I had every intention of posting this yesterday, but then I got sick on New Year's Eve. Womp womp. I was really bummed that I was starting off 2015 quarantined in my bedroom (I was going to work out! I was going to blog! I was going to start off the new year on the right foot!) but then I realized that it was the perfect reminder that I can't control everything. I need to show myself as much grace as God does and, darn it, I'm determined to cut myself some slack this year!
For some time now, 2015 has seemed like a mile marker. This is the year I will turn 30 and I can feel that sense of time marching on. I've really loved my 20s (the best college years, living in Europe, an extremely loving family, loyal friends, truly experiencing independence post-college, marriage, our first home, business success, a cute cat ... SO many blessings) and for the first time, I'm a little unsure of what's ahead. I know age is just a number, but that number—and getting older really—makes me nervous.
Nathan and I have talked a lot about where we're at right now. We've decided we're in between. We still feel young but we're way past college. We see lots of friends starting families but we're not quite there yet. Our careers are moving along but we still feel like we have lots to learn. It's this in between that makes me feel slightly unsettled, grasping for something concrete and less lonely.
The past few years I've thrown myself into my business, taking on as much work as I possibly can. That caught up with me last year when I realized my work-life balance was completely off. While I love my work and feel purposeful doing it, it is still work and everyone needs a break from work now and then, right? I realized that sometimes it means more to do less.
This year's balance was better—even Nathan agreed—but there were still late nights and weeks without a break and being too busy to catch up with this friend and that family member. My wake-up call (if you could call it that) came at the end of the year when I sat up panicked in bed one night realizing that I'd completely forgotten one of my best friend's birthdays. That's not me. I value my friends, and I love to keep up with them and celebrate their milestones. Thankfully, my friend is the most gracious person on the planet and she quickly forgave me.
But ... that doesn't make it OK. I knew I needed bigger changes. I needed to ensure that I was giving the best of me at work and at home.
So, I decided to take fewer weddings in 2015. 25% less, in fact. I want to serve my clients well—SO well—and having a smaller client base will allow me to do this on an even more personal level. Remember that whole more with less thing? I've never been interested in expanding and growing my business with lots of employees until we're bursting at the seams. I want to offer a personal, relationship-based service that means something ... to the client and to me. Taking fewer weddings also means I have more time for the things that matter the most: Nathan, my family, my friends, my health, creating memories.
I discovered that I need more focused work time. When I listen to music while I work? I'm a machine. When I watch Netflix while I work? It takes me twice as long to get something done. After attending Making Things Happen I realized that I could be about 1,045% more productive with work if I just sat down and did.the.work. No messing around with my laptop, no checking my phone every 10 minutes. Eliminating distractions during work hours means I get more meaningful personal time later. It's taken me ten months, but I think I finally understand.
We've planned fun trips and activities throughout 2015 to keep ourselves energized at work. As I get older, I realize that stuff—consumerism—doesn't matter to me as much as it used to. Don't get me wrong, I still struggle with wanting, wanting, wanting, but it's the experiences that mean more to me at this stage of my life. I would go without shopping if it meant I could see a new part of the world and make memories with Nathan. I know that taking a purposeful, distraction-free break each week is crucial to me giving my very best during my "on" hours.
So what does all this mean? It means that I'm still striving to find balance, and I know I'll be working to find it for the next year, 5 years and probably 25 years. I don't have it all together. I know I'm going to fail. That's just human nature. But I hope that each time I regroup and start again, I learn a little bit more and start the teensiest bit ahead of my last reset.
It's a constant struggle: the need for perfection vs. the urge for something deeper and more meaningful. This year I will let go of this illusion of perfection and all that comes with it. I will move toward what's meaningful, even if it's not as shiny and colorful on the surface.
In light of these thoughts, my January goals are simple. And I want to hear from you: What are your thoughts on the new year? Did you set resolutions or do something different? Do you struggle with the need for perfection? How do you focus on what matters most?
Thanks for reading, friends! Today and all the other days. You make my life more meaningful!
Handwrite and mail four letters/cards to people I love
Update my new address book
Finish The Goldfinch + read two more books (Me Talk Pretty One Day and Mere Christianity)
Attempt skiing once again (and maybe try to improve upon my speed/skill)
Complete a mentoring session with a photographer I admire
Update my website galleries
Start work on a new client guide
Start a new personal photography project (more coming soon!)