What Did I Do Wrong the First Time?

A popular place in Brussels, captured in the end-of-the-day lights.
Bar du matin is a popular place in my neighborhood in Brussels. I went there many times, but it took a calm photo-scouting walk in the evening to see the magic in it. Like with all work, you must invest time and energy to create a photograph, but the best results are often achieved when you are not on a timer and simply enjoy the process.

The first time I tried to transform my career was when I left the corporation to start my own drone business. It wasn’t an instant success.

Admittedly, I made many mistakes and could have prepared better for some of the challenges. Addressing the things under my control would not have prevented all the problems I faced, but the whole process would have been smoother and faster.

But I don’t regard my mistakes that caused the slow start of my business as my biggest failures.

Precisely forecasting a new industry’s dynamic or difficulties getting established in a market without a network of contacts is complex, and mistakes are likely for every new entrepreneur at some point. Equally, I had nothing to do with the Covid pandemic, nor could I effectively prevent its impact on me and even less the market.

Where I failed the most was in not playing my game and not staying true to my primary goals.

I left the corporation to do the things I like (i.e., work with drones) and to have more flexibility in my life. But even though I made my intentions very clear, I still have been managing everything in the old way – in terms of strict plans, targets, KPIs, and busyness as the ultimate virtue. I was enjoying my work as well as the time I could spend with my family, but I was uneasy as I wasn’t meeting my business targets quickly enough. That ultimately led me to disappointment and stress, and almost made me quit prematurely.

It is one thing to decide to change and make a good plan. But changing one’s behavior and approach to work and life requires focus, constant attention, and training. You need to force and train yourself to behave and measure success differently. Like, when a decision to “eat more healthily” requires thousands of right choices, different from what you are used to, every time you want to grab a bite.

If you’re not careful to recognize and fix the unwanted behavior, you will eventually fall back on your original habits. Even if you change a job, it might not end up being a significant change because you would still be doing the same old things.

The other day I had a lunch with a friend and former colleague. He was pretty surprised when I spoke about this with him. He recently left the corporation and is organizing his life around creative pursuits and is starting to recognize the same problems in himself. What do they say, “Old habits die hard?” You better believe it.

So, this time, with photography, I’m determined to be different. I’m doing it to enjoy the creative process and photographs that are meaningful to me. That is not to say that I don’t have any goals and only do what I feel like doing. I have a general idea of what success would look like, and I’ll do my best to get there, but I’m not in desperate need of quick success. Like in my flying and sailing, arriving at the destination is never as exciting as the flight or the sail itself. 

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