Intersecting realities

I recently wrote a piece for a publication on managing one’s online persona as an important part of marketing. Seems like a natural topic for me, of course, but the (online) publication is for young/new lawyers. I was excited to write this piece, and a little challenged because I knew I needed to be aware of the alternate lexicon of the readers–that is, lawyers don’t have the same baseline understanding of marketing as commercial photographers do. I was doing my usual work, but differently and for a different audience.

Why am I bringing this up? Because it serves as an example of how reaching outside of your traditional circle is not only possible, it’s energizing. My knowledge from my photo-marketing life translates to my new lawyer-to-be life here. The intersection presents new possibilities for me moving forward. Your abilities as a photographer can transfer to a new reality for you as well.

Your existing skills open doors you probably haven’t realized or considered, but you should–new tools and techniques (hello, motion!) and, by extension, markets. Your vision is about the whole you and that has a lot of intersecting points. You have evolved with time and you have a multifaceted reality. Let your work reflect those facets, not be bound up by what you have done but rather show the complexity of the whole you, now and looking forward.

What is important to you?

Last evening I went out to a movie (L’heure d’été) with a photographer-friend. It was a nice way to spend an evening, watching a French film and talking about everything, including shop.

One thing struck me during our conversation–how important finding and getting comfortable with your own definition of success is. My friend is a very successful photographer, but as he spoke he sounded as if, while that was all well and good, he should be more financially successful because of his age, experience, and education. As he sort of put it, if he were in some other business, by his age he’d be looking at buying vacation home somewhere, etc.

It was kind of disconcerting to hear because, as I said, he is quite successful on several levels. But I think he couldn’t accept that for some reason and was pushing for more. Now that may not be a bad thing–as long as it is coming from inside of the person rather than what a person thinks s/he is supposed to be wanting/doing (and in my friend’s case I’m not 100% sure of the origin but I think it’s internal).

By that I mean that it is one thing to set your own goal of (for example) being able to buy a vacation home by a certain age, but it is quite another to set that goal because you think there is something wrong with you if you don’t–that you might be seen as a loser or something.

We each need to look at what we want out of life and prioritize. Those wants and desires have got to come from within, not the external pressures even of our loved ones. You can’t want to achieve X because maybe your spouse thinks you should achieve X, but rather because X is important to you, regardless of the outside world’s opinion(s).

Then, once you have your own priorities, you need to live up to them without shame or rationalization. Maybe your priority conflicts with the desires of someone else. That sucks when it happens, but if you change your path to fit their desires, then you are shooting yourself in the foot. You can’t be you and pursue your creative and/or career and/or life goals if you modify your path for all the external influences you face. It’s hard to be completely honest like that–people will inadvertently get hurt, but as a talented therapist I know once said “There are necessary hurts and you have to let go of the guilt when you have to hurt someone for your own best needs.”

The other side of this coin is that you have to stop judging others’ goals and priorities and/or forcing your will on them. Maybe one of your colleagues doesn’t prioritize making a lot of money but traveling is number one for her/him–don’t judge that, just accept it. And when your wants/desires/priorities come into conflict with someone else’s, don’t get too upset if you can’t make it work out. Maybe you meet a great potential life partner but you want to travel the world for months at a time and s/he wants to raise a family in a suburb. Both are legitimate goals and priorities, but if you try to make that work, one of you will be miserable. Better to be honest and draw your boundaries clearly. Yes, someone might get hurt, but we’re all grown-ups and can deal with it.

By making your own priorities from your own desires and drive, you can find more satisfaction in your work. You know when you are doing the work that takes you another step in the “right” direction. You’ll be able to deal with the clients from hell better and you’ll be able to like the face in the mirror more. So take some time to ask yourself “What is important to me? What do I really want?” then you can figure out how to get there.