Episode 139 – How to Start Fresh After a Disappointing Year

After 25 years in business, I’ve had my fair share of years where I’ve been disappointed in December as the year came to a close.

If you’ve been in business for any amount of time, I’m pretty sure you’ve had a year or maybe more than one where you’ve worked your booty off.

You’ve worked so hard in that business, giving it your all, and you feel you have nothing left in your tank to give, yet you’re disappointed in the results.

I’ve been there and I think part of that is what toughens us up as entrepreneurs.

But I want to share with you two tools to help that I learned from Brooke Castillo.

You’ve heard me talk about her before, likely. She owns The Life Coach School and a really fantastic podcast.

And I’m always looking for tools from all of the people I learn from that I can share with you so that you can take them and have a perspective shift in how you look at your business and at your life.

Tool #1:  The 50/50 Tool

The first tool I want to share with you, Brooke calls the 50/50 tool.

The  concept is that our lives are not going to be amazing all of the time.

They’re not meant to be. They’re literally not designed so that we’re happy all the time and we never ever have problems because think of what jerks we’d be if everything came to us so easily, money and time and beauty and gifts and perfect children and everything were easy.

It just doesn’t work that way.

50% of your life, and 50% of the time, it’s going to be in the positive  in the top half of the spectrum.

And 50% of the time, it’s going to be below that baseline where you’re living in the negative.

Either things aren’t going right or you have negative emotions or things in your life are broken or things happen to you or with you that make you upset.

So I want you to see this as a good thing. Because if we’re thinking that all we’re supposed to do is make sure that life is amazing all the time, we’re going to be severely disappointed because it’s not going to be perfect all the time for anybody. 

Without the negative, the positive isn’t as great. You want negative things to happen in your life so that when you have the positive experiences, you’re feeling so amazing. 

HOW TO APPLY THIS TO YOUR PORTRAIT PHOTOGRAPHY BUSINESS

Unless you started yesterday, you’ve already likely had some hard times in your business.

I’m approaching one month away from 25 years in business, and holy cow, I’ve had some challenges. I opened my first studio two weeks before 9/11.

I survived all the shenanigans that happened with the market in 2008 and the dot-com bubble burst, and I messed up client orders and I got hit with an unexpected tax bill, and I had some things that happened that were earth-shattering.

On the years when I’ve made good money and my net profit was up and things went smoothly, I didn’t feel guilt or shame or any of those negative feelings because I felt like, “Oh my gosh, I’ve had some really hard years and this is what it feels like to win.” 

Now that you have this 50/50 perspective shift tool, I want you to think about this and apply it to all the different parts of your life, okay?

Because it’s going to make you appreciate and feel like you deserve the success when you have it.

When you’re in one of those places where you’re below the 50% line,  it’s okay.

You’re not going to have to stay there.

You don’t have to live there. You don’t have to be there.

You don’t even have to really love it, but you also don’t have to dread it and panic and freak out because the world is coming to an end. Just know that, “Hey, I’m going to get through this, and when I get to the sunny side, it’s going to be amazing.” 

Tool #2:  Buffering

Brooke Castillo says, “Here’s a little secret, constantly feeling pleasure and happiness is not natural.”

Part of the reason for this is because we’re constantly bombarded with ways to feel pleasure.

You should go eat something, you should go buy something, you should go drink something, you should go pay for something that will bring you pleasure.” 

When we feel ourselves  getting below that 50% line, we think, “Oh, my gosh, we’ve got to make it better.”

And we look around for these things so that we don’t have to feel the bad feelings.

We want to numb those bad feelings with something, anything, sugar, alcohol, shopping, gossip. 

Where are you buffering?

When things get hard in your business, do you go mind-numbingly search social media? Are you going from kitty video to kitty video and just passing the time because you don’t know what to do and you’re just trying to get out of pain?

Do you go to food, sugar? I know I do that sometimes.  Caffeine or  alcohol? 

Know that it’s okay to be frustrated in your business or to be disappointed that something didn’t work out or you feel you failed a client or you did something wrong, or you just aren’t cutting it and you aren’t making the money you want.

It’s okay to feel those thoughts. You don’t have to buffer and numb them with something that’s really not making the situation better in the long run. 

HOW TO APPLY THIS TO YOUR PORTRAIT PHOTOGRAPHY BUSINESS

Step 1: recognize where you’re buffering.  What do you do in your business when things go hard? Where do you turn to numb the feelings of inadequacy or sadness? There’s something you do. We all do!

Step 2: think about, “What can I do instead?” You could go for a walk. You could put on soft music and read 20 pages of a book.

You could jam loud music, you could dance, you could have an accountability partner, a friend who you text when you’re feeling this way, and that person texts you when they’re feeling that way so that you can get each other in a better place.

 I’ve trained my students in my programs to have what we call a tenacity journal, a place where they go that they fill full of positive sayings, testimonials, and success stories, and gushing letters from clients, drawings and love letters from their kids and their family, and just positive self-talk so that they can remind themselves, “Look, you know what to do.”

And then, of course, my students who are in my programs actually have the tactics and strategies to go implement so that they’re not guessing.

But they have to get themselves above the 50% line.

When you’re buffering, you’re finding a way to take that current discomfort away, but it’s not moving anything forward and it’s not helping the situation at all.

It’s just putting you out of temporary pain. And I want you to know that in business, I’d rather you say, “Okay, I realize that I have these feelings because…” 

Figure out why you’re having those feelings, likely because you’re guessing in your business, you don’t have a program, you don’t have a mentor, you don’t have a system, and all of those things are fixable.

That’s the good news. Buffering when you’re below that 50% line and you’re just looking for a dopamine hit is not the solution that’s going to make your life better. 

NEXT STEPS

I hope these two tools come in handy for you because it’s okay to have negative feelings and emotions. Something else that other mentors of mine have taught me is that you never want to take an action when you’re below the 50% line.

When you’re frustrated or angry or feeling sad, any action you take is going to boomerang back at you as another negative reaction.

If you’ve ever texted a spouse or a partner or a family member when you’re in a cranky mood, it doesn’t come back to you with love. So be responsible for yourself. 

Own your decisions, own your feelings, own that you’re in a negative place and that’s okay.

And then you also have tools to sit in that place for as long as you need to, and then you have tools to get yourself out of that place when you’re ready.

Don’t put it on someone else. It is not other people’s job or responsibility to control your emotions. That is on you. 

It’s  okay to be disappointed in how your year turned out, but it’s not okay to drag that disappointment into the new year, give up, or jump on a downward spiral of guilt, beating yourself up, shame and blame, anger, jealousy, depression, and all those negative feelings that come with it. 

Do what you need to do to get yourself to a space where you can get above that 50% line. Get yourself up there and then dig in and freaking fix the things that are broken. 

I want to give you hope today because here’s the thing, many of my best years in business have come on the heels of my worst years. I think sometimes things have to get really bad for us to stop settling for being broke, and for living in this place that we are not happy.

That’s where motivation comes from, right? Motivating ourselves to make the changes we need to get the life we want.

I’m rooting for you so hard, and I hope that you have a ticket to Go Boutique Live this year. It’s February 28th to March 2nd.

It is virtual, and it’s all things for boutique photographers to get you in the right headspace to crush this year. Tickets are on sale right now at goboutiquelive.com.

Go get this amazing price while you can. And listen, it is so much easier when you have a community and a mentor, and a program to help you keep accountable. There is never a better time.

Download the Episode Transcript Here

Working photographer, coach, mama, and wife. Whether you’re looking to take your photography business full-time or simply make good money on a very part-time basis so you can contribute to your family financially and be your best self, we’ve got something for you.

I’m Sarah Petty

Hey, there!