How To Stop Feeling Guilty For Wanting More

You have a job that pays the bills.

You have a great family life.

You make enough to afford the fun things in life.

Your kids are happy and doing well in school.

You live in a nice house, in a nice neighborhood.

You drive a nice car.

You can enjoy your Starbucks every day.

Then why do you keep wishing for more?

And more importantly, why do you keep feeling so guilty for wanting more?

With so much in the media right now about how bad the economy is, it’s hard to not question your feelings if you aren’t facing a similar situation. If someone can’t pay the mortgage because they don’t have a job, should you really be complaining about a job you don’t like when it brings in more than enough income?

Tough it out. Hunker down. Be happy with what you have.

You’ve probably heard more than that from family and friends.

Yet is it true? Should you really be grateful for what you currently have?

The answer is yes … and no. [Read more…]

31 Questions You Should Be Asking In December

What do I want in 2012?

How did I end up where I am today?

Is this really where I want to be?

What three things are the most important to me right now?

What’s holding me back?

What don’t I believe I can do it?

What am I afraid of?

Has anyone ever tried it this way before?

What if I say yes?

What if I say no?

What is the worst that could happen?

Do I expect enough out of myself?

Do I expect too much from others?

Am I on the right track?

Can I choose a different path?

How do I define success?

Am I being too hard on myself?

What makes me smile?

How do I envision my life?

Are my goals and dreams big enough?

Have I always made the right choices?

What is the biggest major change I can make in my life?

Do I really want success?

Am I too comfortable where I am?

What do I want to achieve?

How can I make this work?

What are my options?

How can I stay motivated?

Can I make a difference?

Is all of this worth it?

What am I most thankful for in 2011?

Want To Advance Your Photography? Boost Your Creativity

Photographers are naturally the creative type, right? It’s a left brain right brain thing. And any time you are in the arts, you tend to be a bit more creative than the general population.

But overall, studies are showing that we continually are losing our creativity, even though we may be increasing our IQ and doing better on critical thinking. In fact since 1990, our creativity has decreased significantly. Yet our need for creativity is at an all time high.

Creativity controls your ideas. The more ideas you come up with, the more you’ll want to act on those ideas. And the more flexible you are, the more you’ll end up creating and inventing.

Creativity controls your ability to start a new business and take risks. It controls your ability to jump in to a new environment and play with ideas to see what will work and what won’t. And if everything has to be neat and tidy and in the right order, your chances of finding success in a completely new way continually go down.

So, is it time for you to boost your own creativity? Give these ideas a shot.

Take an art class

While I recommend a lot on this blog to head out and take a class or two, there is a difference between a small business marketing class and a pottery class. While both can help you grow, only one will spark your creativity. Get into that pottery class and get messy. Throw some clay on a wheel. Make an abstract figure. Play with the paints and get as wild as you can be. It doesn’t have to be perfect – you’ll never sell it. It’s just a way to release your inter-creativity.

Small Business Marketing

Marketing can be a lot of fun. Come up with a brand new campaign for your business – something that pushes you way outside the box. Find a book on creative marketing campaigns, talk with a marketing promotions expert, or find a class that teaches creative marketing techniques. Don’t stick with the “same old” techniques. Look for a way to completely set you apart from your competition. [Read more…]

7 Common Time Management Mistakes

So you work out of your home, and you’re wondering why the business isn’t as strong as it should be. Is your business really your top priority?

While I love working out of my home and wouldn’t trade it for anything, you have to be disciplined to make sure everything works.

Perhaps you feel overloaded, that there is so much to do you’ll never catch up. Or maybe you live for the crisis to appear, dreading it all the way. This is the first sign of failure. If you let this feeling of overwhelm seep in, you’ll quickly be on a downward spiral instead of building for the future.

Take charge now. If any of these pitfalls are affecting you now, its time to make a change.

Mistake #1 Failing To Keep A To Do List

Have you ever had that nagging feeling that you are missing something? If so, you probably don’t use a to do list in order to keep things prioritized. Many people think to do lists are a sign of weakness, or a sign of a bad memory. Not true at all. Instead, a to do list keeps you balanced and focused. And helps you prioritize what you will do during the day, and what should take precedence over everything else.

Dig Deeper: How To Create a To Do List You Actually Stick With And Do

Mistake #2: Not Setting Personal Goals

It’s easy to establish business goals. In fact you probably have a list of them in your office. Even if it’s a short list, business goals come easy as we are focusing in on our businesses. But what about your personal goals? What are your business dreams going to do to help you achieve all you want out of life?

Business goals help you establish the type of lifestyle you’ve dreamed about. But once you have the funding within the business, your personal goals are what give your life meaning. Do you want a one month family vacation every summer? Or to be able to buy your dream house? Or maybe send your kids to the colleges of their choice?

Create both sides of your dream, and use it to define what you do every day. The bigger and more concrete your dreams are, the better chance you have of achieving them.

Mistake #3: Not Prioritizing

Everyone has things they love to do, and things they hate. When your to do list is filled with both, you’ll quickly move the things you love to the top of your list – unless you prioritize.

I once worked with a business owner who hated phone calling. In fact she would do whatever she could to avoid picking up the phone. She admitted it up front to me, so we knew that was her weakness. While I never advise anyone to take up cold calling, there are times when it’s important to call “strangers” and make a connection.

If this business owner has a task of “calling” on her list, it will always be at the bottom. Even if she has to choose between “taking out the trash” and “calling the potential customer”, she would prefer the trash.

When you realize this, you have to change what you do. You have to prioritize your to do list, and start doing the things you hate if they should be at the top of your list. It’s the only way you’ll grow. [Read more…]

5 Life Balance Tips For Busy Photographers

Weekdays. Weekends. Early morning. Late at night. If you are wondering what the difference is because you have every ounce of time filled up, maybe its time to stop and put more balance into work and personal life.

With cutbacks, layoffs, and general uncertainty in the economy, people are putting in extra time in a variety of areas. But even if you have a full time job and you can’t reduce your hours, there are ways to spend more time focusing in on what is truly important to you.

Here are 5 ways to help take back the control in your life.

1. Build more downtime into your schedule

Calendars are wonderful things. With a glance, you can easily tell all the things you have to do, and whether or not something new will fit in.

The problem is we tend to use calendars for scheduling other people’s events and routines. When your daughter’s school has a fundraiser on Thursday night, it goes on the calendar. Weekly soccer practices and games go on the calendar too.

But what about an hour for a daily run? Or a night out with your spouse for dinner and a movie? Or even a Sunday afternoon lying on the couch with a good book?

We tend not to put things like this on the calendar – we’ll do it when we have time. But the only real way to make sure you have personal time to do the things you truly want to do is to schedule it. [Read more…]

How To Establish A Time Schedule You Can Live With

This post is Day 11 of 30 Ways In 30 Days To Redesign Your Life With Photography. This series seeks to provide you with practical steps to get you from wherever you are today, to exactly where you want to be – this year! If your goal has always been to take your photography to a whole new level, hang on and start enjoying a new lifestyle you’ve always dreamed of.

“I know I shouldn’t complain, but it seems like I’m always working. I have clients call at 6 in the morning, and sometimes as late as 10 at night. I meet clients in the evenings and on the weekends – really whenever they have the time, I make time for them. I want to grow my business, and stay busy too, so I hate to say no to anything. How can I get my clients on a better schedule?” Michelle

Let me ask you a question. Have you ever gone to dinner with a friend, and had them take one call after another? How did it make you feel? Did you feel your friendship was important, and that your friend was truly a friend? Or did you feel somewhat let down? After all, you took the time out of your schedule to meet, why can’t he or she?

Even if they use the line, “I have to take this call, its business, you understand right?” It still leaves you feeling a bit let down. Yet it’s almost the way of the world anymore. Everyone is connected; everyone has a phone. And with smart technology coming on full force, it’s not likely to decrease any time soon.

But there is a better way. You don’t have to be at your clients’ beck and call. You don’t have to available 24 hours a day, just because technology makes it easier. Instead of being at technologies mercy, you simply have to establish your own internal priorities, and stick to it.

Start With Priorities

If you were to list the priorities in your life, what would they be? Think about your day-to-day actions. Who and what would you put on that list? What would go at the top? For me, I would say:

  • Husband/Daughter
  • Family – mom, in-laws, siblings, etc
  • Friends
  • Health – exercise, etc
  • Business
  • Entertainment

So for me, I would drop everything if my husband or daughter needed me – they are my top priority, and I would put everything else aside. Likewise, when I spend time with them, I give them my undivided attention. Unless I’m expecting an emergency phone call, my phone is turned off and left on my desk or in my purse.

I’ve been to many restaurants where the family is all in their own worlds. The parents are texting and talking on cell phones. The kids are texting or on gameboys. We even sat next to a family a couple of weeks ago where they put the kids into the corner of the booth, and pulled out a portable DVD player, and turned a movie on for them. Really? There is very little communication going on within these families. And my daughter always comments on how sorry she feels for them. Whether we eat at home or out at a restaurant, we have lively discussions about world events, politics, education – pretty much everything.

We’ve made it a priority that our mealtime is spent together. No distractions. No outside influence. It’s our priority so that we can connect and learn about each other’s day.

What are your priorities? Have you ever thought about what you would put at the top of your list? And once you have your list, how do you nurture the items on your list?

If you put your family above your business, and you take calls during a family dinner or outing, are you really showing your family they are top priority? You aren’t putting your family at the top – you’ve now moved business to the top. If that’s your priorities, that’s fine. But if its not, then you need to start questioning how things are running.

Establish Time Periods

Once you have your list of priorities, then its important to give everything the time it needs and deserves. Even if your family is at the top, with business falling a step or two behind, you still have to dedicate time to each activity. So you learn to control what timeframes you dedicate to each priority.

Then watch how you handle each situation, and learn to put life balance steps into place.

Make your working hours convenient for you and for your clients. You may need to dedicate one night a week for clients – i.e. Wednesdays until 9 pm. Or work Saturdays until noon. Specify it. Make sure your clients know your working hours, and your family and friends know you won’t be available for them during that time frame.

But once your business hours are completed, put it all aside. When you spend Saturday afternoons at the kids soccer games, or Friday nights out with your spouse, put the phone away. You can even get different cell phones for different usage – one for business, one for personal. That way the business phone can be put on your desk until Monday morning.

Out of sight, out of mind.

Clients Will Change

If a person calls at 6 am and can get a hold of you, you’ve now established the precedent that you are available at 6 am. So they will keep calling at 6 am because it’s convenient for them. The same applies for the clients that call at 10 pm. If they call and get you, they learn to expect it.

How do you change? It’s very simple. Establish your working hours and stick with it.

I answer my phone between 9 and 3 Monday through Friday. Unless I’m meeting with a client or on another line, I will answer the phone during that time frame.

I’m usually at my desk by 6 in the morning, and pop in and out for breakfast, exercise, and bringing my daughter to school. However I will very rarely answer the phone because this is my time. I’ve chosen to work and get things important to me done during this time frame. It’s not a client timeframe – it’s my timeframe. So I don’t answer the phone. That’s my priorities. And I stick with it.

I’ve had people complain, ask about my whereabouts and even ask me to change for them. But I hold true to my timing because it’s important to me. It’s my priority. And it works.

Will I miss out on a client? I haven’t yet. I’ve never found anyone to be in an immediate emergency to hire me. When I call or email in a few hours or the next day, its usually more than ample timing, and it ultimately comes down to my business and my customer service that makes the difference anyway. And if they truly are that demanding, do you really want them as a client?

Create Your Own 24 Hour Time Span

Sit down today and list out your perfect day, and your perfect week. Let me show you an example.


  • 12 to 6 sleep
  • 6 to 7 social networking and planning
  • 7 to 9 breakfast with family
  • 9 to 3 work and client meetings
  • 3 to 6 work and planning period
  • 6 to 9 family time
  • 9 to 11 personal time
  • 11 to 12 sleep

Your week may be slightly different, which is why I suggest mapping out a week. For me, Saturdays and Sundays are 100 percent family, friend and personal time. I may schedule in some business planning time, or attend a conference over a weekend. But I never schedule business time where I connect with clients. I also schedule my Fridays a little different, as I usually incorporate personal time into my Friday afternoons.

Once you have your week in place, try not to deviate from your schedule. If you find something not working, adjust it accordingly. Then stick with it. Turn the phone off, or leave it in your office. Be present in every aspect of your day, and you’ll soon come to appreciate every piece in a newfound way.