I am a photographer. It’s true, I wear many hats these days, but we’ll save that story for another post.
I took this photograph, or as I prefer to say, I created this image, this past weekend. It’s adorable. The family will love it. But can I be honest? After photographing professionally (this means I charge money and pay taxes on it), for 7 years, I lost faith in my gift/talent and was ready to move on. After some reflection and prayer, I realized I was just burnt out. God gave me a nice quiet break, which thankfully didn’t land us in the poor house, but did give me time to regain my breath and boost my confidence.
Here’s what I learned:
1. Your gift is your own. Stop comparing.
God gives us each different gifts. In any field, it’s easy to slide the slippery slope of comparison. The Bible sternly warns against this. Why? You know why- we typically compare ourselves to those we wish we were like. And when has comparing yourself to someone else made you feel better about yourself and more confident in God’s love for you? Um, never, is my guess. It’s a fruitless activity and we must STOP NOW!
HOW: Stop following anyone or any group on any social media, that doesn’t fuel your fire to be better, smarter, healthier, wiser….Not because they are the problem, but because you are not in a great position to celebrate others while not criticizing yourself.
2. Breath. Rest and take a break, so you don’t pass out.
I hate running. It’s true, and I admit it freely. But when I do run, I strive to not pass out. This means I take deep breaths and if I need to, I stop and slow down to regain my strength. This is good practice in life. When you are giving all you have to your gift, you can sometimes forget to breath because you are pressing so hard towards the goal/finish line. It’s okay to rest, or just take a short break. Build your strength back up (so you an stop comparing yourself to others, love what you do again, and refocus your vision). You can’t win, if you pass out on the track.
HOW: Take a break. Put down your craft. If you can’t stop all together, put some new boundaries on it, and take time to rest your body and mind.
3. Continuing Education
Most professionals, teachers, nurses, doctors, and others, have to take continuing education classes to stay current in their field. Learning triggers our brains in different ways than a repetitive process does. It will get you thinking about your work in a new way and hopefully will inspire your passion again.
HOW: If you are feeling discouraged or burnt-out, take a class in your field, or any field you have interest in.
4. Return to your first love.
Remember when you LOVED what you did? (If not, maybe you are in the wrong spot, and I think Jon Acuff has a few books for that.) But if you did once love it, go back there. For me, and photography, it was when I did it for fun, and it wasn’t a business. So a few months ago, I went back to making it fun. Keeping it on my terms. I called up some friends, and took their family photos, just for fun. No pressure to turn out an amazing product they would print 30×40″ and hang above the fire place.
HOW: Retrace your steps to the originality of you gift. Do those simple first things you started with again. If you are a baker, bake a pie for your neighbor. If you are a seamstress, make something for yourself. If you are a book-keeper, offer to help a single mom with her budgeting.
I am happy to report, I found my groove again. I regained my confidence. I re-followed some of those awesome photographers I had unfollowed, in order to be inspired to improve, not because it discouraged my progress. I got back to work, and my work is better (at least I think so). It’s fun again. And best of all, I am using my gift to bless others, just the way God intended it.