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Why You Sometimes Just Need A Break To Think And Plan
Ok, it is early November and a dark rainy day. I have been absent from the podcasts for a while, and many of you have been asking for the podcast to be continued. So, I owe you an apology!
And yes, the podcast will be continued! Actually, I have a bunch of interviews pre-recorded, waiting for me to edit them. I am also working on a few business-related podcast topics that are in the process of being written as I speak to you here. I am excited about getting them out eventually, hoping you are patient enough for me to release that content.
This podcast is going to be a solo episode as I am using my Sunday to reflect on a few things that happened over the past few weeks. And actually, it is good practice to make this a regular habit in your life, too. I am reflecting on interactions I had, what could have been done differently – either in how I reacted, or if I might want to reconsider my point of view in a particular situation.
To be honest with you, there have been plenty of situations over the past few years, and in my current past, that made me think or even re-think my approach to interactions with people or situations I have been facing. So, taking a step back and dealing with these circumstances seemed the right thing to do for me. Now I can confirm it was the right decision.
I mean, sure some projects suffered from my absence, but I really have not been taking a break from working, just my focus has shifted a little. A lot of groundwork for future projects have been laid while I had to make decisions to let go of some ideas and to decide what to focus on.
As I said, the podcast is going to continue, but it might not be possible to follow a regular, weekly schedule as I intended to. My schedule is just too unpredictable at the moment, and I hope you guys understand that. It just means you might have to wait a little more here and there.
As of taking a break: I know there is a lot of pressure in our industry to be present on social media all the time. But don’t feel pressured by that! You must do what is right for you, and it is up to you what that is. Often, it is not the same as what works for others, which is leading us to today’s topic: Asking Yourself The Important questions.
Whether you are going through difficult times of doubt and low self-esteem or you are facing enormous challenges, we either have questions put on us externally, or we must ask ourselves the right questions for us to progress. We all go through such phases in life and business
In this podcast I will randomly go through a bunch of such existential questions, hopefully encouraging you to change your way of thinking and for you to recognize, we all have doubts, are dealing with external pressure, and we all are having a hard time to make unpopular decisions, even if we should.
Sometimes, it just needs a little push and some dedication, which starts by losing the fear of trying instead of running away.
Asking The Important Questions
And we will be talking about some fundamental questions you might have to deal with and why you should consider acting on it rather today than tomorrow. Why you should not push it to another time in your life, or why not doing things that are great only because there might be people judging you for it.
Asking these why questions can be the solution to silencing these inner voices telling us, “we can’t.”
The topics we touch today are vastly different, and I won’t even attempt to order them as life won’t hit you in order either.
Before we enter this topic, though, there are thousands of possible questions – why you should or should not do something – and they are not all alike. I want to focus on questions that either get imposed upon us or which we have internalized over time. I want to talk about questions and doubts we carry within us all the time, and which influence small and big decisions to be made. The questions that keep us from reaching our goals and living a fulfilled life.
Some of these questions come as interventions from the outside world we can immediately label as such, and others come in disguise building up to becoming habits and thought patterns that keep us from reaching our full potential in life and business alike.
Knowing these topics are often dealt with by many people, it will be these types of questions I want to focus on in this episode. Too many times, such battles are fought internally; rarely do we consult other’s opinions or speak about our small and big struggles.
But why not?
I asked myself many times why not push motivational content more often as I myself have questions and struggles to deal with. I am afraid to be judged for many struggles I do not dare to talk about publicly. I am sometimes scared not to be taken seriously. So why not talk about these questions and share my thoughts on struggles, questions, and struggles many of you might have as well.
Cause, why not?!?
Is there anything to lose? I guess not; all there is is to gain from it. Hopefully, you, as a listener, can learn from it too.
Asking Why questions can be the solution to silencing your doubtful, inner voice
We all have these voices in our heads telling us what we can and cannot do. Sometimes the negative voices can take over and keep us from even trying what we are afraid of. Asking these why questions can be the solution to silencing these inner voices telling us, “we can’t.”
From my experience to every answer to these why questions, there is an equally good response stating why you can or should do something. Or, at least the response you give to such a question can lead you to what exactly you need to improve on to overcome doubts.
So, let’s discover these together!
It is by nature for existential questions to be WHY questions, so don’t be surprised to find me discuss many of such.
Being Your Own Boss!?
Some of you are doing retouching or other creative work on the side; some of you are currently studying. Either way, you will have to ask yourself the question whether you want to do this full time or not. And if you do, if you’re going to be employed in an agency or if you wish to become your own boss. Some might straight away say, sure I want to work only for myself. Still, many will struggle with the idea, for various reasons: Either because you never grew up in a family that supports autonomy in the work-life, or because you’re your teachers are pushing you towards the idea of getting into an agency,… there are many reasons.
But even if you have started to do freelance work, you might be doubting your abilities at times. You might want to look for more comfortable options and give in to the inner voice of saying you cannot work for yourself; you cannot bear the responsibilities that come with this.
Or you are freelancing on the side but struggle with the idea of switching to full time…
Why is that?
I mean, I know, working for yourself comes with many challenges. It is never easy. Everyone who tells you otherwise must have been born with a silver spoon in their mouths and simply never went through the same struggles!
Making The Leap For Independence – Quitting Your Nine To Five Job
Speaking of becoming your own boss, how can you actually achieve quitting your job and become more independent?
There are different opinions on that. Some say you must cut ties with your past life and fully dedicate yourself to the new opportunities. On the contrary, there are valid points as to not doing that and to build your new business on the side while maintaining a safety net. And yes, both ideas come with benefits and disadvantages.
Indeed, you cannot fully dedicate yourself to two careers at the same time. One will always suffer, at least over time. But that is something you can account for in your planning. The same goes for making a hard cut. If you have the savings and built a solid plan to follow through, it is doable!
After all, it comes down to planning, and you really should make a plan if you want to switch careers. The worst approach is to start something on the side and not have a timeline and goals in place for your business to reach. Then you will inevitably end up losing opportunities in your new business endeavor as will your main job suffer from not working it with the dedication your employer deserves for compensating you.
Just don’t let other people tell you that you could not do it. You can, with dedication and an open mind to learning new skills. If you have family and friends trying to talk you out of the idea, ask for them to support you, tell them about your plans, and ask for improvements instead for them to tell you it cannot be done. If you can convince the naysayers, you are way closer to your goal than you think you are. Use their negativity to practice your pitch and your ideas, consider everything they say as feedback as to what needs improvement or refinement, so that you can benefit from them instead of letting things they say drag you down.
Acquiring Business Skills like Bookkeeping, Taxes,…
Let’s stay with the topic of running a business. Many times, I have heard from others they themselves were not convinced to be fit for running a business. And I guess everyone who is running a business can agree on this when I say, we all go through doubts to be fit for business when things don’t go as planned for a while. And when you share your struggles with friends, mostly those who are not running a business, you often get advice to look for a stable job, at least, if you are unlucky. But, indeed, running a company does not come naturally to many.
I might have been a bit spoiled as I went to business school for three straight years over the weekends. Learning about bookkeeping, taxes, and business practices was very helpful, and I can only recommend dipping your feet into those fields and to educate yourself. Having many friends who run small businesses, I have seen many who refuse to adopt these business skills, which I find is keeping them from growing their business.
I know it is not fun if you aren’t a numbernumber’s person. But it can be learned like every other skill. The reality is, more than 50% of running a business are tasks not directly related to working in your business rather than on your business.
Doing Sales For Your Business Or Freelance Career
If you are a one-man or one-woman show, you will have to do sales; otherwise you will not have a lot of business. The thought of doing sales, however, makes many of you want to run away and hide from it.
Many of us retouchers consider ourselves as introverts, and the idea of doing sales does not align with what we naturally feel comfortable with. It requires effort and to talk to people. Uhm. Who would have thought some people might actually like doing that, heh?
Benefits of being an introvert when doing sales:
Starting That Blog, Podcast, Or YouTube Channel?
We just talked about doing sales for your business. And by all means, you do not have to become a master salesperson; there are other strategies of acquiring new leads. You do not have to do direct outreach and cold calling. Maybe you can get some brand recognition using an inbound approach.
Inbound means to provide information or appeal for a potential customer to come to you. Which means, you deliver first, before asking something of a potential client.
And there are plenty of ways how this can be done, and I won’t go over all of these. But maybe content creation is one of them you feel comfortable with and suits the way you want to represent your business.
I am sure you are knowledgeable as you take on paying customers. Or maybe it is your goal to get to the point that you have customers. You can use either of these positions to create content that eventually can help to raise brand awareness and get customers. You can share your transformation from knowledge-seeker to becoming pro, or you share the knowledge you have acquired to help potential customers and to convince them that you might be the right fit to work on future projects.
Knowing many retouchers are very comfortable hiding behind their screens, there is a way of putting out helpful content for you too! YouTube is a great channel, and video is a great medium, but not all of us are comfortable with it. And you don’t have to.
Maybe it is time for you to start that blog that you have been thinking about for a year or two by now and could not get started with it. What could go wrong? At least try and see if you can do it. There is an excellent learning potential in everything new.
I am not very comfortable doing video. It is less of a skill thing and more of not feeling comfortable being in this position, the discomfort of being judged for my appearance, and the restrictions in editing I’d be facing compared to written or audio-only content.
Somehow, I then (with the help of others) gave this podcasting thing a go, and I must say, I feel much more comfortable using this medium to talk to you all compared to making this a video channel. But who knows, it could be a next step that I’d be willing to take eventually.
Networking And Being Social
I already talked about many of us retouchers being more of the introvert type. Many of us are very happy to hide behind our screens. But let me ask you this: how do you engage potential customers, and how do you get business referrals? Online, social media? Great! But have you thought about actually being active yourself apart from posting on your online channels?
It is called networking! And it is far easier than you might think! But you might still feel you are not the type to go out and talk to people. And to be very honest, I have thought the same about myself. Maybe you just need to find the right people to talk to. I always recommend going to local networking events, business meetups, and such. But there are other events more suitable for you if you are not digging the idea to meet and talk to people unknown to you.
But I am sure; there are local meetups you can quickly attend to practice. Photographer’s meetups can be such a thing. You might not be a photographer, but as a retoucher, you work in the same field, and you can easily find people to talk to. Start talking about your passion, and what interests you, what you love about photography or the field/niche you are working in. I am sure there is sooo much to talk about if you do not consider such meetups as a necessity for your business. Don’t try to sell people on the idea of working with you. Just focus on connecting with people. Find similar interests and make friends. There will eventually arise new opportunities out of it, once people get to know you.
Another great way of networking is referring to other people!
I have made it a habit with every person I get to know to connect them with someone who can help them.
How do you do that?
Well, you start by talking to these people and to have a real interest in what moves them, what they are inclined to achieve, and what they might be struggling with. The more you talk with people, the more people you will know out of different fields. After a while, your loose ‘network’ will form, and you can start referring people to each other. This approach of helping others first has led to successful business relationships for others. And in return, people will refer you back once they have an opportunity to do so! And most likely, they will talk in the highest words possible about you because you are just a great human for showing real interest and being helpful to them and their business.
Competing With The Whole World – Peer-Pressure
Speaking of social media… I feel the pressure. Just a few moments ago. I read a post in a Facebook group, whether one still should have a dedicated website or if Instagram would be enough as a portfolio.
Today I see social media mostly as something that puts pressure on me, and on many others, it does too. We are inclined to see those few who have a following as how we should behave, completely neglecting reality. People can be so fake on social media that all those numbers of their following and their virtual popularity can blind you from how successful those people are. At the same time, we feel like taking those people on as role models, thinking, if it has worked for them, it must work for us, too.
We can’t be further from the truth. Social media generally just favors a few lucky ones, and taking on advice on how to make it often results in a lot of frustration. There are so many more opportunities to grow your business without relying on social media. And there is also plenty of reasons why you should not focus on social media too much.
One of the reasons is that social media is just a tiny part of what happens online and might be very saturated already. Another reason is that you give up a lot of control when relying on social media. But to be honest, it has a certain half-life like everything. Marketers used to rely on email…back then, it worked, in times when the internet was still fresh, and everyone was super excited about having ONE single new email in their inboxes. Today this has drastically changed, and you have only a 20% or even less of a chance for your email to be read.
If you solely rely on social media, you will eventually have the same chance of being seen on social media and on top of that have to buy into their system, while you have lost all control about how you deal with potential clients. I therefore always recommend keeping a personal website where you are in control, and you own the data and insights you can gather about your visitors.
In return, this means, we should not buy into the toxic ideas that come with social media. We do not have to post there daily; we do not have to be on every platform. Just do what you feel comfortable with and what you can maintain with ease. There is, however, nothing wrong with trying new things, new ways of acquiring customers so that you get insights into what works best for you with the amount of time and the monetary investment you can make.
Helping Others Without Having Expectations?
Now, from the pressure of expectations to another topic, but still somewhat on the idea of having expectations.
When I talked about networking earlier, I said it is an excellent way for connecting other people. One does that by not having expectations for yourself and, more so serve others. I am convinced this generally is a great approach. It might be unconventional, and not everyone will see it this way. Still, I truly believe there always comes something good out of doing something good to other people while not having any expectations of getting something back in return. People will give back, but not everyone. I see it this way: everyone is facing challenges in life and is going through different phases. I f I then can help someone who is struggling, the, of course, I won’t expect anything from a struggling person. He or she might come back with something in the future when life has turned into something better for them.
But on the contrary, contributing to a change in people’s lives, which eventually will enable them to be in a position to help others, is more than enough to get back. Getting back, in this case, is just for them to keep me around and have me see the changes they go through. Such experiences are priceless to me!
For that reason, I do a lot of stuff other people don’t do that other people look down to or that people simply label as uncommon behavior. This podcast, for example, solely exists for me to give back to a community that has not many people giving out information and content without expecting a return on their investment. But hey, if this is contributing to your life, please, let me know. It means a lot.
A suggestion I can make for you and your business is just to try something similar. Do something helpful to someone, just make sure people don’t take advantage of you. Maybe you have time to do a free project every month or every two months. If so, why not looking for a very young photographer and help them out retouching an editorial series for him or her? I know it is a thing for photographers to use free retouching to their advantage. I, therefore, recommend actively looking for people who are talented and are not going into groups or other social media channels looking for retouchers, even less those who are looking to trade a story or whatnot. Look for the silent ones who might be struggling and appreciate your help. I am not saying other people do not value retouching. Just the reward of helping someone is greater if you find the silent ones who really might need a helping hand.
What To Do With People Who Say You Can’t?
So, to wrap up this topic…What can you actually do when people are getting in your way of doing the right thing. There will always be people influencing you, giving you advice and such and not always is this advice mean spirited, just sometimes, it will nurture your already existing doubts that you have to fight off to be successful.
To not drag this topic out for very long. The best advice I can give is: You know where you want to be going and you must set the milestones. Others can provide you with feedback. Still, ultimately, it is up to you to evaluate advice, how to take it, and if you have any intention whatsoever to implement external suggestions into your plans.
The way you are going to where you want to end up is most unique, and who has not walked in the same shoes hardly can guide you on the path. On the flip side, if you know of people that already have gotten where you want to be, then maybe these folks are the perfect candidate for mentorship and guidance!
Finding the right people to surround you is crucial. It is very much about how someone interacts with you and if that is helping your cause of if it does not. Nobody needs energy vampires. But uplifting people who understand what you are going through are priceless!