In January, I launched a new portrait series called “A Mother’s Work” which features female entrepreneurs who are also mothers. The idea for this series quite literally came to me in a dream one night a few years ago and I’m so excited to finally be devoting energy to making this dream a reality in 2019. In the last two months, I have already met so many wonderful inspiring women and look forward to those I will be meeting in the future. The positive feedback I have received about this project has been amazing and I can’t wait to share more!
One thing I did not expect when I started the series, however, was the amount of comments and questions people would send me about my OWN journey to becoming a photographer. You may or may not know that I used to have a career as an analyst in investment management. I worked in the corporate world for 15 years before making the leap to full time photography! So many people have asked me questions about this switch: Was it scary? How’d you plan for it? What are the things that have helped you succeed the most? Do you wish you had done anything differently?
Career Change to Boston Newborn & Family Photographer
Because I’m on the other side of this big life/career change, I thought it might be helpful to jot down some things down that I think were most helpful in achieving my goal of becoming a full time photographer. I certainly don’t have all the answers, but having owned my own business for almost 9 years now I do have a few solid ideas about things that are helpful in achieving your goals
1. Talk about it. A lot.
I think this is the single biggest way to start making your dreams come true. At first it might feel weird to speak out loud about your secret dreams, but I promise you the more you talk about it, the closer it will come to reality. Even if you are still a little hesitant, you have to do it. Just start with a close fried. Or your Mom. The more you talk about it, the more you will start to feel comfortable with your ideas and eventually you will start to be more confident in your dream coming true. AND the best part? When people know what you’re working toward, opportunities will start to appear!
I remember when I first started thinking I wanted to be a photographer, I mentioned it my friends and family first. Soon I was photographing their babies and kids for practice. I did pro bono work for a friend’s nonprofit because she knew I was interested in expanding my portfolio. I learned so many valuable lessons during that time about photography, but also about working with people, editing images, being organized, etc. None of this would have happened if I kept my big dream a secret.
2. Make a plan and write it down everywhere
There are number of different ways you can make a plan to achieve your goal, but one thing is for sure — if you only talk about it and don’t actually do anything, you are not going to meet your goal! duh!
- To start, sit down at the computer (or if you’re like me, at the desk with pen and paper!) and just start writing. Don’t worry about spelling, grammar, or being too organized with your thoughts. Set a timer for 5 minutes and just write. This is called ‘free-flow writing’ and a highly effective way to brainstorm your ideas. Don’t stop until the timer goes off. Write about your dream, with details big and small, write about what it looks feels like to achieve your goal, write about what you want your life to look like in 1, 5 or 10 years when you’ve achieved your goals, make a list of steps you could take to get there.
- If you are a highly visual person, it might be helpful to make a ‘vision board‘ that is a collage of all the things that you goal looks like. Hang it somewhere prominent where you will see it every single day!
- Hang up sticky notes everywhere to remind you of your goals! Motivational quotes on the bathroom mirror are acceptable and encouraged!
- Once you have written down your goal and a rough plan for reaching that goal, break it up into smaller goals. Keep breaking it up until you have at least one action item for each week.
3. Seek Inspiration and Advice
One big thing I have realized in the last two decades of soul searching and dream chasing is that most people are more than willing to help you out; all you have to do is ASK. If you are thinking about a new career, find someone in that career and ask them to have a phone call with you or to meet up for coffee! Pick their brain and ask tons of questions. Dedicate a journal where you take copious notes on things you notice and learn. Even better, go on a job shadow with someone. This is really the best way to figure out what how it feels to do this job!
I know podcasts are certainly not a new thing, but I personally just started getting into them about 2 years ago and they have introduced me to so many amazing people that have literally changed my life! The best part about podcasts ( besides the information and inspiration they provide ) is that you can listen to them almost anywhere ( unlike a book where you read three pages and then fall asleep or are interrupted by your kids!). Podcasts in the car, podcasts while out for a walk, podcasts while cooking dinner, podcasts while doing laundry, the options are endless. A few of my favorites right now:
- RISE – Rachel Hollis
- How I built this – NPR
- Goal Digger Podcast – Jenna Kutcher
- SuperSoul Conversations – Oprah
- Leadership Podcast – John C. Maxwell
4. Hang out with the right people
There is nothing worse than excitedly talking about your dreams to somebody only to have them frown at you and point out all the things that could wrong with your plan, or roll their eyes and you know they are thinking ‘that will never happen in a million years’. The older I get, the more I realize life it too short to spend time with people who bring you down. Obviously, it’s not always possible to eliminate every single negative person from your life, but you can be sure to focus your energy on being with people who are supportive or have similar ideas about motivation, goal-setting and most importantly goal-achieving!
If you don’t know any highly motivated people already, join a local networking group or a business association that will keep you motivated and accountable for the goals you are setting. Or, take it to the next level and find a mentor that will help guide you on your path.
What on earth does exercise have to do with reaching your goals? Well, pretty much everything. It’s impossible to reach your goals just by sitting in your office day in and day out working. You MUST take breaks. You must maintain good health or what is the point of all this goal chasing anyway?
- Find an exercise that you love to do or someone you love to exercise with. Preferably both.
- Make a plan to exercise a few times a week and write it in your calendar, just like you would a dentist appointment. No excuses.
- Mix it up a bit. My recent favorites include:
- Mamabeasts (awesome workout, amazing community in the Greater Boston area — try two classes for free using the coupon code CARA )
- Hot Yoga – super hot and sweaty cleansing workout. Try Tara Morris in Wellesley. She is ah-mazing.
- Cyclebar – this is new for me and I’m loving it! Fast paced, challenging, great music. win win win!
- Fitness Blender – home workouts for the days you can’t make it to a class. Super customizable workouts – you choose the time, difficulty and equipment.
6. Track your progress
I love to keep my old calendars and to-do lists. From time to time, I love to peruse all those checkmarks and items crossed out, reminding me of exactly how many tedious items I have completed on this path to entrepreneurial success! The same goes for your goals, big and small. it’s easy to feel overwhelmed or get lost in the day to day. Remind your self every now and then how far you’ve come!
7. Clean up your act
No, I’m not talking about your clothes or your manners, I’m talking about your house! Studies have shown that clutter in your workspace and in your living space makes you distracted, anxious, frustrated and even depressed! Before you tackle your goals, you need to Kon-mari the heck out of your life.
8. Just start.
Have you ever heard that phrase: “Perfect is the enemy of done”? I can’t think of any truer words when it comes to chasing your dreams. The timing is never going to be 100% perfect and the website is never going to be 100% done and the prep work is never going to be 100% complete. You just need to pick a task and start with it. Pick an item on this list and just do it. Find a mentor, have a brainstorming session with your notebook, make a plan, reach out to that local networking group. The first step is definitely the scariest and the hardest, but once you start it will get easier, I promise!
Cara Soulia is a Boston Newborn & Family Photographer who specializes in capturing your most special memories in a beautiful and natural way. See more of Cara’s work on the blog or get in touch to find out more about scheduling a portrait session for your family!