End of 2016

Recontextualizing your life’s priorities takes a lot of awareness. By default, we generally have this reaction to simply bow our heads, meander through life and somehow expect our hopes to kinda work themselves out at the end. But apparently we now know that's not enough. Studies have shown “you become 42% more likely to achieve your goals and dreams, simply by writing them down on a regular basis.” I’ve never done this before. I have no idea why. I mean, I've read books and listened to countless podcast of people speaking so highly of the process. It makes total sense though doesn’t it? When you have the ability to see where you’re headed, the walk becomes much easier. But like a lot of things in life, we tend to know what we need to do and yet we don’t make a concerted effort to stick to the life-plan others have so graciously shared with us, especially when it’s worked for them.

I’ve never been a New Year's resolutions person. I'm aware of how it serves as a great time to reconsider one’s values, to "acknowledge the complexities of a given year" and ultimately to set that groundwork for a better year ahead but my question is, couldn't we have pivot and adjusted anytime during the year as oppose to waiting for a new one? I'm not sure if I've succeeded at this myself but I've tried to. Either way, at 34, I feel as though I’m at an age where time has become a defining consideration for everything. Just like anyone else, I want my time to matter and to account for something, especially as it seems like there might be less of it as the kids get older and far less if we haven’t taken the time to visualize what we hope our ideal life to look like.

As the New Year begins, I could potentially sit here and extend my time here at this local coffee shop to try to come up with a set of well-thought out inspirational things to say but as Jon Acuff once said, “90% perfect and published always changes more lives than 100% perfect and stuck in your head.” So with that in mind, I rather list a few things I feel I need to work on in 2017 in order to become the best version of myself as possible:

Saying No - this is utterly easy to do when we have our principles in check. I like to think I’ve done a great job at declining gigs which might have had the potential to pay good. A good indicator for such decision has always been that if I wasn’t excited to execute or even have the crazy enthuasiasm to do the work pro-bono then that’s an immediate flag for me not to commit. Selfishly and in a way altruistically, I can only commit to opportunities that assist me in gettting closer to where I want to be with my photography.

Volunteering - A did a few of these in 2016. Volunteering in that I donated my photographic services towards causes I felt strongly about. What if you’re interested in doing the same but you don’t necessarily know how to go about it? Believe it or not, there’s an app for that and it’s called DEED. At the moment of writing this, I haven’t had the opportunity to test it out yet but as soon as my schedule aligns with a volunteering opportunity, I will most certainly enroll! And by the way, the secret to happiness is helping others.

Family First - There’s been instances where I’ve been so caught up on wanting to do a shoot with someone or a place too much that it’s caused me to relinquish the chance to spend time with family and there’s been no bigger guilt than that. Like anyone else, family is super important to me and I shouldn’t allow myself to be put in a position where I have to choose between family and my photography because there should be no question as to where the pendulum should swing more towards on that.

Travel - By far the most memorable trip of 2016 was Cuba. The trip itself was a lot like a left hook in boxing as it strikes you across the face. The chances of you remembering an experience like that are augmented since you really didn’t didn’t see it coming. Aside from family vacation, I personally have a few places in mind I would love to visit which include Brazil and my parent’s home country El Salvador.

Read - I may not necessary agree with the excessive flaunting of his possessions but what I do respect about Tai Lopez is that as he does it, he consistently provides insane value on any of his social media outlets. He’s a huge advocate of reading. In fact he's known for devouring several books a week, and while I may not necessarily have the time to compete against him, I’ve certainly become an avid reader now than I ever was in school. There’s a huge difference when you read material you’re actually interested in as oppose to reading stuff based of a curriculum you have to fulfill.

Sleep More - The difficult I've had with this particular goal is that when it's comes to anything related to the side hustle of photography, it all typically gets done once the kids have fallen asleep. Actual photo shoots I'll plan out in advance on days off but the actual editing, writing, etc, I'll typically stay up until 11pm to work on during the week, because that’s when I can, in spite of having to wake up at 6am to get ready for work.

Write More - The reason I use to write more was because I used it as a way to compensate for not shooting enough. But I want to get better at this. Sometimes I would get so fixated on wanting to publish material I feel would be of value to people that it leaves me paralyzed at the thought and I’m left scouring for stuff rather than just write from the heart and share the struggle that most creatives go through. That is the kind of stuff that I assume will resonate more with people as oppose to telling you that everything is golden because it's not.

Living Minimally - Ah yes! After having seen The Minimalism documentary, I can tell you I walked away inspired and on a mission to literally want to give sh*t away which probably shouldn’t have been purchased in the first place. I've always adhered to the motto "it's not a bargain if I don't need it" and yet you'd be surprise how much stuff has still lingered and randomly accumulates after unneccesary visit to IKEA. If you haven’t seen the documentary, I highly recommend it. Sometimes as a parent, you’re inherently inclined to want to treat your kids to every new trinkets they hassle you about but more and more, I’ve diverted their attention from wanting things to instead enjoying experiences.

Embrace Being Uncomfortable - In hindsight, it may not necessarily feel like it in the moment but I could certainly tell you that a bit of discomfort in your life goes a long way in terms of personal development. I’m all about routines because it sets a template for me to accomplish things in any given day without have to overthink situations such as what to have for breakfast, what best route to take to work or which gym workout to perform. I’m not fan of the word “networking” but it’s a vital component of any side hustle, which is why I’m working towards being more proactive to seek new photographic opportunities as oppose to relying on wishful thinking.

That’s pretty much it! I’m curious to know what you feel you need to improve on with the intent to become a better version of yourself. Let me know! I’m honestly curious to know!