Gut instinct. So often we ignore it and do what others tell us we should be doing, molding ourselves into a box we just don’t fit inside. I say fuck the box. Get out there, listen to your gut, and breathe it all in.
So many business experts preach that, in order to be successful in running a business, you have to specialize in one area. I call bullshit!
When I was hip deep in running a photography business, every business class I took (with extremely successful photographers turned business coaches) repeated the same mantra “you must specialize to be successful”. I wasn’t nearly as successful as they were, but I wanted to be, so I ignored my gut instinct and followed their advice.
There were some glaring issues with their teachings (that I won’t even get into here because, seriously, there are too many to even touch on), but at the time I ignored my intuitive doubts in my hungry pursuit to be great.
I just wanted to be like them, so I followed their models and narrowed my focus from a wide range of photography to Wedding, Family, and Boudoir and, eventually, to just Boudoir. I trusted that if I specialized like they advised, I would find extreme success. After too many years of struggling (and still ignoring my gut instinct) to make the specialization work and being ridiculously bored and stagnant because of such a narrow focus, I couldn’t breathe anymore. I was forced to give myself a harsh reality check and completely revamp my career goals, but it was during this much-needed revamp that I had a huge epiphany.
Why should a person, like me (who has developed such a wide variety of skills in my 42 years and has such a huge amount of creative energy), have to narrow down anything in order to be successful? Why should I limit myself to only one kind of photography or, even better, to ONLY photography, just because others say that is the only way I will find success?
I finally just said fuck it to that line of thinking. It certainly wasn’t working for me and it was stifling, so I decided to toss it out and start from scratch. I took stock of all my skills and choose the ones I was both best at and enjoyed the most and allowed a business to naturally develop around them.
The way I saw it, if I wanted to be a photographer and a writer and an editor and many other things (because I was good at all of them), that’s exactly what I was going to be.
I’m just not made to fit into any kind of box.
It’s now April and I am currently still shooting (weddings, families, boudoir, commercial…whatever I fancy), writing (blogs and articles for other businesses and myself), editing (two novels), AND marketing social media for some local businesses in the Health & Wellness industry.
And guess what? I’m killing it! I’m not even remotely specialized now. In fact, I’m all over the fucking map and I have never felt so strong and confident in my work or so motivated and challenged.
- My brain is happy with the constant stimulation;
- I am still shooting hilarious and interesting people;
- I am constantly increasing my knowledge of all things social media marketing (and understanding how much easier it is to market someone else’s business than my own);
- I have learned how to build effective, kick ass websites;
- I can read Google Analytics and Facebook/IG insights like a boss (and apply them to my marketing campaigns and Ads);
- I am learning how to adjust my editing from the proper English of my youth to the modern English we are now immersed in (and, trust me, this is a tough but satisfying experience for me); and
- I am earning money doing a bunch of different jobs, all of which I thoroughly enjoy.
Basically, I’m following my gut and heart and pursuing ALL of the things I love the most and I’m finally able to let my creative lungs fully expand.
So my message to all of you peeps out there–who are feeling stuffed into a box that just doesn’t quite fit–is to listen to your gut, not the so-called experts, to be able to take a fully freeing, creative breath again.
Fuck the box. Get out there and breathe it all in.