How Taking A Step (or Two or Three) Backwards Could Be Setting You Up for A Giant Leap Forward

Last Monday, I briefly mentioned a particularly difficult phase of dream-chasing: the tear-streaked, anxiety-filled, doubt-fueled phase of not-enough-sleep.

(If you missed it, no worries! You can catch up here.)

I know, I really know—it’s a tough phase to be in. And there are probably many of you reading this right now who have thought recently “do I even want my dream badly enough to doing all of this!?” 

It’s a big, scary question, and I know because I asked myself the same exact question too many times to count. In the final year of my last corporate job, I’d find myself taking a walk around 3pm almost every day, because I just needed to get out of the building for a moment or I would prematurely quit my job. I usually ended up nearby in Calhoun Square, sitting on a bench and crying on the phone to my mom that I just.can’t.do.this.anymore. I was exhausted, I couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, and I wasn’t sure I could handle a full-time day job and almost full-time side hustle much longer. 

(Fun Fact: I call that square “The Crying Square” now, and last year I actually got to shoot a wedding ceremony there—talk about coming full circle!)

(Fun Fact: I call that square “The Crying Square” now, and last year I actually got to shoot a wedding ceremony there—talk about coming full circle!)

Thankfully at that point, I was less than a year from quitting my corporate job (I just didn't know it at the time). But about five years ago there was a point in my journey when I wasn't even a little bit close to becoming a full-time photographer. And I was drowning. Between a full time job and a side hustle, I was burning myself out FAST and the hobby I loved was quickly turning into an overwhelming source of stress.

So friend, you know what I did? I took AN ENTIRE YEAR off shooting. I literally put my camera down and said NOPE, can’t do this right now. I spent the year focusing on my health and my happiness, and spoiler alert--ultimately I couldn't stay away from photography. I missed it, and I wanted it back in my life in a healthier way.

When I started shooting again, I stopped booking my wedding clients for two years. I focused simply on being a second-shooter and booking my own family shoot clients, and I wasn't even pursuing going full-time with photography. I simply enjoyed shooting in lower-pressure situations on the weekend for awhile. And after spending that time learning more about how to manage clients, streamlining my editing process, and falling back in love with shooting weddings, I was ready for the final phase of dream-chasing--and yes, that included time in the Crying Square and plenty of stress, but I had used the time of rest and restoration to prepare me for the final push.

I needed to take those majors steps “backwards” for my health and sanity, and guess what—THAT IS OK. Decisions like that are actually super necessary sometimes.

So, my advice to you in this difficult phase of dream-chasing is to be kind to yourself and be patient with the process. If you need to dial back the hustle for a time to stay sane and stay in the race, do it! 

 Ivy Chris Engagement Photos

Because here’s the secret—the dream isn’t going anywhere. If it’s truly what you’re meant to do, the drive to keep moving forward will be there after you rest. The clients will come back—even if it means you need to lower your pricing or offer a few more free portfolio-building shoots. Sometimes a step (or two or three) backwards is just a setup for HUGE leaps forward.

So be kind to yourself, sweet dreamer. Take time for rest, but never stop dreaming.

Stay lovely,

 
 
 

P.S. Get stoked, because next week I’ll be talking about how to come back from a period of rest and re-tackle your dream with focus, commitment, and results!