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Mental health is the number one thing that is overlooked by many people, not just photographers & wedding pros. And it’s more than just mindset. I’m talking here about the true MENTAL HEALTH of your inner self. Not just how you think about one thing or another. For that, just get started by reading the ever-popular book Mindset by Carol Dweck.
If you haven’t read that book, get it. Read it. Cover to cover. It can be a bit dry at points, but I promise you it’s worth your time.
I want to help you with your mental health, but it’s so hard for me to do that without knowing you personally – and without being formally trained in that area. So, the best I can do is write this blog post from my personal experiences. I promise I will keep this as short as I can, but I really could write an entire book about it. (Let me know if you would be interested in reading something like that from the bases of a creative entrepreneur).
I’m normally a very private person and don’t share much about my personal life, but I wanted to open it up a little bit here in case it helps you in any way. After all, I know how lonely that life can seem – especially in the world of today where all we have to do is check up on “friends” via social media. But that face-to-face interaction like we used to have prior to the world of social media has taken a drastic dip. And that’s multiplied even more after the grand ‘ol age of 30. Sure, you can take a more firm stance on “getting out” more often and taking control of sending out invites and hosting people – but after 10+ years of doing that, it’s exhausting by itself.
I am an introverted extrovert.
I am a helper.
I work to live. Not live to work.
More specifically, I set business goals specifically to achieve personal ones. Not just to hit certain benchmarks in business. I could honestly care less about that. What I do care about is people. Real people. Real people who show respect, more specifically.
Early on, and without any real reason, I had hypochondria related to health issues since I was probably 10 or so. Just sort of came out of nowhere, but it basically paralyzed decisions about really anything. It affected my schoolwork at the time, my social life, my family life, and well – me. It made me want to stay inside and in my safe zone. And certainly away from bees. Haha.
Whenever I felt something weird going on with me – it was straight to thoughts of “well, I have cancer now. Awesome.” Yep. Intense. And please understand that I know that’s nothing to joke about. I can’t tell you why out of the privacy of loved ones, but just know that I know the evil nature of cancer.
That hypochondria followed me throughout middle school, high school, and most of university while I got my Bachelor of Business.
But it got to a point that I really and honestly just didn’t want to deal with it. It was still affecting my school performance, my grades, my focus, my romantic relationships, my dating life, my family life. All of it.
So what did I do back then to try and overcome my own hypochondria? I did what the best of us do. Try to ignore it. Push it down. Bury it. Then overcompensate by treating myself and my body like it’s completely invincible. I partied hard (like most teenagers and early-mid 20-somethings), and I drank until the sun rose when finding those really good parties and festivals. I was single and doing what I could to make new friends at every turn. I was your quintessential social butterfly. And I loved being social. It was a part of my identity from 22-26.
But what didn’t they know about me?
They didn’t know that I was always having these internal battles. There was always a zig-zag of decision-making that was happening within my mind. So, I took pills subscribed by the good ‘ol Western doc. The medication helped suppress those thoughts and it evened out my mood overall, but medication also created other health issues that I personally believe are lasting until this very day.
Anxiety led to depression. Depression led to sickness.
Sickness led to anxiety. Anxiety led to depression.
Nasty circle, right?
I wanted to get better.
I didn’t know how.
I didn’t even want to admit I had a problem.
But I was sick and tired of it.
So I got help. I went to the doctor. They referred me. And before you knew it, I was seeing a therapist.
All it took was one session to get some mindset blocks out of my own way to really start thinking about my anxiety in a different light. And I am going to share with you really simply with what helped me in the biggest way imaginable. Ready for it? Here it is…
When the therapist and I started talking about how so many others suffer from anxiety (of any kind) and depression, it lifted this huge weight off of my shoulders. It was so impactful for me to fully realize that there are others like me out there – but just nobody talks about it. Because like me, they are either in denial, or they are embarrassed about what they consider to be flaws in their personality.
Anxiety is not a flaw.
Depression is not a flaw.
They are incredibly normal in our society.
It’s just important that we know about it (internally) so we can address it. That’s STEP ONE.
STEP TWO would be to try and identify what works for YOU to overcome that anxiety and/or depression. And that’s where it’s not so black-and-white. Because everybody is different. So in this blog, I will simply share with you what has worked well for me, personally.
Over time, I wanted off those pills that I mentioned above. I wanted the real me back. I didn’t want to live in what felt like a fog. I wanted to strengthen my own mind without relying on external sources – of any kind. Not medication. Not alcohol. Not sex. Nothing. I wanted to first learn how to center myself. I wanted to learn how to make myself happy and negative-thought-free without relying on these other things.
So what did I do that made the biggest impact out of all those things listed above?
Mostly, I tried to identify the things that gave me the most amount of peace (the most amount of balance compared to what I do for a living). I then also did my best to combine that with exercise, meditation, and removing negative people from my life. More specifically, running became my therapy. I ran a lot. I ran miles every single day. And then I started to run with a weighted pack because I got bored from how far I was running. The exercise gave me a natural high. It released endorphins. It made me feel good. It made me physically look good. And those things combined made me have a higher confidence level. And that confidence level helped me be more social, go on more dates, and make more decisions in life in general. The cycle went on.
When I wasn’t exercising though, it was easy to fall back into bad habits and lines-of-thought that weren’t healthy. They were just making me get in my own way.
But at least I now knew that.
I wanted to see what I could do that didn’t require exercise. I wanted to see if I could just manage my thoughts and my attitude without any outside source. At all.
So, I stopped drinking, stopped partying, stopped exercising, and just lived.
Right away, my energy went down. My libido went down. My stomach started getting softer. And I just became more complacent with laying around the house and not getting out. NOPE. No thanks.
Over the course of the coming months and years, it was doing what I could to find a healthy balance of everything. Then not finding time for those things… but MAKING time for those things. Just like everyone else’s life, my life feels busy. It feels like I’m always doing something… but some of those things are honestly just a huge waste of time. You know, like doing “busy work” — the things that don’t generate new business.
Ever since then, it made me truly want to find a balance of all things awesome.
I wanted to make money now that I had more focus. Because after battling anxiety for so many years, it felt like I was truly a new person. So, I wanted to set some stretch goals for myself. And at the time, that stretch goal financially was $150,000 a year.
Though hard work and serious grit, I eventually made $150,000.
Then I wanted $250,000.
Then I made that. (After investing into a lot of different coaches and applying what they taught me, then trusting my gut on other things)
Then I realized that I was happier at $150,000 then I was at $250,000. But we will leave that for an entirely different blog post or podcast episode.
The bottom line is that with the extra income for me, that also came with a heck of a lot of extra work, building teams, hiring and firing people, and managing way more than I was ever used to. And with that growth came a larger audience… and a lot of Internet bullies, Facebook trolls, and just downright cruel people. It came with people backstabbing me, talking shit behind my back, judging me before really ever getting to know me, and my time being taken advantage of by more people than I can count.
Personally, I chose a business path (coaching, courses, and services) to legitimately help people.
I chose to help people because I didn’t have a mentor when I felt like I needed one. And now that I have the ability to be one for others is incredible. And it takes a lot of energy just to try and ignore the bullies and the haters that come with digital marketing at scale.
So, a few months ago… I shut off all of my ads I was running.
I took a big hit financially doing that, but the most important thing to me was again my mental health.
I don’t care the slightest about money if I’m not making the biggest impact I can for other people’s lives. And so, I turned inwards about how I can do that. Now, my course bundle price has been slashed in HALF to be more easily accessible to those who want to truly learn how to grow their photography and/or wedding business. And I have added other services and programs to help a smaller group of people with a lot more intention.
I’m now serving fewer people as result of the ads being shut off, but my mental health has been improving ever since. And with that learning lesson, I am now putting more of my energy into those who hire me for 1:1 coaching, who are a part of my inner circle (available to course students only), those who want custom ShowIt websites, and those who book me for done-for-you services.
Simply put, moving forward, I am putting more of my time, energy, and resources into the people who respect me, respect my time, and know the value they get when working with me.
Blunt, but that’s the honest truth.
And not because of money. But because of my mental health. And to focus on bigger results for that circle of people.
Helping people make transformations in their lives makes me happy.
And to truly get people bigger transformations, I need to give them more of my time. And that’s 100% okay. They just need to hire me to get that time.
And ever since I even came up with the idea (in part due to the help and clarity I got from my own business coach)… you know what happened?
I became happier.
I became more clear.
I became more of myself.
I started booking more work.
And you’re damn right that I’m going to make an even bigger impact for the people who I work with.
If this post resonated with you, please let me know.
If you want to hire me, my family and I are eternally grateful.
We’re all in this together. Let’s support each other.
After all, with no mental health… you’re going to remain to feel cluttered. To feel a weight on your shoulders. To remain in the fog. Decision-making will be tough. Relationships will suffer. Health will suffer. And without happiness, why on earth are you doing it?
I’m truly here for you.
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