This is gonna be a quick little blog post today because I was recently listening to a podcast on the term “working hard” and it got to me. Some of the topics brought up in this podcast really reminded me of the way I used to think of the term “working hard” and how I’ve spent this last year truly figuring out what that term means to me. 

We’ve probably all heard the saying “Work hard & be kind.”  Well, I wanna break this down a bit with you guys.  And share how my perspective has changed on this term - I wanna be open about the good & bad effects “working hard” has taken on me in the past few years. My goal in sharing this is for you guys to hear my story & hopefully not make the mistakes I did (lol!). I’d love to hear your thoughts too! So feel free to comment on the post OR chat with me on Instagram message! :) Okay - let’s get into it.


I felt guilty NOT working.

Last year, I was just starting full time into photography and owning a business so I wanted to soak up all the knowledge I could - I listened to a lot of podcasts, read entrepreneurship books, attended workshops, followed a crazy amount of Instagram entrepreneurs. With all of this content pouring into my mind every day, I got the impression that if I wanted to my business succeed the MOST, I needed to work all.of.the.time. So I did. I would confidently say about 11 out of the 12 months last year, I worked every single day wether that was shooting, editing, emailing, planning, meeting with potential clients, the list goes on & on. I wanted to fill all of my time with the pursue of my career and when I wasn’t working - ya know, hanging with family, or doing typical “life” things - I would feel so guilty that I wasn’t answering emails or editing my clients’ images from the recent shoot. I thought that if I didn’t “work hard,” I wouldn’t see growth. It was a constant mindset that I couldn’t get out of. 

And I have to contradict myself right now and say YES, I have seen immense growth in my business because of the effort I made last year. BUT in that time, I truly believe I pushed myself into a sad place of consuming my life & ego in the term “work hard” only because I thought that was what I was supposed to do as an entrepreneur. 


I felt like I wouldn’t succeed if I rested. 

One of the topics the guys talked about in the podcast was the ‘benefit of recovery.’ They related working in your career to working out your muscles. If you constantly are in a sprint with no recovery time, you can injure your muscles. But if you recover & rest, your muscles grow stronger. I totally agree with them that it is the same way when “working hard.” Of course there are times for the sprint, when you take on amazing projects or opportunities that require a lot of mental, physical & emotion energy.  BUT, you need to rest & separate from that “hustle” or “sprint” to recover your mindset. 

I remember one specific time in my career last year - I took on a triple header wedding weekend, PLUS daily family shoots for the holidays. And with that, I just remember feeling like I had no time to breathe. I was stressed and anxious that I wouldn’t do my best or get anything done in a day’s time. After that week was over, I went into super sad mindset for about two weeks. And finally, I asked myself “okay, why do I feel this way?! I’m working hard & succeeding at what I do.. Why am I not happy?” And then it clicked. I was associating my success with the act of “working hard.” And the wasn’t going to cut it anymore. That’s when I separated myself from the “hustle” and really focused on keeping my body & my mindset healthy. Before booking work or taking on more, I now set aside full days and hours in my work-day where I mentally separate myself from my “work life” and take care of my body. This is an on-going process for me & I exercise it every day.


I felt like “working hard” kept me in control of my business. 

I can confidently say that I’ve seen even more growth in my business by the act of just letting go and saying no. As I was in the midst of last year’s “hustle,” I developed a habit of relating “working hard” to taking control of my business’s growth. Every time I would fill up my calendar with sessions & meetings, I would feel in control. I would associate that work with growth - mostly because I would be checking things off my list of things to get done. I would see my bank account growing. I was able to plan out my months with work I knew would be coming in. Control over my finances, control over my personal life, & more control of my business. At this time, I definitely made a lot of connections that have pushed my business further. BUT when I really looked into my work, I saw no growth in my craft, I saw laziness in communication with clients & ultimately, I saw a limitation into the direction I could take myself & my business from where it was. 

This is when I took the shift and started say NO to work, which to be honest, FREAKED ME OUT! I had to fully trust in my abilities to produce a good service and what I had already built over the past years. Let’s jump about 5 months out of starting this shift - I don’t “work” hardly as much as I did last year. I have more weekends off, I’ve scheduled time to travel & enjoy family time. I have SO much energy to focus on my clients & my brand. And my mindset has transformed from acknowledging fear to building trust in myself. 

This is how I see “working hard.” - I went from consuming my life in “hard work” & constant work to managing my time in a way that lets me perform at my best WHENEVER I work. NOW, I feel confident - NOT fearful. NOW, I recognize how to handle stressful & anxious work situations - INSTEAD of just shutting down & pushing through those seasons in my life. I’ve seen a complete 180 in the way I work after I finally dissected the term “working hard” and understood how it applies to me and my business.

SO! What do you guys think?! Have any of my photographer friends gone through a time similar to this?! How do you guys see the term “working hard?” Please feel free to comment on this post OR message me through Instagram! Would seriously love to hear from you! If you want to listen to the same podcast, click this LINK!

- Sydney Marie