”. To me, that is enough to make all efforts worth it. Eventually a pot will boil and there will be success, but until that comes, I will work tirelessly to find it.
So I ask you, what are your goals with your photography? Are they realistic or big? If they are realistic, I implore you to change your thinking and dream big. We are worth it and we have the talent and skill necessary. As we work harder, we will only get better and come closer to our goal. The one rule is this: If we fail, we are not allowed to shame ourselves. We can be disappointed, but we are not failures. Instead we can remain proud in our efforts and keep moving forward.
I am excited for my goals and I am excited for yours. There will be countless bumps along the way, but I am choosing to be brave and overcome my fear of those trials. I am choosing growth over comfort and one day, if we do all that we can, we will achieve our goals and more. So, when the going gets tough, don’t just dip your toes in the water and back out because you decide it’s too cold. Follow my daughter’s example in these photos. Take off your pants (that part is optional) and run in.
Amanda Voelker is a fine art and lifestyle photographer, focusing on capturing the fleeting moments of childhood. She is currently located in the Seattle, Washington area. With her children and light as her inspiration, Amanda finds beauty in the everyday and is constantly amazed by all the wonder in her life. She strives to capture the subtleties of human emotion and connection in a beautiful way that showcases both the moment and a piece of herself. Amanda is also the co-founder of 30 Minutes in the Life. Aside from photography and family, Amanda is passionate about the ocean, seeing the world, diet coke, reading, and chocolate. You can find more of her work on her website and facebook