I did it! I failed. I went from 24 weddings in 2018 to 19 for this season. My goal was 20 and I failed. So what happened when I didn’t reach my goal? Not much. To be honest I kind of expected my career to fall apart and the world to crumble around me. But you know what? My career is still there and I’m doing ok.
I’m a goal setter. Each year in my off season I look at my books from the previous year and plan out how I want to do even better. My goal for 2019 was 20 weddings. A goal I thought would be hit by the end of January, but here we are half way through the season still at 19. I think part of why the number 20 was so stuck in my head is the fact that the number of weddings each year is a benchmark for my success. When people who don’t understand the full scope of wedding photography ask about my job the first question is “how many weddings do you have this year?” And I think no matter what that number is people would still be impressed. But, when it comes to the photography community, which can be pretty cutthroat, that number feels small.
So how did I come to be ok with my perceived disaster. I thought about the 19 couples who trusted me. Who chose me. Who are allowing me to be a huge part of shaping their legacy during an important time in their lives. Those 19 couples don’t give a shit how many weddings I have. In fact, having fewer weddings coupled with going full time allows me to invest my time and energy even more into helping them plan their days. I also thought about little Liv. How proud she would be of me, pushing through all the bullshit that made her question if she would even be around to have a career.
Our society is built on hustle. It’s long work weeks, no time off, letting ourselves go uncared for in the name of success. When did it become a bragging right to say you take no days off? I’ve built my career around the life I want to live. Because of my career I’m able to go on vacations with my partner, I’m able to be at home to care for our pets, I’m able to grab coffee with a friend and not miss out on my payday. I’ve been able to take the time to focus on my physical and mental health more. The things I’ve gained from this career, and specifically this year, are not measurable by numbers. It’s the things I’ve gained from my friendships and relationship that truly mark my success.
I know that this year and that goal won’t be the only one I perceive as failure. Life is all about seasons, and without this season of “failure” I wouldn’t be working so hard on making myself better. We can’t fault ourselves for doing the best we can with the resources we have. So take it from me, failures aren’t really failures, they are opportunities to learn and grow. I’m glad I failed.