Recently I’ve been thinking about what went wrong with my photography business and how I can apply the lesson to whatever I take on next. I believe the turning point was when it became a business in my mind. I became so fixated with replacing my day job that the focus became the “business” and “numbers” that I ended up loosing the love. I took jobs just to make money and the creative side of things suffered, because in my mind success equalled no longer having a day job. When I look at the world today and the widely viewed definition of success, it can often be a detriment to our dreams. At the time I had a very narrow view of what success looked like and would beat myself up for not measuring up. In hindsight if I had just focused on doing work that truly inspired me, I may have taken a different path. However, I know today I am where I need to be because I obviously needed the lesson and I gained a valuable skill that I still use.
I’ve realised there can be a danger in focusing too much on the end result; instead, we should focus more on the process and making good art. The reality is, not every artist will be able to live off their art and the sooner we embrace that idea, the more we open ourselves up to experiment and do work that makes us happy. When you are focused on the journey and not the destination you are able to live with joy while avoiding the stress of not measuring up to a mental finish line. So often that finish line exists because we are so focused on how other people will see us, will we be defined as a “success” or a “failure”. But the truth is the concept of success and failure definitely needs a 21st century overhaul. As many people have suffered through various demons (alcohol abuse, drug abuse, suicide etc) simply because they didn’t feel like they measured up or were successful, because their internal destination was never realised.
I’ve come to a new understanding and to me success is the ability to live simply, while creating a space for work that makes you happy. I am able to experiment and discover the things that inspire and excite me. Right now those things include writing, cooking, watercolour art and learning how to live on less. Society tell us success is material wealth. BUT, I’ve seen too many runners injured beyond repair in that rat race and many times even the ones that cross the finish line are still unhappy.
Two books that I’ve read recently that discuss these ideas much better that I ever could are Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert and The Heart of Simple Living: 7 Paths to a better Life
Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm. – Winston Churchill