Photo credit: @meghangordonmg
High - Being in front of the Camera
By now you have probably scrolled through a lot of reflections; skimmed through resolutions. As we head towards cold months with no vacations in sight; it's easy to go in a big dive within oneself. If I'm being completely honest; I hadn't set goals for this blog or instagram for 2018. Yes, yes, I had vague things I wanted to accomplish like write more blog posts and grow my audience blah blah blah. When it comes to goals, I find that specificity is quite important. Then again, where my blog was this time last year was completely different then where it is now. There have been quite a few big changes; forcing me to be out of my comfort zone.One of which is being in front of the camera. To be honest, my biggest scare was alienating my audience. Maybe you guys did not want to see me at all; maybe shooting empty pristine spaces was enough. Well, it wasn't enough for me. Being a creator in this ever changing space, creates certain undesired constants. One being the thought of putting out a unique voice for you to enjoy. Seeing the same restaurants with the same framing distanced me to doing the same. Can't believe it was only in April that I had my first photoshoot! Super thankful for Intermix flower car backdrop because my awkwardness in front of the camera was overshadowed by flower power. Who knew, creating mood boards would be a welcomed separation from scrolling down the feed couple of months later. Even though according to metrics like engagement rate I seem to have distanced myself from a portion of my audience through changes in my content; the whole experience of being in the frame has been a high point for me. Creating images holistically through poses to back drops to clothing has been a blast. I guess I'm still hoping you are going to enjoy the new content as much as I do eventually.
Photo credit: @mylenefds
Goal #1 Get help and connect with more bloggers in the industry.
While I absolutely love this industry; I have somewhat felt like an outsider for a really long while. Granted, I haven't been doing this for a long time, yet along the way I haven't really connected with other bloggers and influencers that share a similar passion. This year I really like to connect with a lot more creatives. There are so many great, unique voices to be inspired from. Late last year I have started to do combined photoshoots with another blogger -Daphne Topel - check her gram here- which opened my eyes to the possible friendships that I have been missing out on all this time. Leading into this goal, I came to a realization that I can take this platform so much further with a little outside help and delegation. So within couple of weeks, I'll start announcing opportunities to join in the team.
High - Traveling
I can't talk about high points of this year without mentioning all the traveling! I have definitely done my share of visiting new places this year. Domestically we have found ourselves in LA, Chicago, DC, SF, Miami, Detroit, and Palm Springs. I went to glamping and camping for the first time so that was an experience. Glamping especially was quite enjoyable. Then there are the international destinations: Paris, South of France, Monaco, Istanbul, Tokyo, Kyoto, Bangkok, Phuket and Hong Kong. One can say Jason and I have caught the travel bug. Although heading out to all these destinations sound lovely, it wasn't without it's challenges. I have taken photos that I am extremely proud of, but it almost came with a personal expense. I had to learn - fast- how much to pack a trip with all the photographable locations and when to take it easy and relax. It was not only harming my relationship with Jason, but also effecting my health. By the end of the year when we were wrapping up Japan, my body was so tired from fighting and infection and walking minimum of 10 miles a day that I couldn't bring myself to wake up. Note to self: take it easy. Between flights and roadtrips; Jason and I had many heart to hearts when it comes to blogging and Instagram. A little back story - he is not a fan of social media and he does not take my photos at all unless we are traveling together. There was a point where Instagram -which is like my second job at this point- felt like his second job too, especially when we are traveling. We have come a long way since then, learning how to talk to one another, prioritizing places we both want to see, oh and purchasing a tripod companion for solo ventures out and about. Seriously, I don't know what I would do without that tripod.
Goal #2 Creating more video content
Although we went to amazing destinations and documented it beautifully with photos; social media is a beast demanding different types of content at all times. Do you guys even remember when instagram didn't have stories? Yeah, it feels like years ago. This year, I'd love to create more mini videos of our destinations. There are couple of ideas I've been dwelling on; maybe more behind the scenes footage, more walk throughs, etc. What would you like to see more, behind the scenes footage or more curated videos? Once I can get over the notion of everything needing to be perfect; I bet it'll be easier to put these forward. Fingers crossed.
High (and low) - Architectural Exams
Another big goal for 2018 was to get my architectural license. Newsflash - I didn't get it. BUT- I took majority of my exams! To those who are unfamiliar with the process, in order to get your license; one has to take 6 exams and clock in three years worth of experience. I still have two exams left so, licensed my March 2019 sounds like a solid plan no? Between working for the exams, and 9-6 full time job, there was very little time left to write and create a newsletter. The days when I wasn't studying, I found myself binge watching netflix. Regardless, I am proud to have passed more than half of my exams.
Goal #3 Getting that architectural license and creating a newsletter
I'm planning on kicking it in high gear and hunkering down for the remainder of my exams the first quarter. Come March, hopefully I'll have a license in my hand and a lot more free time to focus on writing and creating a newsletter. Lifespan of content created on Instagram is fairly short. 24 hours and a phtoto is forgotten within the abyss of newsfeed. Yet, newsletters present an opportunity to reach out to you guys with more depth. Behind the scenes stories, tips, and guides with links can be shared more seamlessly. Plus, after loosing majority of my photos due to the outage in Facebook world, I was reminded how I am standing on rented space when it comes to Instagram. With one keyboard stroke, my account can be removed or hacked. When considering that, having another means to reach out to you is more important than ever.
Low - Self Doubt and Comparison
Here comes the lows, yay. Turns out, my engagement rate - combination of comments and likes on a given photo on Instagram- took a nose dive. Cue in comparison, self deprecating thoughts, self doubt.... Only so many times one can repeat, keep your head down, do what you love, and create more. Believe me that has been my matra for the last month or two. After that lovely November morning where all my images have disappeared, engagement has never been the same. It may sound silly but after putting in countless hours to coordination, planning, and research when what I create doesn't seem to reach you guys, a lot of self doubt tends to be inevitable on my end. I had caught myself in damaging comparisons way too many times for my liking. Why is her content doing better than mine, or what am I missing, lacking? Some of the thoughts I kept trying to push out of my mind; somewhat unsuccessfully. These things are hard to admit; because yeah comparison kills the joy, cheer people up instead of comparing oneself to them, etc. I'm aware of the cliches. Unfortunately, falling into self doubt and state of comparison happens sometimes. I can only hope to come out of the better end after this.
Photo credit: @hanakurihara
Goal #4 Blocking negativity
Honestly, I don't really know how to fully accomplish this goal. Nor do I believe this is 100% possible. I think negative thoughts stemming from constant comparisons sneak in to ones mind. At the end of the day, I know everyone's path is unique to their own and I can't walk on anyone else's. I usually get in these endless cycles of seeing not so good parts of a situation. I guess first step is to focus on the opposite, right? As I said, for this goal there really is no set plan established. I just know that this is something I need to learn personally. If you do have any tips, please share.
Low - Realizing time is finite
Yeah, this one is heavy. Earlier this year, someone I know died. In an accident that no one saw coming. I wasn't extremely close to her, so I can't even begin to imagine what her family and friends gone through; or going through still. Maybe because she was close to my age, I have become aware of my mortality and the potential abrupt ending; so young with so much more of life to go through. I think I have been living in the comfort of having so much time for life to happen sometime in the future. I kept myself being okay with my current unhappiness for the sake of hapinness some other time in the distance. A question borrowed from Steve Jobbs stuck with me throughout; "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I'm about to do today?" He also adds, on if he answers that question with a no way too many times, he would know that something would need to change. I guess I have been asking this question and getting a no for a while, yet heaviness hadn't really registered until recently realizing time ahead is not infinite.
Honestly, I've been dwelling on adding this last part into this post. Maybe this is too personal, or maybe some will think it's superficial, why bring out death when I wasn't even super close to the person in the first place? Well mostly because this was the lowest point in my life last year that made me think hard on who and what I want to be; how I want to shape my life going forward.