How to Move Past the Stereotype of Success

How to Move Past the Stereotype of Success via The Rising Tide Society

 

I started my small business in 2013, and my first year was filled with passion and drive. I was excited for each success as it came, and I accepted my disappointments and failures with patience because I knew it would take time to build my business. And then towards the end of my second year, I realized that my failures and disappointments were hitting me harder than they had before. My business wasn’t where I wanted it to be and I was blaming myself for it.

But then I realized that I had taken someone else’s definition of success and made it my own.

 

The Stereotype of Success

The stereotypical definition of success is different in every industry. In the wedding photography industry, success is shooting 25-35 weddings every year, offering mentoring and workshops to other photographers, having a blog that’s read by your clients as well as your industry peers, and speaking at photography conferences around the country.

But the result of that stereotype isn’t all peaches and cream. It’s multiple double header wedding weekends and 8-12 weeks without a Saturday off. It’s long hours and late nights spent editing (or a significant amount of profit going out the door to cover assistants and outsourced tasks). It’s missing out on beach days, pool parties, and cookouts that your friends and family host throughout the summer. It’s working your hardest on the days when your loved ones are not working.

I knew I would have to make some sacrifices for my business, but I also knew there were some sacrifices I didn’t want to make. I knew that working on weekends was part of the job. But I didn’t want to work every weekend. I knew some weeks I would have a lot of editing and office work to do, but I didn’t ever want to feel like the weddings were piling up and not getting out the door to clients on schedule. I knew I would spend some of my evenings shooting engagement sessions or at networking events, but I wanted to spend the majority of my evenings at home.

The more I thought about what I wanted for my life and how I wanted my business to work for me, the more my definition of success changed.

Defining Success - Do What You Love

 

Defining Success Changes Your Business Goals

My wake-up call came when I saw another photographer post about working 60-hour weeks all wedding season long. The first thing that popped into my mind was, “If that’s what shooting 25 weddings a year means, I don’t want any part of it!”

When you sit down and think through what you want for your business, your goals will start to look very different. Your business doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s. It just has to work for you.

That might be fewer clients. That might be 30-hour work weeks, instead of 40 or 50. That might be one weekend off a month or taking a two week vacation in the middle of the summer. That might be working in the mornings and spending the afternoon at the pool with your kids. That might be hiring an assistant or scaling back your business. Whatever works for you.

Defining Success Changes Your Outlook on Competition

Once I changed my outlook on my own business success, I found that I viewed others in my industry differently. It’s very easy to be jealous of others when they have the life that you think you want for yourself. But when you redefine success for yourself, you find that it’s easier to be happy for others.

Defining Success - Do What You Love

 

Defining Success Changes Your Mentality

Having realistic expectations for your business success will help you enjoy your business more! Instead of being sad that I didn’t have as many weddings as someone else, I chose to be grateful that I had an entire weekend off. I started making room in my schedule for the things that make me happy, like coffee dates with friends.

Success is not all about the big career accomplishments that bring you recognition. Success is having time for the things that make you happy.  Have brunch with a friend. Run your personal errands during the work day. Take your kids to the park. Give yourself the afternoon off to enjoy at the beach. Spend the evenings with your family instead of at the computer. Being your own boss is likely why you started your business, so be a good boss to yourself.

My definition of success has been one of the biggest struggles in my photography business because I had set myself up for failure. I had made success unattainable. But once I changed my outlook on success and personalized it to fit my business and my life, I found that I loved my job even more!

Caitlin Gerres

Caitlin Gerres is a wedding photographer for detail-oriented brides. Based in Virginia Beach, VA, she captures the little moments of a wedding day for couples to cherish for decades. Caitlin loves to experience new places, but her favorite place in the world is home with her husband Ryan in the little yellow house they are renovating.

15 comments

  1. LOVE LOVE LOVE this! Exactly! Everyone is different. Do what’s best for you, and you will bring out the best of you! 🙂

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  2. This post is perfect timing and so well done. Time to sit down today and write out my own thoughts of success!

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  3. This is so true, and these words need to be said more often! Thank you for shining light into a place that can feel dark & lonely! You rock, Caitlin!

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    1. Caitlin Gerres

      Just keep repeating your version of success to yourself! Sometimes it’s a daily battle!

      Reply
  4. Caitlin – I know we’ve never met but this post SO spoke to me right now. I started my wedding photography business about a year ago and am totally passionate about growing it and shooting weddings for brides I click with. I often struggle with resisting getting sucked into the stereotype of success and love that you’ve chosen balance over other things that might deem you more “successful.” Exactly what I needed to hear today so thanks!

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    1. Caitlin Gerres

      So glad I could help you, Camille! It’s not easy, but I’m so much happier when I keep things balanced!

      Reply
  5. I love this post! Especially the point that your business does not have to look like everyone else’s. It just has to work for you. This could not be more true and I can relate because I am a mom of two young boys. My business works for my family…that is how I define my success. Thank you for such a lovely post!

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  6. These are wise words. I have to practice a lot in telling myself that my business can look like whatever I want it to – rather than what the industry seems to dictate. Plus, when we take time to step back and look at what we’re really going for, we can better serve our clients. I don’t know about you but when I’m more balanced and aligned with my vision and goals, I have an easier time loving others. Much to think about here. Thank you, Caitlin!

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    1. Caitlin Gerres

      Yes! And our businesses should be all about our clients and not about us! Good point!

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  7. Caitlin, I love this! So encouraging and so timely. Thank you!!

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  8. Caitlin, thank you so much for this post. It’s so true that measuring our own successes and calibrating them to our needs to truly be happy is one of the biggest struggles in this industry. The realization that I “be a good boss to myself” has really hit home, and makes all the difference in the world. I choose to take breaks from editing to read for fun, or take my dog the park and don’t feel guilty about it!

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    1. Caitlin Gerres

      Yay! Don’t forget to get yourself something for boss appreciation day! 😉

      Reply
  9. This was really, really good. I really, really, REALLY needed to hear this. Love the Rising Tide Society!

    Reply

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