Every year I set myself a number of goals and resolutions, both personal and professional in relation to my wedding photography business. In this episode, I want to share with you the resolutions I set myself for 2017 (and whether or not I achieved them), as well as those I’m hoping to achieve in 2018.
From spending more time with my wife to saving a certain amount of money and growing my wedding photography educational efforts, I’ll break down why I set myself each of these goals. I’ll also share with you how I achieved them (or why I think I didn’t) and how I’m going to realize my goals and resolutions for 2018.
Every year I set myself a number of resolutions and goals that I want to achieve, then revisit how well I did as the year comes to a close. 2017 was a bit of an exception, as after just a few weeks into the New Year, my wife and I found out we were expecting a little one. That’s when a lot of our resolutions and goals started to change.
As a result of the pregnancy, we decided that we really needed to figure out our living situation. We had sold our previous place about two years ago and have been renting for a while and saving up some money.
So we went on a house hunting adventure as soon as we found out my wife was pregnant. Those two things really got my resolutions thrown up in the air. Not to make excuses but it wasn’t as easy to accomplish them as I first thought.
The first resolution that I made a year ago was to spend more time with my wife, Charlene. I know it sounds a little bit awful to have spending time with your spouse as a resolution. Did I succeed in this past year? It’s a hard question to answer, as I feel that I never spend enough time with my wife. Mostly it’s my fault for putting my profession ahead of spending time with her.
So did I meet this goal? I would have to say I did not but I might want to give myself a little bit of leeway and say “somewhat”. We did spend a good amount of time together but that was mostly preparing for the birth of our baby girl, getting the nursery set up and looking for homes.
Other times she was helping me film some things and brainstorm ideas for my business. Since we found out we were having a little one, she’s stopped shooting weddings with me. But when I set the goal, I did not want spending quality time with Charlene to be at a wedding and I wanted to be more conscientious of the time I would be spending with her.
We actually went to Zion National Park in Utah for a couple of days, as well as to a place called Antelope Canyon in Page, Arizona. But that was really our only out of town type of trip this year.
Going forward, it’s probably going to be spending more time with her and our baby girl, Ellie, who’s just about three months old.
I’m sure all the parents who are listening can connect on that where time with your spouse is going to be more a family time. But this is something I really want to continue to do, trying to make time not just for the family but for my wife.
The second resolution that I had (and I’m embarrassed to say I definitely did not meet this goal) was to eat healthy and lose some weight. This has been a big priority of mine so why am I still putting my business ahead of it? Having vendor meals at weddings, late-night drive-throughs, long days of working at the computer and not working out.
If things keep going the way they are, I’ll be heading down a really bad path and I don’t want to have that. One of my biggest interests is to backpack, go hiking, and I don’t want to be somebody that is not able to do that in my late-30s and 40s or not be able to do that with my growing daughter.
My goal was to weigh 170 pounds at the end of March and 165 by the end of June, then 160 by September and sustain that weight at the end of the year. I’m about 20 pounds over that as we speak.
That is the circumstance of working too much and putting my health on the back burner. Not only working out but also eating well. This really has to be something I prioritize much more.
I need to have an efficient workflow with all the different things I’m doing so I can workout three times a week for that hour plus. The goal is to signup with CrossFit again. There’s this great gym not too far from where I’m at.
Hopefully, I can start by January 2018, but the sooner, the better. Getting in shape again and keeping my weight down and having the energy to do all these things I enjoy.
The third goal is very similar to the second and that was to eat healthy, all the time. I definitely did not do this. My share of eating out was quite often. So not only bad health because of eating out but financially that takes a toll on you as well.
This has been the case for me for many, many years and I think that’s one of the things I don’t like about me being a wedding photographer. I do tend to splurge a bit and go eat out and drive-throughs. Eating way too much or not eating enough and splurging when I do get a chance to eat a meal.
This absolutely has to change. What is it going to take for me to just wake up, snap myself out of these really bad routines? What am I going to have to give up? That’s always been the struggle for me.
The fourth goal that I had for 2017 was to save a certain amount by the end of the year. I have different types of funds, not just in one area like with the bank. But various types of investment that I’m doing.
Did I meet this goal? I think I did. I was able to save a certain amount every single month and I was even able to put in a bit more for certain months. I needed to do this for the longest of times: financially get my act together.
But the tricky part is going forward. I don’t think I can keep this up. The big motivation is that we all need to be financially stable, we need to be able to pay the bills.
But on top of that, we need to have some kind of retirement fund and be able to support ourselves in case I’m not able to book that many weddings or worse. So I’m glad I was able to meet this goal and I plan on continuing to do that for as long as possible.
This has been my goal pretty much every single year since I started and that is to have at least 10 weddings booked for the following year by the end of the middle of the current year.
Did I meet that goal? I sure did. By the end of June 2017, I had around 12-13 weddings booked for the following year.
Then doubling that, to have 20 weddings booked by the end of December. Once again, I’m glad to say that I was able to meet that goal. I currently have 23, that’s a signed contract and retainer deposit paid already. That’s my definition of a “booked” wedding.
The third part of this goal was to photograph at least 35 weddings in 2017 and, thankfully, I did that as well. I ended up with 37. Unfortunately, one wedding got postponed, another sadly got canceled. But I’m happy to have check-marked both of these goals - the number of weddings booked for next year, as well as the number shot for this year.
That’s also my goal going forward. If anything, I might want to scale it down a little bit, possibly charge a bit more...see how I do with my gross profit and the earnings I take away from that.
My sixth goal was to grow my Wedding Photography Podcast business. Looking back to where I was a year ago with the Wedding Photography Podcast and where I am now, I made strides in some areas while regressed in others. I tried different things and some worked while others didn’t.
For example, I started an email newsletter where I’d send out my best tips and some videos but I decided that maybe a lot of us prefer other means of consuming that content. I tried doing a workshop and it was a lot more difficult than I thought it would be. Same thing with the coaching. I wanted to invest as much as I could into my students but it was a bit time-consuming.
So a lot of things I was very ambitious about and wanted them to take off quickly. But I realized that I needed to dial it back a little bit. It was way more than I could handle while photographing weddings on a full-time basis and looking for a home and getting ready for a baby.
So I think I was able to grow the Wedding Photography Podcast business and I am happier where I am now than I was a year ago. I certainly learned a lot of lessons. My plan is to continue this growth and more than anything, provide the best value and content.
Whatever I can do to help you with your business, I'm all for it. You’ll also notice the rebranding I did to Wedding Photography Podcast, which is now under the new umbrella: Success In Wedding Photography.
Related to the Wedding Photography Podcast educational efforts was to release a brand new episode of WPP, this podcast, every single week. I’m proud to say I was able to have a new episode every Thursday and plan to continue that streak.
The other part of that goal was to release a new episode of ASK WPP, the daily show I started on January 1st and ended on June 30th after 181 episodes. Was I able to do that for the entire year? Unfortunately, I was not.
Mainly I wasn’t getting enough questions or perhaps I didn’t find the best ways to get them. In addition, I found that it might hit a brick wall. Maybe it wasn’t as helpful in the end as I’d hoped it would be.
I really needed to dive deeper into the struggles, problems, and challenges wedding photographers were having.
Me not knowing enough about them and trying to cram all this information into one episode just wasn’t going to work. So I decided for those reasons to discontinue ASK WPP.
If you’re curious as to what those questions were, just go to askwpp.com and it will redirect you to the page where those episodes are. You can also subscribe and download these episodes on iTunes and Stitcher. Just look for “ASK WPP”.
The eighth goal was a little more on the personal side while also incorporating some business aspects and that was to listen to 24 books on Audible. I’m not a good reader. My attention span is so short. Did I do that? No, I did not listen to 24 books. I ended up at around 10. There’s a few I didn’t quite finish or I just wasn’t really paying enough attention to.
I did have an Audible account but I canceled it and used all the credits to buy several business-related books that are on my iPhone. Maybe during a long road trip or some other opportunity I’ll be able to finally listen to these books that I purchased.
The other part of this goal was to write in my 5-minute journal for 5 days a week. Did I do that for the entire year? No, I did not. I did do it consecutively until around May or June. In the very beginning, it wasn’t too bad. I was excited to do it.
In the morning I had to write down three goals I wanted to accomplish that day, what I’m grateful for, and answer a few other short questions. In the evening I had to reflect on the day.
It was fun in the beginning but after a couple of months, it was getting a bit repetitive for me. I couldn’t come up with anything new and I started scribbling on it. I couldn’t even read my own writing.
I basically started to become fed up with it when I was actually counting down the number of days when I'll be done with the journal. I was not planning on getting a second one and continuing on.
The ninth and final goal I had for 2017 was to go out of country two times as my wife and I have done during past years. Last year we only went on one trip but it was quite an epic one to Uganda and Tanzania. The previous year it was Patagonia and Thailand.
But this past year, we did not go out of the country at all. This was the first year ever since we met that we did not do this. Mainly because we were expecting a little one, saving up money for her, as well as for our new home.
The other part of this goal was to go hiking at least one time per quarter. How many times did I do this? I would say once, maybe twice. Once on our trip to Zion and the other to Mount Baldy, one of the mountains in the San Bernardino County area.
So I didn’t meet this goal of doing it at least once per quarter. The third part of this goal was to go backpacking at least twice this past year and I didn’t do it a single time. I didn’t even unpack my backpack with my tent and sleeping bag.
I’m pretty sad about this as these are still my favorite hobbies and interests and I’m itching to do these things. It’s just right now and in the foreseeable future, it’s not a good time.
Priorities are to our little one, getting ready to move to our new home, getting my educational efforts going, and my wedding clients. All these things that I need to take care of.
By no means will I put this goal on the back burner forever. So sooner rather than later, I’m going to dust off the backpack and suitcases and get ready to go out in the wilderness or even out of the country.
In summary, of all the goals I had in 2017, I only accomplished a third of them and you can see that my priorities were more on the business side of things. Not so much on the personal side - my health, spending time with my wife and even a few guilty pleasures like getting to go out of town backpacking and traveling.
Is this a good thing? At least I was able to focus on certain aspects of my life, although other parts did suffer. With the resolutions I didn’t meet, I know that I want to accomplish those goals. It’s not going to take a lot of convincing.
A lot of the goals I set for this year are going to continue into next year. I really don’t have anything too new that I can add on. I’m just not going to be able to fit it into my schedule. I’m really struggling with the goals I had this year, so how can I add even more?
The first one is that I absolutely need to be more conscientious of what I eat, how much I eat, when I eat and everything related to that, as well as working out. Being far more active than just on a wedding day or at an engagement session. Basically, I need to get in better shape and lose a bit of weight. It’s not the end of the world right now but I don’t want it to get to that point.
Professionally speaking, I need to have at least 10 weddings booked for 2019 by the end of June 2018. Then 20 weddings for 2019 by the end of next year, as well as photograph at least 35 weddings next year. Same goal as it has been for many years.
Thirdly, a new episode of WPP every single Thursday, as it has been for almost the last two years. Also, going live on YouTube every Tuesday, as well as producing another prerecorded video on a Friday. Will I be able to keep that up every single week for 52 weeks? I’m not sure but I’m optimistic and more than anything, I want to be able to provide this content to the community.
Number four is that I want to coach at least six photographers, one-on-one, helping them to grow their business and go full-time. That is my goal.
Each coaching period will be two hours but the whole program is for 6 months. So 3 in the beginning of the year, from January through to June, and 3 from July through to December during the second half of the year.
My fifth goal for 2018 is to go out of the country for fun. Not for work/weddings. But to travel with my wife like we used to a few years ago. To go out of the country at least once, for a trip that’s at least a week and a half. The goal is sometime after we are moved into our new home and after the busy wedding season, probably around Thanksgiving time.
Related to that is I want to go backpacking and trekking in the wilderness at least 2 times next year. I’m itching to go back to the Sierra Nevadas. I haven’t done that in quite some time. My definition of a backpacking trip is at least 3 days-2nights somewhere in the wilderness with my camping tent and sleeping bag.
Goal number six is where the savings and investments come in. Saving a few thousand dollars per month and putting that into a financial investment company. I’m using one called Betterment and it’s been absolutely incredible since I started about 2.5 years ago. The returns are just amazing. It’s basically free money and I highly recommend that you consider something like that.
My seventh resolution for next year is to spend as much time as possible with Charlene, my wife, and our baby girl, Ellie.
This is the most important one, aside from being in good health, because if you’re not in good health, you’re not going to be able to do anything else, right?
Specifically, it's blocking out time to go out on a date or a trip on a certain weekend that I 'm free. I need to put more priority on birthdays and certainly our baby girl’s first birthday. I am not going to book a wedding on that weekend!
These are my seven goals for 2018 and I’d love to hear what yours are, both professionally and personally. So don’t hesitate to shoot me an email at [email protected] and share with me your 2018 goals. Are you setting realistic goals and how confident are you about meeting them?
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