This time last year, I had just graduated college, just gotten engaged, and was still touring Europe with Justin, my dad, and my sisters as I got excited for the year ahead. It would be my first year out of school (ever!), my first time being a BRIDE, and my first year as a full-time wedding photographer. The future looked bright. I had no idea what the details looked like, I just saw the big picture… planning a wedding while shooting weddings. It was going to be a year full of being in love and capturing love, and I couldn’t have been more thrilled about it.

One year later, I find myself once again looking at the “big picture,” all fuzzy and without details but looking so promising nonetheless. I’m going to get married this year… move out of my dad’s house for the first time in my life… go on a tropical honeymoon… decorate my first home… and start waking up next to somebody everyday!! And sharing a bank account with them! Haha! It’s going to be a year of so many life changes and I’m so ready. In the midst of all the transitions, there are several key goals I want to keep in mind that I wish I had been better at this past year. And here they are…!

1) Making time for people… and myself. This year I was so much about the hustle and bustle of being a wedding photographer and “growing my business” that I packed my schedule TIGHT. I was shooting two weddings and two portrait sessions in the span of 48 hours several weekends this year and it was just plain insanity. I thought I was prepared… I thought I “knew better” … I thought I would be smarter than the people who had warned me that you can easily lose all your life outside of your work when you’re an entrepreneur. I missed 35 weekends of my year, and when your significant other is only off on the weekends, that makes it really difficult to spend time together! Justin and I were both extremely busy, but I think I could have done a better job at blocking off some weekends altogether to spend time with him. I’m not sure if it even would have been possible with how much time and work I have to put in to pull a profit for this business, but all I know is that this past year wasn’t healthy… and that leads me to my next resolution!

2) Putting my physical and mental health first. Whatever it takes. I really don’t even need to elaborate on this, but I absolutely must be more intentional about setting boundaries to protect my well-being and mental stability. Being a one-woman team running a business all on my own… it’s tough. So incorporating exercise and quiet time into my daily routine is a priority for 2016. (I started working out mid-October as a form of stress relief and, coupled with crazy mid-wedding-season anxiety, lost 12 pounds! I’ll take it! Haha.)

3) Saying “no” to more work and “yes” to more life. This may sound like an oxymoron… but I don’t think it is :) This year I was working 70-80 hour weeks, waking up and reaching for my laptop and staring at the bright LED screen for 12, 14, 16 hours straight and then running around on wedding days and collapsing into bed, barely able to move the next morning but immediately culling, editing, posting sneak peeks, preparing a blog post, catching up on backlogged editing, diving into next week’s emails, ohhh I’m getting stressed out just typing this!! 2016 is going to be a year of working SMARTER not HARDER! And this means systems!! For the first time I’ve invested in a studio/client management program and I’m fully prepared for it to change my life. MY BODY IS READY, SHOOTFLOW. I also have an educational bridal guide to send to all my new couples, a day planner to organize my weekly tasks, and a Powersheets workbook to keep me on track. Organization is gonna have to be the key to every single work day next year in order for me to work less and have more life!

4) Being wiser about our cashflow. I’ve been extremely blessed to be able to live at home while growing my business… I know that. But next year… I become a real adult guys. ;) Justin and I have had plenty of conversations lately about what we want our life to be like. Do we want to have to be on a strict budget, living paycheck to paycheck every month? Or do we want to have a little more breathing room, even if it means some career changes? How much do we want to be able to save and invest per month after our expenses? Do we want to be able to take several vacations a year? How much do we want to be able to spend on clothes, movies, gym memberships, and the like? How soon do we want to be able to put 25% down on a house? FUN, fun stuff!! Really though, it kind of is! With neither of us never really having a steady income for the first 6 years of our relationship, we’re pretty excited to finally have some spending money! At least that’s the goal!! Haha ;) So, 2016 is going to be a year of lots of learning, planning, and inevitable mistakes when it comes to the finances front… but I’m determined to make it overall a successful year when it comes to our bank accounts. Wish us luck.

5) Finding joy in the ordinary. I think I was so uptight, anxious, stressed out, etc. for most of 2015 that I lost out on a lot of wonderful moments. I couldn’t separate my mind from my work for even a millisecond and though I got better three quarters of the way through the year, most of the Thursday or Friday nights that I was on a date with Justin, I was worrying myself sick about the upcoming work I had that weekend. 2016 will be a year of finding joy in the moments that aren’t necessarily noteworthy but still constitute my life. I only get one! So whether it’s that ice cold caramel macchiato I’m gripping in my hands on a chilly spring morning or 15 minutes spent playing a video game with Justin… those moments need to be their own moments and not a reflection of my worries for the past or the future. I shouldn’t let tomorrow’s problems become today’s misfortunes. That’s what I’m hoping to remember every single day throughout 2016.

In just a few days, the clock will chime and it will officially be the year we start our life. It sounds so dramatic. I know. But it’s true! I’m so excited for this grand adventure with my best friend and even though we sometimes bicker like an old married couple, I know every day is going to be a gift. 2016… I’m so glad you’re finally here. We’ve been waiting a long time for ya. And I know you’re going to be even more incredible than we ever dreamed.

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