Here it comes… the thoughts of seriously wondering where in the WORLD the time went. Weren’t we just ringing in the new decade in 2010?! How are we almost now halfway through that decade?!?! Time is a funny thing. It’s something that only our universe is bound by. If we feel like a couple years can go by quickly, imagine how it must feel to God, who sees each of our lifetimes as “but a breath” in the span of infinity! When you really start to think about it, your mind can get pretty tripped up on this whole “time” thing and theory of relativity and black holes and all that complicated physics stuff. But the fact of the matter is… we all know we live a short life here on Earth. That’s one of the main reasons that we seek PURPOSE for our lives! If we had all the time in the world, why spend it with people you could see tomorrow? Why try to work hard today when you could do so in 100 years?
If Not Now When

Sadly, a lot of people still take their precious time here for granted. They still live like they have forever to make things right, chase their dreams, and strengthen their relationship with God when that simply isn’t the case. Life can change in literally a heartbeat. I experienced this most recently when the shootings at the Navy Yard occurred in September. My dad has worked at the Navy Yard in building 197 for YEARS. That shooter was in HIS building! He heard the gunshots, exchanged glances with his coworkers, and literally fled for his life. Getting that phone call from him saying that there was a shooter in his building was one the scariest moments of my life. I’m so, so thankful that God protected him that morning- and so heartbroken for the friends he lost and their families that will never see them again. It was just yet another reminder just how fragile life really is in this world and how we can’t take any given second for granted.
Life Is An Adventure

Do you feel like something was missing in 2013? Like you were meant to live a life more fulfilling and more purposeful, but don’t know where to begin? Do you want to dream bigger and do better, accomplish more in a shorter amount of time, and look back at the end of this year and know you truly did all you could to reach your goals? It’s all about making little changes, one day at a time, that will transform your habits and the way your live your life. Last year I blogged about 2013 being the year of a million dreams. I wanted to completely rebrand my business and online presence into something more professional and something more ME. I set a goal for the number of sessions I wanted to shoot, weddings I wanted to book, and Facebook fans I wanted to reach. While my rebranding mission turned out better than I ever hoped it could be (I have a beautiful new website and blog that feel like home!), I fell short on my booking goal because I just simply didn’t take the steps required to reach it. I got lazy. I got discouraged. I let the negative voices inside my head saying “you’ll never be able to do that” and “there’s no point in even trying” get a foothold in my mind and let them have influence on my every day actions. About 3/4 of the way through the year, I realized what had happened over the past 9 months and decided to make a change. I started emailing prospective brides and grooms. I changed the way I respond to inquiries. I asked more questions in my online photography groups and stopped paying so much attention to what other photographers were doing and started paying more attention to what I was doing. I invested in the camera I saved money up for years for. I bought two lenses and a speedlite. I spent more time practicing my editing and trying to pinpoint exactly which settings were affecting what and why one preset that looks great on several images may not work on another.

The only problem was that I practically wasted NINE months of this year… sitting around moping and contemplating giving up everything. Imagine if I had!! I wouldn’t be writing this blog post right now. This blog wouldn’t exist online anymore. I wouldn’t have my dream camera and lens combo. I wouldn’t be taking pictures of clients I love and responding to wedding inquiries. It was hard to quiet those negative thoughts… but I’m so glad I did. This year, I don’t want to waste 9 more months sitting around waiting for things to happen on their own. I want to take INITIATIVE. I want to set real, concrete goals and post them on the wall by my desk where I’m going to be forced to look at them every day. One of the ways I started was by making a list. I’ve come up with 14 ways that I’m going to try to make 2014 my best year yet, and I wanted to share them with my blog readers in the hopes that this will help more than one person become the absolute best version of themselves that they could be this year!

Everyone should start this year with knowing what their vision is for their life. I wrote my vision down on paper when I was 16 years old at a leadership conference, and though its wording changes just slightly every year, its ultimate meaning remains the same. What is most important to you? Do you want to live for yourself? For God? For someone else? Who do you want to serve? What do you want people to say about your life when it’s over?

All of these things should be considered when creating your vision, followed by VERBALIZING your goals. Don’t just write them down. Open up audio notes on your phone and say them OUT LOUD. As silly as it seems, there’s something about both writing out an intention and verbally stating it that makes it STICK.

And even though you’re using that phone to make a note of it, you should drop your smart phone as soon as you’re done! Because while the iPhone can be an amazing tool that helps us get things done, it can also suck the joy out of our lives and we not even notice. I can’t tell you how many times Justin has had to ask me to put my phone away this year. It’s pathetic. I get so wrapped up in answering every text, staying up to date on Facebook and Twitter, liking Instagram posts, beating the next level in Candy Crush, etc. that I often miss out on what’s happening around me!! When you look down at your phone in the presence of someone else, you’re doing both yourself and your friend a disservice. Quite frankly, it’s rude. We all know it is. Leave your phone in your pocket or your purse and really be PRESENT this year.

Make a plan for how you’re going to accomplish all your 2014 dreams.

CHALLENGE yourself when making that plan. You want to travel? Make it somewhere crazy… go to Iceland! Or better yet, take one trip in country and one trip abroad!! You want to work with 10 clients this year? Double that number. When you aim higher, falling short becomes less of a problem because you may just end up where your original goal was. And how awesome would it be to reach that higher goal?!

You may be the cautious type, but at least once this year, take a risk. Make that cold call for a possible client who you think would never want to work with you. Be confident! Go sky diving. Sign up for a half marathon.

Dream really, REALLY big. You know that plan you made? Throw it out the window one day and be spontaneous! Surprise your spouse with a weekend trip away… that you just booked two days ago.

Don’t just love people a little, love people a lot. Love to the point of it HURTING. Put your own happiness in the backseat and put someone else’s before yours.

Give totally and completely selflessly. Yes, you worked an entire week’s worth of labor for that amount of money… but I’m telling you to give it away. Find a cause you’re passionate about and spend those dollars making the world a better place rather than buying yet another pair of shoes you don’t really need.

Close your eyes and TALK TO GOD. Too many of us underestimate the power of prayer. God listens–and responds and ACTS on our prayers when we have the faith to trust in Him.

Get creative at least once a week. Paint your frustrations… with your hands. Doodle in a journal every night before you go to bed. Whatever it is, utilize your creative energy!

MANAGE. YOUR. TIME. Figure out where each minute of your day is being spent over a week’s worth of time and analyze where your precious moments are being wasted (Facebook, T.V, video games) and what that time could better be used for.

And last but not least… stay motivated to working towards your dreams and your goals. Go check up on that person you wish you could be as successful as. I bet they haven’t stopped. While you sat on Netflix for five hours this week, that person was working hard. The rest of the world was getting ahead and being a part of everything 2014 has to offer. Please don’t miss out.

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