Life, lately: An open letter to 2017.
I heard the word, "accountability" being used a lot. Maybe its because I've been watching way too much Real Housewives of Atlanta and they tend to throw the word around like -- well something that is thrown around a lot (ahem, Porsha). "You need to take accountability for your actions!!" "Ooh girl, lemme sip on that tea." "You need to be held accountable for what you did to Kandi!"
ac·count·a·bil·i·ty: the fact or condition of being accountable; responsibility.
Is this a hint, 2017? Are you telling me to be accountable for my resolutions? I think in the past, I focused on resolutions that were a bit unattainable and ridiculous (like buying an alpaca). 2018 is the year of accountability and self-improvement in regards to my health, wellness, finances and business.
Health and Wellness.
2017, you were great to me as far as my photography business and I hope it will continue growing. Because of this, I struggled with saying no to projects out of fear of disappointing people. My health suffered. My anxiety and stress level were through the roof and I found myself in a major depressive slump. 2017 taught me how to say no and really focus on what brought me joy. It opened up a strength in me that I didn't know I had and allowed me to give 125% percent to people I work with. I am always still improving either on my photography or food styling. In 2018, I plan to work on more projects and people that bring me joy. When I enjoy who I work with and what I do, I perform better.
I've learned mental health is absolutely beneficial. When my anxiety is at its highest, I'm constantly looking for ways to calm myself down which in turn, gives me anxiety. Implementing a workout plan is needed. It could be something light like a morning walk with my dog or setting my alarm 30 minutes earlier to get a quick yoga session in to focus on my breathing. Also, at the risk of sounding like a total space cadet, starting a gratitude journal has helped me. The Five Minute Journal by Intelligent Change has been great. Sometimes, we get caught up in the meaningless, unimportant negatives in our lives (didn't get the job, can't afford the vacation, can't afford a new handbag...) that we forget to be gracious of everything we have in our lives already.
My plan: 1.) Continue to focus on projects that bring me joy and work with people who will inspire me to improve. 2.) Implement more of a workout routine into my day whether it be walking my dog in the morning before work or 30 minutes of yoga in the evening. Continue working on my gratitude.
2017, you were a wake up call.
I have to get my butt in gear. Lets be honest. My finances are crap. Side photography business aside, I work a full time job and pay all bills on a small salary. I live paycheck to paycheck (like majority of Americans) and saving is difficult. Usually, after all my bills and utilities are paid, I rarely have enough to splurge. Sometimes I have to pay bills with my credit card which doesn't help my credit score and usage.
Lately, the money I have been earning on my photography gigs has been going into a separate checking account. I try not to use it unless for an emergency but sometimes I have to dip in it to pay a bill or two but seeing the amount (slowly) grow in this account has really motivated me. I also set aside $100/wk via direct deposit so I don't see it.
I decided to print out my checking account statements for the past few months. Where has my extra money been going to? Food. Usually because I forget to pack my lunch (or refuse to wake up earlier to do it) and I have to run and grab something during the afternoon which isn't exactly economical. Clothes. I have so many clothes that go unworn. My work requires me to wear jeans, closed-toe shoes and my shirt colors must be either white, gray or black. Solids. No stripes or patterns. So when I casually walk into a store, I usually buy things I would love to wear on my days off when in reality I continue to wear... jeans, solids tops in black, white or gray.
1.) I've decided to implement a capsule wardrobe and focus on staple pieces that will work all year long in neutral colors. This will keep me from impulsive purchases. Lets see how long this lasts. 2.) Really make a point to stick to my weekly meal plans and take lunch to work. Working in the food industry means being able to run downstairs and make a quick purchase but all those small purchases add up and make a dent in my checking account. 3.) Set aside $100 - $150/wk in a different checking account and use only for emergencies or something to splurge on (like a trip or those snazzy Formula 1 experience packages when they come to Austin.) It's okay to treat yourself every now and then.
2017, you were so kind to me.
Like I mentioned above, you have been so great to me in regard to my food photography/styling business. I hope 2018 will continue to grow. To be quite honest, I have no clue how to run a business. I just loved learning new recipes, taking pictures and styling food which is how this whole thing started. I never thought I would meet the people I have or collaborate with some awesome agencies and brands. When I think of my side business, the possibilities are endless. I plan to incorporate videos, more collaborations and improve my skills - not like Liam Neeson skills but photography skills.
All this hands-on learning has taught me more about business than I have ever known. I can't wait to see how my side business continues. One thing I'm always trying to do is to improve. I want to be better. I want to create better products and I hope my passion will show itself in my photos or collaborations. I plan to push myself to keep moving forward and you never know, maybe one day I can call my passion my full time job. Until then, improvement is key. Focus is the goal and accountability will keep me in check.