business ownership

Mourning motherhood | What no one told me about becoming a new mama

Before having Ansel, my 12 week old son, Stephen and I were married for 5 years. We traveled all over the world, enjoyed lengthy conversations together whenever we wanted to. We cheered each other on in some significant personal growth journeys. We learned who we are, we bought and sold houses, we made and lost money. And at the end of each day, we'd snuggle up together and then fall asleep holding hands. There wasn't a day that went by that we didn't snuggle for a few minutes and fall asleep holding hands. 

We were best friends. We were lovers. And we were people we'll never be again. 

It wasn't too long after having Ansel that the realization hit me like a ton of bricks. Our life together would literally never be the same again. People often said that to me with a romanticized tone, "You're pregnant? awwwww, that just changes your whole life. You're life will never be the same!" Like it would open my eyes to so much love and goodness. 

But then I realized what they meant. My life. would NEVER. be the same. AGAIN. 

And in the early morning hours of another sleepless night, I mourned. 

I mourned the Stephanie that could exercise whenever she wanted to. I mourned the Stephanie that could hop over to a coffee shop to have a spontaneous date with her husband. I mourned the Stephanie that would spend time enjoying putting on her makeup. I mourned the Stephanie that had no one else to really think about but herself and her (completely autonomous) husband. I mourned the Stephanie that got to sleep when she wanted to and shower when she wanted to. The girl that got to go on a walk by herself anytime she cared to, could work whenever and however she wanted to. The girl completely unencumbered by nap times, childcare, and feeding schedules. And I mourned the loss of our nightly snuggle time and falling asleep holding hands. 

There's so much beauty in motherhood, there really is. But no one told me that I might mourn the loss of who I was before having a baby. That I'd never be that girl again. Never have the same marriage again. I just had no clue I'd feel that way and the weight of that loss made me feel so confused and guilty. 

"But...isn't motherhood what I've been yearning for?"

"I lost 2 babies. Shouldn't I just be grateful to have this perfect little baby in my arms finally?"

"shouldn't I feel happy?"
"isn't it bad that I feel this grief?"

"Is it wrong that I miss being able to work and wish I could do that more than be with my screaming newborn?"

The guilt of becoming a new mom can be incredibly overwhelming. I literally felt this paralyzing guilt for every move I made. As my business mentor once illustrated for me, it was like carrying around a handful of balloons. I had to shower with them, get in the car with them, go to Target with them, and go to bed holding onto them. 

Holding a handful of balloons is hard. It's awkward. It's cumbersome. I mean, have you tried to get into a car wrangling a bunch of balloons? That's what momguilt feels like. 

And honestly, the solution is so simple, I walked right over it a thousand times. 

Let the balloons go. Let them go. Release it. Watch it float away. 

And as I released the guilt, I decided a few things: 

I wasn't going to let anyone else's voices create questions or guilt in my mind. I felt loss. So I decided to first grieve.

I felt confused and hormonal. So I decided to give myself space to figure it out and not have the answers. I kept tissues close at all times and didn't wear mascara because there was a high liklihood that I'd be crying soon.

I felt disconnected. So I cried, I talked with Stephen, we shared, and we began finding new ways to reconnect in this new, completely tumultuous time. And I allowed myself to be okay with learning how to love a new human-despite what I thought, it wasn't this magical instant connection. It was intuitive, yeah. But wasn't instant. I had to learn how we relate to each other and learn how to fall in love with him too. And I did. 

I missed my work, so I grieved and journaled when I could, dreaming of a time when I was doing the sacred work that ignites my soul. I allowed myself to relax into the reality that there was enough time and would be enough time for me to do what I was called to do in my work.

I mean, I missed wearing clothes that didn't have spit up on them. So I bought new shirts, and did laundry a little more often.

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I mourned becoming a mother. No one told me I might feel that way. And if you do, know that it's okay. It's a massive life change. And you'll never be the same again. And as I said goodbye to that girl, terrified as to what life would look like moving forward, struggling with a sense of regret, and feeling so overwhelmed by all the life changes I was experiencing, I started seeing something beautiful. 

Because of this new identity, I was becoming someone more beautiful. I started seeing in myself a strength I never knew i had. I started believing in myself, caring for and loving this sacred body I have, trusting, and resting. I started letting go of resistance, trusting my intuition, and reveling in gratitude. 

And as I did, some incredible things started to happen. I started seeing clients and money flow into my life with ease. I started being present-looking my son in the eyes as I fed him instead of frantically creating a social media post. And I started seeing magic everywhere. 

Just like my son lays in his crib and cries, knowing that he'll be fed but doing nothing to bring that food to himself, I started to say what I wanted and let it come to me in childlike trust. And I started celebrating a life that felt good. 

If you're approaching motherhood, hear me when I say this: Motherhood is so different for everyone. But if you feel grief, it's okay. lean into it for a bit and ask for help. And look for the magic. You'll start seeing it everywhere. 

 

My three secrets to getting a lot of stuff done

Chances are, you're your own boss (even if this is a side gig). You're the engine that grinds this whole business thing forward and you're where the buck stops. I've gotta be real with you-sometimes that terrifies me. Anyone else feel that pressure sometimes? It used to look like these thoughts swarming around in my mind: 

  • "What if I have an off day?" 
  • "What if I'm sick?"
  • "What if what I'm doing doesn't work and I have NO clue?"

So, for a while, I wouldn't do ANYTHING. Obviously, that didn't get me too far...at least not FORWARD! It took me a year of mindset work and creating routines and habits to see how to create a week filled with intention and success. 

Here’s my secret sauce that create a work week that allows for coffee with a friend, taking care of my baby,  and still driving profits to my business.


Secret #1: Create your morning and evening routines

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Think of a garden-if you're planting vegetables, you first make the container or bed to plant your vegetables in. Your morning and evening routines are your containers! Now, what you put inside them is where you'll start seeing some magic! Because once you have the container, you can plant seeds and see growth!

 When you've got a killer morning and evening routine, all that mindset and energy work you're doing will start to take hold in your life. 

While I'm a mama and my morning and evening routines are flexible right now, here's what I'm doing for my growth:

My morning routine

I get up before my son's first morning feeding (he's sleeping through the night now) and go for a walk. During this time, I listen to nature, focus on breathing, and begin practicing gratitude.

When I get back, I make or enjoy my coffee and read for a few minutes. Honestly, my reading time is pretty brief right now-I don't have a ton of stamina here but reading stamina is like muscle-you can increase it over time. Right now, I'm happy if I stay awake to read for 5 minutes, but I look forward to when it's 6 minutes...then 7...you get it!

After reading, I take time for prayer and meditation and follow up with journaling. And of course, journaling leads to brainstorming, which is when I have my best ideas!

My Evening Routine

Why make an evening routine? Your subconscious mind controls 95% of your actions...WHOA. And it's most active while you sleep. So...if you want to shift your subconscious thinking, the best time to do it is right before it's most active! Give it some fuel! During this time, I do some specific reading, affirmations, and meditation. Then, as Stephen and I fall asleep, we share what we're grateful for.


Secret #2: Make space for your best ideas

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Even if I only do this on Monday mornings (which totally happens), I take time to journal. I write prayers, get burdens and stressors off my chest, make mind maps, lists, and write out dreams. Then I breathe for a minute. 
I know I’ve talked about journaling...like so much forever but what about the breath before the journaling? 
That’s the magic!
During that time, ideas flood my brain. Why? (tell me you already know why!) Because there's ROOM for them now!! Making SPACE is seriously when the magic happens. I've drafted numerous course outlines, coaching content ideas, and marketing plans during this deeply powerful time! That's some mega brainstorming!


Secret #3: Focus on your top 2-3 goals for the week and day

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I ask this in our private facebook group often because I ask myself every monday: "If I only got 2-3 things done this week, what are my big goals?" I focus on tasks that first serve my core purpose, second connect me to the people who need my message, and third that drive my bottom line. 

You can get a million tiny tasks done, but what if you could do 2-3 BIG things that resonated with your tribe and really shifted your business? Wouldn’t you rather have that?

How about you? What's the secret sauce to creating your intentional week?

Don't give up on your daydream| a letter to the dreamers

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Dear Dreamer,

I'm sitting at my desk, with a million dreams in my head, a heart on fire to help creative business owners build a business they love, and a fussy, clingy infant strapped to my chest. I'm typing, recording, journaling, and building while taking breaks to feed, burp, and sooth my crying babe. 

I've gotta be honest-motherhood is the most difficult journey I've been on! I've found my purpose and work I absolutely love. I found my baby after a long journey to each other. And now, I feel divided. I want to do so many things in my business. I have so many dreams for my family too. And figuring out how to divide my time is not easy. 

Do you ever feel like that? Like you're taking 2 steps forward and 1 step back and you split your time between your daydream and your Maybe your creative business is a side hustle and your time is limited. Maybe you're also a mamapreneur and doing the naptime hustle. 

Whatever your situation, if you feel like you're taking 2 steps forward and one step back...don't give up on your daydream! You're still moving forward and that's what counts. Keep taking the 2 steps forward. Keep running toward your dream. Because you have a sacred call on your life and a purpose to live out. That purpose will be found in both your business and your personal life. The resistance might feel overwhelming at first, but keep going. It will ease up. 

So today, I'm taking my 2 steps forward. I know just how I want my schedule to look, how I want to serve my family, clients, and audience and what it will take to get there. And in 5 years, I won't be whining about the 1 step back, I'll be celebrating the forward motion, the grit, and the alignment that brought me into my dreams.

What does your life look like in 5 years? And what will it take you to get there? Keep stepping, sweet friend. You were meant for this. 

Love, 

A fellow day-dreamer on a mission

Don't have a yearly business plan? You're missing out in these 5 big ways

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Every year since 2012, we've taken a weekend in late January to plan our business for the year. Sometimes we get away for the weekend, other times, we make hardcore reservations on our couch...you feel me? But each year, we create a plan that drives our business for the entire year.

But what if I don't have time for a weekend of planning?

It's been a complete game-changer for us, but it can be tough to find that time. Whether you have a family to take care of, a busy business you can't step back from, or just a crazy pace of life, taking a weekend away does mean hitting the pause button on a few things that can feel too important to pause. 

But you really can't afford not to! Here's what you're missing out on if you're not creating a yearly plan for your business.

You have nothing to aim for

In the "go" and "do," it's natural to start going through the motions! In fact, it can be so easy to "book-shoot-deliver" that you don't pull yourself up for a breath. It's in that frantic pace, in that focus on the minutia that you lose your point of view. When YOU lose your point of view, CLIENTS will be repelled from you because they don't really see and hear what you're all about.

You don’t know what’s broken when something isn’t working

One year, I was running on autopilot and stopped to look around in September of that year. No one was booking us and all of a sudden I felt a cold, hard panic! I had NO CLUE why! Why didn't I have a clue? Because I was just going through the motions, doing the next thing and not tending to my big picture. When I realized that there was a problem, not only was I clueless about WHAT the problem really was, but I was so frantic to change something, that I tried to change everything and still didn't see results! I spent time choosing new website templates and platforms. I curated my portfolio, asked for reviews, posted on social media each day, etc. But still...no one was finding us, so I churned harder! 

What I hadn't yet learned was that a good yearly plan includes ways to test and troubleshoot to know how to get your desired responses. When I learned and began implementing this skill, I was in control. I knew how to chart, test, and change things in my business!

You’re just going through the motions

There's something to be said for automating your business. But automating and going through the motions without emotional investment are two different things! Why is this a problem? When you're going through the motions, potential clients and booked clients start to feel it. You'll start hearing people complain that you are "checked out" or "don't seem to care" about them. Creating that yearly plan allows you to stay focused on those dear clients and give them your best because the REST is running like a machine. 

You feel burnout and anxiety

I've mentioned above how you can miss problems, go through the motions, and run a business with nothing to aim for. Those things can happen, yes. But how do they impact you, dear entrepreneur? That precious creativity you'd like to foster, that energy you want to have in reserves, that vision and focus you envision yourself having...you trade that all in for anxiety and burnout. Why? You're spending your time grinding, keeping your head down, facing problems you don't know how to fix. It wears you out. And you deserve better.

There’s never a feeling of “enoughness” in your business

When you don't have the focus that a yearly business plan can give you, how do you ever know when you have enough? When you can reward yourself? When you can be proud of your accomplishments? You can't because there's always one more thing. Don't do that to yourself!

So, what do you you really want from this next year? Go ahead, comment below and share in the conversation: What do you want from your business in 2018?

Ready to learn what types of goals to make in your business? Attend my FREE live training by signing up HERE

 

4 Business Investments I Made In 2017 That Totally Paid Off!

I run a seasonal business and we’re headed into our slow season. Sometimes slow season can bring on the financial scaries. It used to make me want to hibernate until busy season again and keep all that money I have stored up to make it through.

I used to struggle a lot with a very scarcity-driven mindset surrounding my slow season income. You feel me, don’t you? I mean, sometimes it’s hard to see the forest through the trees! All I know is that giving up this money in front of me means I have to shortchange something else, right?

WRONG! I learned this huge lesson over the past year about money in business:

There’s a difference between spending and investing!

When I spend, the money leaves. When I invest, I should see myself get paid back somehow. So, I made some of my biggest investments yet, and I got to see firsthand how they paid off in big ways! Let’s take a look at them and see just how big the payoff was!

(head's up, if you're unfamiliar with the term ROI, it means "return on investment.")

My biggest business investments in 2017 and their ROI

Seeing a counselor

January brought me the painful loss of my second baby. Add in some additional trauma a month later and I quickly realized I was struggling with depression (more like my caring husband realized it and encouraged me to seek help). I probably owe this dear woman about 17 boxes of tissues...but with her help, I began healing and finding hope again. If you take nothing else away from this, I just want you to know this: Sometimes life is hard. Get help when you need it. We were never meant to do life alone. 

My ROI: hope, realigned priorities, healthy relationship with God, community in my church

Finding the right accountant

This one was a massive ROI for me. My previous arrangement caused me to suffer some severe fiscal losses, so you can imagine my relief when I immediately saw an ROI on this investment and change!

My ROI: 10x my investment. I cried in my accountant’s office. So grateful!

Hiring a business coach

Want to know which investment I spent the most on? And which one KEEPS paying off in dividends? It's business coaching-easily my strongest investment of my year. I was so embarrassed and terrified to hire a coach-I didn’t want ANYONE to know I needed help! But I quickly realized that we ALL need help! 

I had some intense mindset issues to work through. But I worked hard and quickly started seeing breakthroughs. Within 2 months of the end of my coaching, I had created 2 new businesses (Stephanie Booth Photography and The Successful Creative), monetized both, and repaid my coaching investment...but check out that ROI!

My ROI: 3x my coaching investment in two months, generated from completely new avenues. Think about that. I spent the MOST money here. Which means seeing money come into my life at that rate means...I welcomed a lot of money into my life after letting a lot go!  In addition, the most powerful ROI I gained was the strength of mindset to recognize and own my strengths and build out a diversified business. How much would those returns be worth to you? What's the pricetag? 

Hiring an assistant 

After months of struggling to find time to send out client gifts, it made sense to hire someone to assemble my client print boxes and send them out. It was a test idea-while at first I was hung up on letting go of money for something I could technically do, paying her (and paying her well!) allowed me to make 6x that amount during the time she worked for me. Ummmm...What the heck took me so long?

My ROI: 6x-because someone was doing this valuable work for me, I made time to meet with a potential freelance client and they booked me on the spot

How will you invest into your business in 2018?

It’s the time of year where a lot of people start thinking about their education for the coming year. What will you invest into that will bring you lasting value? And how much is that return worth to you? If you knew now that you could get a return of 4-10 times your money, what would you invest into? If I could give you one tip it's this: consider business coaching. You won't regret it!

Want to pick my brain about any of these investments? Let's set up a free 30 min call and chat!

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3 Lessons I Learned From My Most Difficult Clients

Every business owner has a nightmare client-the kind that makes you wonder why you left your stable job to work with these people.  I've had a handful in the past few years, but quitting was never a more serious consideration than in two particular cases. Both times left me with sleepless nights, a bitter taste in my mouth and a feeling of hopelessness. I felt like the only light at the end of the tunnel was closing the doors and going back to substitute teaching.

The two clients that made me want to quit

I attracted two clients into our business that made me want to quit. Both were ugly scenarios-low pay, high work, degrading treatment, and ultimately left me asking if owning a business was really worth it. Both clients left me asking “why did this happen? I genuinely cared for these people and wanted to serve them!” While I can’t change another person, the reality is, when I took a step back, I could see ways I could take responsibility even before they booked with us.

The one mistake I made to attract my worst clients

While I may have tweaked our sales call format, and finessed our client care process since then, the reality is that the single misstep I made was this:

I was desperate.

And because I was desperate, I wasn’t confident in my value. I wasn’t comfortable with each of these clients walking away from us and felt like my business depended on them booking us. We felt like we NEEDED them to hire us...even though it was a bad fit.

3 lessons I learned from my worst clients

Lesson #1: Trust your gut

I recently read about a study done on a group of women who were well versed in the luxury handbag market. They shopped for, owned, and resold luxury handbags regularly and, in this study, they were shown two identical looking bags-a designer and a knock off. They were divided into groups and given two chunks of time to identify the real designer bag. The first group was given 5 seconds to identify the designer handbag and the second group was given 30 seconds. The 5 second group identified the designer bag with startling accuracy while the 30 second group always struggled to choose the correct bag.

Moral of the story: when you’re well-versed in something, trusting your gut will prove more accurate than spending time contemplating all the options. When you're experienced, more time to choose a plan usually leads you to overthink things. If you have the experience to back you, trust your gut reaction.

Lesson #2: Be the expert guide

Because I was learning and growing, I didn’t know how to guide my clients. I went through adolescent phases of trying to do so-eagerly agreeing with them and letting them feel like I was their enthusiastic cheerleader, trying to be aloof toward clients until they worshipped me (isn’t that like, super luxury??), but ultimately, the best approach for me was to be an expert guide.

This means that I’m fully confident in my value and expertise, but I guide my clients with recommendations and experience. I use helpful words like “recommend” and “suggest” instead of “should” and “only.” This allows me to share my knowledge when it’s wanted, but still gives my clients full decision making liberty.

And ultimately, I’m not God-things could go far differently than I thought-there are always precedent-setting circumstances in my line of work. I don’t want to have pressured my clients into something and then have it come back on me afterward if something goes poorly. I want my clients to have the best information to make the decisions that make them happiest.

And when I started applying this approach, my clients trusted me even more as a vast wealth of knowledge and a trusted resource they could rely on.

Lesson #3: Believe in your value

Believing in my value ultimately came down to needing to change my mindset. Instead of a scarcity-driven belief that the client in front of me was my golden ticket to my next paycheck, I began adopting the belief that the clients I wanted were already out there for me and they’d find me in the right time. There was plenty for everyone and I’d have enough (clients, pay, work, publicity, etc). Just this shift in my thinking created a much more relaxed, positive, and confident approach.

Now our meetings have become much more like a great date. By the end, I’m willing to leave without a kiss goodnight and they are only leaving if we have a second date scheduled. Ideal, right?

You'd better believe that these lessons created massive shifts in our business! Drop a comment below-have you been burned by a client before? What have you learned from it?

3 steps you can take now to adopt a growth mindset | Madison, WI Business coach for female creative entrepreneurs

If you’ve followed and/or identified with my story about recognizing my fixed mindset, (my childhood story and my business story, 6 signs you have a fixed mindset) you’re likely wondering “what can I do about it?” Thankfully, with dedication, these 3 simple tools will help you start catching your fixed mindset and choosing a growth mindset! Do you already do any of these? Which has been most helpful? Comment below and share!

3 simple steps you can take to adopt a growth mindset

1. Journal toward a growth mindset

Journaling itself can be deeply therapeutic, but specific techniques in journaling can help reveal and release long held blocks and old mindset patterns. Here are a few techniques that helped me:

Morning pages

I would get up in the morning and journal freestyle for 10 minutes. For me, this looked like a lot of prayers. It allowed me to unload the negative thoughts I woke up with, worries, fears, and general overwhelm off my brain and give it someplace else to live. You can get Morning Pages journals like this one, but I personally just got up and wrote in my "ugly purple notebook." That notebook is filled with heartbreak, hope, prayers, ideas, growth, and change. It's ugly, but I love it to death!

Story Brand Productivity sheets

I’d follow up my morning pages time with a productivity sheet, helping me assess procrastination, and separate the important tasks (things that moved my bottom line forward) from the frenetic pace of the everyday to-do list. For those feeling like they're constantly spinning wheels and not actually moving their business forward, try this tool-it's amazing!

Cognitive behavioral therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy is a deeply powerful (and simple!) way to begin retraining your brain on how to think surrounding problems themselves. People with fixed mindsets often view problems as insurmountable. Any form of a next step is unlikely because just the fact that they faced opposition was a sign of failure, so the only response to a problem is to freeze. CBT suggests that you should record the problem, along with 3 truths surrounding the problem to reframe how you think about it.

Brainstorming

 I never knew how to brainstorm. This reinforced the idea that I could think of solutions to my problems and I could solve them for myself. Since problems or opposition was a sign that I was a failure, I would meet a problem and just freeze. Learning to brainstorm was the most powerful tool I developed! All of a sudden, I was making progress and these massive mountains became small mounds to simply step over.

2. Speak out loud to shift how you think

There’s a profound connection between what you talk about and what your brain subconsciously wants. The more you talk about something out loud, the more likely it is to happen.

I found that, once I listened to myself, I was extremely harsh on myself. I’d regularly walk around my home saying things like “Stephanie, you stupid idiot. Who does that?” It’s so sad to think that those are actual words that I regularly spoke to myself-things that are too unkind to even say to others. But I believed it.

I began catching myself saying those harsh things and correcting myself out loud, like this: “No, I’m an intelligent woman, created lovingly by God. I am doing too many things at once and lost focus, because I’m human. It’s okay.” It was like giving myself a little side hug and giving myself permission to be imperfect and regroup. I had no clue I was so hard on myself until I listened to myself and began changing that.

If you're not someone who talks out loud to yourself like me (haha!), it's still deeply powerful to speak truth about yourself, God, your goals, and your abilities. 

3. Seek professional help

I saved the scariest for last. Asking for help is so tough-it feels like a failure or defeat! I felt like if I told people I was seeing a counselor or working with a business coach, they'd judge me as crazy or incapable, like I was admitting to everyone I was a mess. Aren't we all? Why did I think admitting that should be a problem? But, when I swallowed my pride and reached out to people, asking for help, I found that my biggest growth happened during that season. I needed that extra support and felt proud that I asked for it! (as should you, if you do!)

 Please know that if you are working to change your mindset, it’s okay to ask for help. It’s okay to ask someone to walk that journey with you and it’s okay to be vulnerable with someone you trust. You don't need to share that with anyone-just take the next right step.  

I sought help after my last miscarriage and after realizing that my business was in an 8 month lull of no bookings. I was broken hearted and burned out. So I sought help. For me, that looked like seeing a counselor in my church to help me mend my heart along with working with a business coach who specialized in mindset and removing blocks. I worked on my heart, my mind, and my business and it moved me forward with support, and love. I couldn’t have made such massive shifts in my life without these two precious women. 

Should we work together on your mindset?

If you’d like support as you work to shift your mindset, let’s talk! I’m a business coach who’s been there and I have resources and support ready for you.

Here’s how you can work with me on releasing your fixed mindset and embracing a growth mindset as you build your business:

Join the Inspired Business Mastermind

Stephanie’s Private Coaching

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How to Spot a Fixed Mindset | My Story (Pt 2)

Growing up with a fixed mindset meant that, unless I lived a very specific set of circumstances, my life was going to unravel. And, little did I know it, but the unraveling was coming.

Pushing others, but backing myself into a corner

Shortly after Stephen and I got married, Stephen share more of his heart with his business. I grew excited to support his vision, and even pushed him wayyyyy outside of his comfort zone. Shortly after Stephen started feeling a bit more confident in his business, he bought me a camera and booked his first wedding with me as his second shooter.

All of a sudden all that encouragement and pushing I did was back on me and I was backed into a corner! I swallowed my pride and took on this ONE WEDDING, telling him that I felt better behind the scenes. I could answer his emails and keep track of his numbers. I set up a few spreadsheets, and kept up with his inbox pretty well, until he saw my emails and began weighing in on how they were worded. I immediately told him I couldn't keep up with his emails and sent them back to him.

This kept happening. I’d try something, it wouldn’t go as planned, and I’d write it off as a “never again” task. If Stephen brought up trying a new marketing idea, or testing out a new client response, I would get so defensive that I’d start crying within a minute of the conversation, leaving him completely bewildered.

Despite this difficulty, we began booking at a fast pace, raising our prices aggressively, and still finding ourselves at max capacity. I figured I didn't need to work on these glaring personal issues because I had bigger things to do. 

How my fixed mindset met its limits

A few years into this venture, I lost my main job, which became the first part of my unraveling. My education job had been safe, easy, and what everyone else thought I was “meant to do.” Losing that job as I sat with a friend in the Target Starbucks made my head spin. I was terrified to tell anyone I was no longer a teacher. It’s what I was “supposed” to do-I had a degree in it!

Due to the high number of bookings we already had for the following year, I decided to test out the concept of working for the business full time. I quickly realized that I’d have to do the tasks I feared most and assumed that I’d figure it out or make Stephen keep doing them. But figuring it out turned into procrastination, anxiety, sleeplessness, chronic headaches, jaw clenching and teeth grinding, and a constant stream of emotional highs and lows.

I was resting on the laurels of my husband’s hard work, marketing for us and planning our strategies, things which he passed off to me, not knowing that I was avoiding them out of intense fear. I didn’t realize it, but my fixed mindset was running on borrowed time and about a year into my full time business ownership, the debtors came calling.

The year that my mindset met it's limits, I had big plans. We had 20 beautiful weddings on the books, and I was going to land a ton of blog features to gain publicity as my main marketing plan. As we photographed beautiful weddings and neared 6 figures, the numbers looked good, but my one trick marketing pony wasn't working. 

It was our biggest year yet and I was positive I’d have a lot of press surrounding our work. As that year came to a close, I began to panic. My one-trick marketing plan hadn’t worked and we had zero weddings booked for the following year after our largest fiscal year ever. HOW HAD THIS HAPPENED???

I’d wake up daily feeling this deep sense of inadequacy, spend my days spinning in circles, and wake up in the middle of the night panicked about the year to come. I started looking up grocery store jobs and substitute teaching again.

What caused my fixed mindset to unravel

Here’s what happened: Stephen’s hard work had an expiration date. It wasn’t going to last forever, but I was coasting on his marketing groundwork, trying to ignore the fact that I needed to learn some important skills before time would run out. But I didn't. And time did indeed run out.  

I was ignoring marketing because I didn't understand it. If I didn't immediately understand it, it meant I was "bad at it" and would need to put forth effort. I was too scared to learn and try strategies in marketing and as I approached this expiration time frame, I grew paralyzed at the idea of failure. So I made it my practice to “sit really still and breathe.” No, it wasn’t a meditation practice, it was all I felt I could do without taking risks. With the pressures weighing down from all sides, I felt so trapped that the most I could do was just breathe and not move. If I so much as twitched, everything would come crashing down on me.

I finally confessed my panic to Stephen and told him about our booking issues and how they related to my avoidance of the things I couldn't understand. Now he knew what I had done and we were on the same page. As we were beginning to brainstorm solutions, my life turned upside down and that conversation had to wait. And here’s where the rest of the unravelling happened.

A season of loss and rebuilding

As we began the new year, I was ready to toast to the baby we expected to bring into the world in August. But instead, I was met with a miscarriage. During the process, my doctor and I found that I had likely had previous miscarriages and just didn’t know what they were. I was shocked and devastated. Shocked that this had actually happened, and devastated that my body had failed me.

Shortly thereafter, I lost a business deal and friendship that left me heartbroken. The business deal promised to provide a year’s worth of income and the friendship had been a deep and sweet one. My life had again unraveled and I was in the midst of a depression. Again, I felt like everything I touched was falling apart and, if I just sat still, nothing bad would happen anymore.

It was at this time that I was at my lowest. I was a failure in business, my body had failed me, and I couldn’t identify who I was and what my purpose was. I ate for comfort and gained 30 pounds during my season of heartbreak. I felt like I had nothing else. It’s honestly still so raw to talk about this dark time in my life. I feel so sad for that girl and still carry her pain.

But it was during this quiet season that God picked up the pieces and began rebuilding. I hired a business coach and began seeing a counselor. During the dark, quiet times, I began reading, journaling, listening to podcasts, and learning. And I began feeling sparks of interest again. I have what I call my “ugly purple notebook” that I have lugged all over my house for the better part of  a year, filled with prayers, anguish, heartbreak, to-do lists, panic, more to-do lists, but slowly, it started filling with hope, interest, excitement, ideas, and plans. As I learned and grew, I started seeing my depressive fog lift. I began learning how to identify and shift my mindset from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset.

Now, for the first time in my life, I’m bringing in money all by myself! I’m marketing not one, but two businesses on my own! I’m coaching other creatives, feel completely alive in what I do, and have something to say. I’ve learned to grow, assess old habits creeping in, and feel confident stating my value to potential clients. I am so deeply proud of myself and thankful for the journey God has given me. That I can say that I’m proud of myself is a sign of growth in and of itself! Now, I’m the one bringing up marketing strategy conversations with Stephen and, if he points out a weak area, I’m not dissolving into tears, I’m instead strategizing a plan to grow and learn from it.

My story is one many people share. In upcoming blog posts, I'm going to lay out the key identifiers of a fixed mindset and a growth mindset, my favorite resources for change, and steps you can take to shift your mindset. If you identify with anything I’ve shared so far, please shoot me an email-I’d love to hear your story. 

Welcome to the Successful Creative!

Welcome to The Successful Creative, a place where we can walk the journey together of monetizing your creative passion, learning to strengthen our mindsets, and think and dream bigger.

My story learning to be a successful creative

Hi! My name is Stephanie and I'm so glad you're here! I am launching this blog as a result of five years of hard work, learning curves, and growth as a wedding photographer. I'm at a point in my journey where I recognize that my love of teaching coupled with my experience running a business could encourage and serve others on their journeys. Here's a bit about my story:

Matching my natural skills with a job description

I grew up with a penchant for teaching. I would collect all the kids in my neighborhood and lead them on wild expeditions, I would “play teacher” and I would “teach gymnastics classes.” (I can't even do a cartwheel...I don't know how I got my friends to attend gymnastics classes!!) Whatever I learned, I wanted to share with the kids in the neighborhood...even if I wasn't an expert. Becoming an elementary teacher seemed like a natural progression of my life’s narrative, right?

After college, I had two interesting jobs: I was a crisis and trauma counselor for college aged girls for several years and then I taught elementary school. Each job ignited my desire to connect with others, encourage them, and teach them.

Pretty soon, however my natural intuition for connecting with people, drawing out their best assets, and then teaching them, was crowded out by paperwork, school politics, test results, and scripted, unimaginative plans (hey, my ideal reading lessons involved building trees in my classroom. Worksheets? notsomuch) I felt suffocated and wondered if I’d ever actually do the thing I loved: teaching.

Jumping into small business ownership

During this time, I met my now husband, Stephen. By the time we got married, he had trained me well and added me to his photography business. So as a newlywed, I jumped headfirst into helping someone with their business. I was thrilled to encourage him, believe in him and troubleshoot HIS business for a few months until I realized he viewed it as OUR business. As soon as I had skin in the game, I began backpedaling REAL quick. I was filled with intense fear, self-doubt, hurts, and a scarcity driven mindset leaving me feeling desperate with each new business hurdle.

Over the next few years, I had to work through some major mindset issues, anxieties, and recalibrate my view of myself, my purpose, and my life’s calling. Along the way, I found that there were elements to running a business that I was naturally adept at. There were elements that tapped into my desire to connect with others as well as my penchant for being a bit of a pipe dreamer. But no matter how big I dreamed, my fears and mindset issues were like concrete blocks around my feet. I couldn't actually go anywhere!

But, God knew where I was and as I prayed for change, He sent me on a journey of change that I look forward to sharing with you soon.

Running a business through roadblocks

One of my first roadblocks was a really simple one-dealing with opposition. I think the first thing that appealed to me about wedding photography was the affirmation! I mean, I picked up a camera and people were praising me and throwing money at me. Wow, it felt kind of addicting! I think I may not be the only one who began her journey with the addiction to affirmation!

But reality quickly set in when we experienced our first bit of opposition-someone questioning our value instead of throwing money at us, someone stating that they weren’t happy with the experience we provided instead of just gleefully praising my skills. All of a sudden, things got really real and I had to determine if I was going to continue to live for affirmation or if I was going to build a business that rose above opposition to achieve greatness. 

What is a successful creative?

Chances are that you’re here because you like the idea of being a successful creative. You want to be successful and you yearn to create new things. But you may feel like you have one or the other right now. You may even be in the place of experiencing your first bit of opposition in a journey that’s been filled with affirmation. If that’s you, I want you to know that you’re not alone. What you’re going through is one of your biggest tests to determine how serious you are about being a successful creative. I believe you have what it takes. And where you feel weak, I have you covered. 

With each growing pain I experienced, I wrote about it, asked myself “what tools do I wish I had while going through this?” and then I created them for you! So you can expect this to be a place where you can find resources to help you on your journey to building a profitable business.

I plan to serve you really great, honest content on this blog and via email because I believe that the journey I’ve been on has taught me deep and powerful lessons about how to run a profitable creative business and I want to share that with you.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing more of my story and I’d love to know about yours. Comment below and let us know what do you do and what are you proud of in your business? Brag on yourself and let us cheer you on!