Turn Your World Upside Down by Turning Stress Into Passion
There are some things you just can't control, and other things you can. Looking back at our business, and my younger years, there was a lot more self implied stress than there should have been. The same is true for a lot of young people, and it can carry over into your entrepreneurship life if you don't get a handle on it. When you are young you have it made really, and yet for some reason you can't always see it. There are no crazy big bills like a mortgage, yet chances are you have a roof over your head. However, that doesn't mean it's not stressful for teenagers and young adults, it just means they haven't figured out their passion yet. Boredom is usually a big cause of stress. Too much time on your hands with your own thoughts can lead you down a dark road. That is why it's so important to pick something to work on and grow within. Having a hobby, and something that you can't wait to find time for, is one of the biggest keys to a happy life. Earlier, I used the term self implied stress because it is something that is man made. It's all in our minds, and it's a choice we make in our lives. That is why filling your thoughts with a passion makes life even sweeter.
It's April, and our busy season is starting to ramp up, which is part of what brings me to this post. Being an artist in New York and New England has it's plus sides. There is no market in the world quite like New York for an artist to work in. The opportunities are endless, the shear size of some of the assignments can be exciting, and the creative people we get the opportunity to work with is often times fascinating. They say if you can make it in NYC you can make it anywhere, and I think there is a lot of truth to that. It's not that the city will eat you when it comes to competition and dramatic levels of talent. Rather, we have found that, for the most part, NYC is a myth in that regard. It's really a place with average creativity at best these days because most of the true creatives have moved out due to the rent prices. Rather it's the fact that NYC, and the Northeast in general, is so big time seasonal that makes it so frustrating and challenging.
Late Spring, into summer, and through early fall NYC and New England is bustling. Weddings, events, portraits, commercial work, etc... is in full swing, and it's the ultimate place to call yourself and artist. But, once the holidays are over it's like a ghost town creatively speaking. This makes being in business very challenging, and part of the reason that rates for services in the Northeast literally must be higher than other parts of the country for business as usual to continue. You have to have enough money coming through the door to survive the bitter cold winters and snow storms that bring business to a halt, and you also must find something to fill that time with that enhances your life's journey.
There are a lot of people who start businesses who don't take into account this challenge. As of late I've seen several remarkably talented photographers who managed to work their way to the top, even speaking at large photographic conferences, decide to call it quits because the seasonal business model was putting too much stress on their marriage or lives in general. The emotional swing we experience from being so busy we can't even think to having no work, or money coming in can be exhausting if you don't get a handle on the fact that this is the way it works. As I mentioned before stress doesn't exist unless we allow it to, and there are some things you can and should do to make the challenges you face as a seasonal business palatable in the slow months.
I must admit that I have a lot of personal interests. First and foremost I am a photographer and an entrepreneur. These two things can completely consume your life, and in the first part of my career they did just that. I would work from sunrise till midnight many days, then photograph weddings on the weekends. I literally had no life other than time with my wife, who luckily was also working in the business otherwise our relationship would have never survived it. However, today I make it a point to find a balance in work and play, and I suggest that everyone do the same because it makes life sweeter. This doesn't apply to just entrepreneurs, but to everyone reading this. Whether you are just graduating high school, in the middle of your life, or retired the one thing I see missing in a lot of peoples lives is a passion or a hobby beyond work. Having a passion or hobby to work on is one of the keys to a happy and fulfilled life in my opinion. We are happy when we are learning and growing. On the flip side, when we are bored, we are stressed, and in a seasonal business there will be down time for you to fill. You can choose to fill your off hours with boredom and stress, or choose to be happy through learning and growing. If you can fill that gap with something that is creative, it will not only keep the boredom stress from seeping through, but it will also enhance your skills at the same time when you get back to work.
I spend a lot of my off time creating fine art paintings, working on my guitar or musician skills, going snowboarding, or mountain biking. Each of these things is a passion of mine and it actually adds to my skill set when I pick up the camera and go to work. Photography you see is a technical practice in a lot of ways, whereas all these other things are purely feeling practices where you can close down the technical side of the brain and just be in the moment. You can do this with photography as well as long as nobody is paying you to perform with high expectations.
Being an entrepreneur can be exciting. It does take hard work and dedication, but don't allow the challenges or slow time to stress you out. Whether you have seasonal challenges you face like we do, or just can't take staring at the computer for another minute, find your passion outside of your work and enjoy the fruits of learning and growing from within.
Tips For Leaving The Stress of Work and Life Behind
1. Recognize if you are Stressed.
If you are sitting around after work watching TV for hours on end, and feeling anxiety then chances are you are missing out on happiness that could be yours. Take notice for times when stress seems to be creeping in, and instead of trying to drown out the feeling of life with drugs, alcohol, or sleep take action on something that interests you.
2. Pick something... Pick anything...
I know a lot of people both young and old who don't have a "thing" they love to do. It doesn't matter what you choose, but for your own sake choose something to work towards. It can be a sport, art, or even home improvements that you become passionate about.
3. Channel stress in a positive direction...
If you are alone with your own thoughts for too long it can lead you into a dark place. Channel those thoughts into creating something. Pick up a paint brush and canvas, and put those useless ugly stressful thoughts to work for you.
4. Slow down and enjoy...
Slow down... You don't have to conquer the world today. Spend time with your passions outside of work so that when you get back to work you are excited to be so busy.
5. Find life's sweet spot...
Learning, evolving, and growing makes life sweeter. Life is sooo good when we can feel, and see, ourselves growing. Get off the sofa, put down the ice cream, and take action. You'll have fun, and the better you get at your hobby or passion, the more you will enjoy all that life has to offer.