Maeghan + Andrew: The Better Version of You | Atlanta Wedding Photographer

Hey everyone! Decided to combine a blog about a recent engagement session at Piedmont Park with some great tips for 2015. Enjoy!

Possibly the most exciting thing about a new year as an Atlanta wedding photographer is that it carries with it an atmosphere of excitement, one of fresh ideas and new challenges to face and conquer. The gyms become flooded with individuals (guilty as charged) eager to put their New Year’s weight loss resolutions to the test. Lists are made and plans are laid out that detail ways in which we can all become a better version of ourselves. Maybe it’s about finally earning that degree that propels you into a better career path. Perhaps you want to start saving for that vacation to the Bahamas you’ve always promised yourself (check out this great link about saving money quickly :-) ). Maybe your goal is simple and it’s just about spending more time with the one’s you love. Whatever it is that will make you that better version, it all really just boils down to one initial thing: begin with the end in mind.

In March of 2014, Rochelle and I had already been engaged for a few months and we were searching for another way of bringing income into our new family. Then one day it dawned on us: why not turn our love for photography into a legitimate business? And with that thought, we were off, or so we thought.

You see, in our eagerness to accomplish our goal quickly, we neglected to really sit down and focus on the individual steps to take in our business that would eventually get us to our finish line of success. Because of this, countless days were spent agonizing over why the shaky business plan we had laid out wasn't working as quickly or as well as we wanted it to. Anyone who believes as we did in the beginning that being a wedding or portrait photographer means that all we do is pick up a camera, point it at our subjects, and get back awesome results (well we do have this one covered ;-) ) is misguided. Not when there are expense sheets to keep track of, sales taxes to account for and keep separate from regular income, websites and social media to maintain, advertising and marketing avenues to employ, client and professional relationships to build, and on top of it all, studying to maintain a competitive advantage over our peers in this ever-changing industry. 8 weddings, lots of trial and error, and numerous portrait sessions later, I think it’s more than safe to say that beginning with the end in mind, and having the patience and confidence that things would eventually work out how we wanted them to helped us keep our sanity.

Beginning with the end in mind is only a portion of your success equation for 2015. In order to get to that point, you’ll need to prepare for the unexpected. When Andrew initially reached out to Endless Memories Photography to photograph his surprise engagement to Maeghan, we were so excited and began working out all the details of the day. Needless to say, we thought we had it all down and ready to execute. The location? The beautiful Piedmont Park in Atlanta, GA of course. Check. The excuse to draw Maeghan there? Have her hang out with her best friend Casey for the day after telling her that Andrew is out with the guys on a weekend “camping” trip. Check. The ring? Check.

As with any surprise, we started thinking about all the things that could go wrong. What if Maeghan didn’t go to the exact spot that we needed her to be in at the exact and perfect moment as we had planned? What if the weather didn’t hold up and we had to move everything to an indoor location or worse had to cancel it altogether? Things really got funny and interesting when while we were at the park all set and ready to go, we learned that Meaghan was aware of a message that Andrew had sent when he was supposed to be away “camping” with the guys lol Talk about a woman’s intuition! We thought all of our plans were done for.

However, just as quickly as our doubts had arisen, they were calmed. In this case, Maeghan didn't find out about our plans. The weather was great. Everything went off without a hitch, leading to some of the most beautiful moments that we have captured to date. Things could have ended in disaster, but they didn’t. The key to our success? A little bit of luck, but, most importantly, preparation for the unexpected. If along the journey towards accomplishing your goals for 2015 you stumble, preparing in advance will help you hurdle any obstacles or road blocks that come your way. Struggling with bad eating habits? Pack and plan your meals in advance to avoid that extra 3 P.M. splurge before dinner. Find yourself whipping out your credit card way too often for purchases? Leave it at home and stop by the bank to take out the cash that you’ll need for the day to eliminate overspending. Remember that if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Success and accomplishing your goals is invested in how you prepare and conditioning your mind to think differently about things.

Finally, you have to come to terms with the fact that setting small, patience-inducing, attainable goals and being prepared for the unexpected alone won’t get you across the finish line. In order to be that better version of yourself in 2015, you have to employ a third tool that we've found to be successful: tackle those seemingly impossible tasks now so that you can live out today’s dreams tomorrow.

Warren Buffet, who is one of the wealthiest individuals in the world, is also viewed as one of the most successful investors of our time. When it comes down to setting priorities and then acting on them, you’d be hard pressed to find a better example than the story of how Buffett educated his long term personal airplane pilot, Mike Flint. (The following story is written by James Clear and can be found HERE as it is displayed below. Check out Clear’s website for many more resources on transforming your habits and mastering your creativity.)

The Story of Mike Flint

Mike Flint was Buffett’s personal airplane pilot for 10 years. (Flint has also flown four US Presidents, so I think we can safely say he is good at his job.) According to Flint, he was talking about his career priorities with Buffett when his boss asked the pilot to go through a 3-step exercise.

Here’s how it works…

STEP 1: Buffett started by asking Flint to write down his top 25 career goals. So, Flint took some time and wrote them down. (Note: you could also complete this exercise with goals for a shorter timeline. For example, write down the top 25 things you want to accomplish this week.)

STEP 2: Then, Buffett asked Flint to review his list and circle his top 5 goals. Again, Flint took some time, made his way through the list, and eventually decided on his 5 most important goals.

Note: If you’re following along at home, pause right now and do these first two steps before moving on to Step 3.

STEP 3: At this point, Flint had two lists. The 5 items he had circled were List A and the 20 items he had not circled were List B.

Flint confirmed that he would start working on his top 5 goals right away. And that’s when Buffett asked him about the second list, “And what about the ones you didn't circle?”

Flint replied, “Well, the top 5 are my primary focus, but the other 20 come in a close second. They are still important so I’ll work on those intermittently as I see fit. They are not as urgent, but I still plan to give them a dedicated effort.”

To which Buffett replied, “No. You've got it wrong, Mike. Everything you didn't circle just became your Avoid-At-All-Cost list. No matter what, these things get no attention from you until you've succeeded with your top 5.”

It’s inevitable: at some point in your journey towards this better version of yourself, you will have plenty of distractions that take your attention away from accomplishing your immediate goals. I can’t tell you how much more exciting a relaxing evening sounds with my PS4 browsing Netflix or playing Madden or Call of Duty, when compared to working on Search Engine Optimization, figuring out the amount of taxes we owe for our business, or researching the correct HTML code to get our logo centered properly on our website! Hands down the distractions will ALWAYS appear more attractive than what we really need to get accomplished. Don’t fall for the trap. Focus on your true priorities today so that your tomorrow can be even brighter.

Make 2015 all about becoming that better version of yourself. Take the reins of your life in your hands and steer yourself to the place where YOU want to be. You’ll be happy you did. Here’s to a great year and an even better you.