When we think about branding photography, it’s hard to think of anyone but yourself – you are the star after all. But at a time when lots of people I know are feeling quite rubbish about themselves – those January Blues exemplified and extended far beyond where they’re welcome! – it’s hard to feel good, never mind feel like you love yourself.
I don’t know about you but I’m definitely carrying a few extra pounds, my hair I've posted but I think to encourage you to colour yours with a box dye and hazardly lop it off with a pair of nail scissors is irresponsible, I feel my fitness levels have decreased drastically from this time last year and I’m finding myself more demotivated than I’ve ever felt… not a great mood to be thinking about new headshots and personal branding images. And yet, I need to.
It’s so important for people to recognise me as me. The extra few pounds? If I get my outfit right, only I’ll really notice. My hair will be fine… fitness is irrelevant… my motivation simply needs a kick up the backside. The truth is I don’t 100% love myself and especially not how I come across in 98% of pictures but the problem now is not so much my appearance but how I feel.
Part of really loving yourself is being to tell whether your mood is simply low and needs a kick start – something exciting, new, vigorous, inspiring (an online shopping spree, a competed to-do-list, a successful workout, the creation of an impressive meal.) If that’s the case, push yourself towards it. And if it’s more than that, do the opposite. If mentally and physically you’re done, don’t spend hours struggling your way through tasks that should be wrapped up in one. Make time for you however you can - a leisurely walk, snuggle on the couch with a good book or your favourite feel good film, pick up the phone and talk to the person who always helps… I know there are deadlines (and children!) and sometimes they have to be met (or attention given) but there is a tipping point and when you fall over it, it’s much better to take a few hours out and restart refreshed than it is to keeping going and going and going – even the Energizer bunny runs out of steam at some point. When you hit that final crash it’s far more difficult to recover and usually requires weeks and not days out.
How do you tell if it’s motivation you need?
Check in with your feelings. Are you feeling positive or negative? That seems irrelevant, doesn’t it? It’s not. Think about the last productive day you had – what was your mood? And the most recent unproductive one? In order motivate yourself, you need to be able to feel good about what you’re doing. On a bad day, you need to train yourself to be more optimistic and you can do this by keeping an eye on all of your wins for the day – yes, even the teeny ones which seem completely insignificant, as each one helps you feel that what you’re doing is meaningful and gives you a real sense of purpose in what you’re doing.
It is possible - even likely - that you’ll experience setbacks during your day but by highlighting wins it also helps to stop any setbacks from overpowering your achievements. Rewards can help too. You can do something huge like buy yourself those coveted shoes if you’ve completed everything you wanted to by a set time or date, or it can be something as simple as an extra 30-minute break or a cup of tea and a treat when you reach each win (that’s my preference and on those days I’m really struggling, I drink a lot of tea!)
Another way to boost your productivity and increase your mood is to find an accountability partner – someone you trust to badger you when you’re falling behind and celebrate with you when you’re on top!
If you’ve tried these things and either they don’t work or don’t work consistently it could be that you have to dig a little deeper and ask yourself some tough questions.
Are you feeling motivated by some tasks and not others or is every part of your life being affected by a lack of motivation? If it’s everything, there could be something deeper you need to investigate, while a loss of task specific motivation means working out what about that task is problematic: do you simply dislike doing it, is it an area of weakness that you have to invest time to get better at, is it something you should outsource to someone else…?
Have you tried making yourself more accountable to yourself? I know I work much better for others than I do myself as I tend to rank things for others as more important. How about asking yourself what will happen if you do complete X versus what will happen if you don’t. If the negative consequences aren’t that significant to you, your work and your income, perhaps you should consider how important that particular task is. Are you trying to motivate yourself to do something that doesn’t really need done? On the other hand, if it’s something which has quite serious negative consequences, clearly outlining what these are might help to spur you into action and make you feel better about what you’re doing and why.
Are you a perfectionist? Remember, things don’t have to be perfect but if they’re essential to you, they do need to be done. There’s a real tendency to make sure that everything we do is perfect but things don’t become perfect until we’ve started, edited, re-edited, checked it and then edited it again. If the quest for perfection is holding you back, then you need to take a deep breath and just do whatever it is that needs to be done. Perfecting it can come later – it’s much better to get out of your head what you need to and come back it to with fresh eyes and a clear brain to perfect it later.
The worst thing you can is to forget about you. So, start truly learning to recognise the signs of when you need a kick up the backside or when it is more and you need a break. Your brain and your body will love you for it!