Thursday, October 17, 2013

Pruning Your (Photography) Projects & Choosing ONE Passion — Todd Henry & Ramit Sethi

It's time for PRUNING your (photography) projects my friends. Learning some lessons from Todd Henry and Ramit Sethi this week, I've been inspired to choose one passion and focus on growing my business. 

Some people might say I'm a project junkie. I throw myself at the feet of a new project almost everyday. My life is like one big college fair where you scribble your name onto the sign up sheet for every club, sports team and theatre production you can find. I'm a fish and fun ideas are like bait for me — I jump at them but find myself hanging painfully from a hook being strung along, bleeding out and slowly watching my 1,001 projects die unfulfilled deaths. You see, although I have a 1001 projects, I don't have a 1001 hours in a day. Before I know it, all of my energy is gone and I've got nothing left to offer; silly projects and priorities are pushed to the wayside in a sad pile of neglect. Well, I think the universe is tired of watching me overdose on project pills and it's been sending me signs....

hawaiian girl in pink flower bush in wailuku town cemetery maui hawaii

This week, I've been reading Todd Henry's new book, "Die Empty" and he's been talking about "pruning your projects."

"Where are your 'open loops'? These are the unfinished projects, the halfhearted efforts...they are the projects that you're afraid to say no to, but deep down you know that you can't commit to. These must be either acted upon and made a priority, or immediately closed and put aside. If you have to many open loops in your life, it diminishes your ability to focus on the mission-critical things. You must become good at pruning your projects and commitments so that you have energy available for your most important work." (Chaper 4, Die Empty, Todd Henry)

This weekend on Ramit Sethi's blog I watched a video about how to choose one passion and stick with it rather than spreading yourself too thin between dozens of passions or flaying around without any direction at all.

'When I graduated from college, I was working on 9 projects. NINE. I was doing a startup…I was working on an ebook…I was doing this, I was doing that. People’s eyes would glaze over when they asked me what I did.My problem was I didn't know how to choose. I didn't want to close the door on all these other interests of mine, and it's not like ONE was the overwhelming choice. I liked them all. The code words I used were very telling. I would say "it can't hurt" -- it can't hurt to dabble in a bunch of things and find out what I like, right? Actually, IT CAN HURT VERY MUCH!! " (How Do You Choose One Passion, Ramit Sethi)

hawaiian girl in pink flower bush in wailuku cemetery maui

Over the past year, these are the kinds of projects I've started & invested time in:
-starting my photography business
-creating promotional videos for other photographers
-thePhotoChicks: a photography podcast
-Did You Know She's Beautiful: photographing women survivors or war
-photographing military wives
-planning two photography workshops
-Barn Glamour: photographing horses & their riders
-my happiness project
-30 Days with Chamonix Video Challenge
-101 Years of Beauty: photographing women ages 0-101
-writing a novel 
-starting a yoga podcast
-doing a life experiment to inspire a memoire
-teaching a webinar

(I'm probably forgetting a few)

I heard through the grapevine that my aunt recently said, "Why is she doing these other projects? She should be focusing on growing her photography business." At the time I knew she was right but I didn't want to admit it because that would require me to do something different. I labeled her comment as being 'unambitious.' My plan was simple... take over the world by squeezing in as many projects as possible. But clearly, this was not the golden path to success because I overworked myself, got spread to too thin, burned out, and broke down like an old jalopy. Suddenly all the jokes about being a 'project-junkie' weren't so funny anymore. I couldn't keep my business running — my mind was too exhausted to carryout marketing plans, keep my finances straight or come up with new ideas to bring in new clients.

So, I slammed on the breaks. I stopped running my business. I dropped off the grid and didn't talk to people for a couple weeks. I decided to move to Hawaii and work for someone else. I've watched my brain recovering and with it, my desire to take on projects. Thank goodness for Todd Henry & Ramit Sethi who are giving me a reality-check-slap-in-the-face. "Pick one project, you crazy nut job!!"

hawaiian girl in pink flower bush in wailuku cemetery maui profile shot over shoulder

As much as it pains me to focus in, I'm choosing ONE passion: women's portraiture — and I'm keeping it simple. No fancy fluffy projects to fill the time and keep my hands busy and no trips around the world to spice things up. For now, it's just simple photo shoots, studying business and sharing everything on my blog.  I'm working for Karma Hill by day and I'm working for my business by night (and early morning). My #1 goal right now is to build up a Hawaii-themed portfolio (from scratch) so I can sell my photography to the tourist market here on Maui. That's it. 

The only other side-projects that are allowed into my life right now are my podcast thePhotoChicks because it keeps me sharing knowledge, enthusiastic about being a part of the photography community, and connected to my beloved co-host, Cheryl Ford. And of course, I have my on-going project 101 Years of Beauty which doesn't require any special effort since I'm literally just ticking off ages as I photograph them. 

So that's my goal. Keep me accountable my friends! If you see me with big delicious project in my hands, you have permission to slap it onto the floor with a little social media scolding. (I'll probably regret saying that lol).

hawaiian girl in pink flower bush in wailuku town cemetery with long curly black hair over her shoulders
What projects can you prune out of your life?