We’ve all been in situations when something work-related just hasn’t gone our way. And if it’s something you feel you have worked super hard for then it’s even worse. Gutting even. Not everything we plan for or aim towards always comes off, so how can you cope with a professional disappointment without taking it out on your loved ones or hitting the gin?
I have all kinds of mini-disappointments in my working life. From not being booked by an awesome sounding couple, to pressing publish on a blog post to a sea of silence. In general however, life is good. I work hard and most times I have happy news. All kinds of opportunities come my way and I like to think I grab them all by the short & curlies and make the best of them. I love my clients and I get to work with great photographers at Photography Farm. Plus when all the hard work from the workshop is done, we get to kick back and make use of the rockstar facilities – it’s really pretty great. I even recently went to New York because I was invited to speak for the B&H Event Space and The Blogcademy. Amazing. In between the two events we hung out and generally had a blast. Recently however, I faced a big career disappointment.
A while back I was told that I was in line for a huge worldwide industry award. I had been nominated by some pretty high up people, whose radar I had no idea I was even on. The first thing I did was call Kat to scream my news down the phone as I knew she would understand what a big deal it was. It was super early in the morning but hey… that’s what friends are for. I felt like I had won an Oscar. However when I looked into the small print for the award, it turned out I couldn’t qualify. I was sooooo totally gutted. I felt like I had been invited to Buckingham Palace thinking I was getting an OBE only to be ushered in the servant’s entrance and told I had to polish the silver.
Now I know what you’re thinking, doesn’t she already have an award? Isn’t that a tad greedy to want another? Well it’s a little known fact that it’s just as hard work to stay at the top as it is to get to the top, and so I’m constantly looking at ways to push myself and improve. But once I found out I couldn’t even be considered anymore, I was left wishing that I never even knew I was nominated. To cope with these feelings, I turned to the person who had shared in the good news, thanks Mrs Williams for the wise words of support. My husband poured the wine and my little family all told me I was a winner in their eyes, but for a whole day I moped about feeling sorry for myself.
If you find yourself in a similar situation, here’s my advice. Firstly PLEASE don’t be tempted to spill your guts on your business social media. I am a firm believer in maintaining a happy and cheerful public face… A client or potential client won’t be impressed if you’re on Twitter or Facebook moaning about how work isn’t brilliant or you’re going through some personal trauma. Save all that stuff for your personal Facebook or actually go out in real life with friends and talk to them about it.
The way I see it, your professional social media is where you show off your edited highlights. Imagine if your business was a movie, you need to put out a trailer of all your best bits, not all the rubbish that ends up on the cutting room floor… you with me? Just remember that most other people are doing the same thing so don’t compare your director’s cut with their high octane preview. We all know that most of the time a movie doesn’t live up to it’s trailer anyway. So if you look at everybody else’s updates and feel bad, remember they are just sharing the best bits and the whole truth might be very different story indeed.
I also have private Facebook groups that I’m a member of with only a few trusted friends that we can share the not so good stuff with each other and lend support and advice. There are plenty of days where that support means the world. For those of us working at a computer, often by ourselves, it’s imperative to have people to talk to. Just like if you were in a traditional office environment you’d have trusted workmates to turn to if the boss was giving you a hard time.
In a career it can sometimes feel as if you are taking one step forward then three steps back, but remember that all of these steps are leading you on your own personal journey. Most of the time, the steps back teach us to appreciate the forward steps all the more.
So, the day after this huge disappointment I woke up and decided to just get on with things. First up was editing this couple shoot that I did in NYC with the fabulous Gala Darling and her adorable husband Mike. Gala’s positive attitude to life is truly infectious and inspiring, so it would be nigh on impossible to be down when looking at pictures of her. I started to think that it would be easy to wallow and really let the disappointment sully all the positives, but sometimes things are just not meant to be. You have to pick yourself up and try again, all the while remembering all the other amazing things you’ve done or achieved. They can be little things or they can be huge things – just don’t forget them when you’re feeling down.
Dale Carnegie wrote in How to Win Friends and Influence People “It isn’t what you have, or who you are, or where you are, or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It is what you think about.” So right now, I’m thinking about Farm Week that launches this week, as well as all the others I’m involved in. In fact I barely have time to think I’m so busy.
I’m sure I will face future disappointments, as will you, it’s all part of life. But with the stuff I can control, I will be doing them with a renewed energy and excitement for the New Year and all that it might bring.
If you’ve recently struggled with some work-related disappointments why not share them below – as well as how you dealt with them. Do you have any advice for people struggling or are you currently feeling low about something and you’re after a bit of encouragement yourself? Leave a comment and let’s figure it out together!
About the Author
Lisa Devlin is a wedding photographer from Brighton and a regular contributor to The Green Room. She hosts the 3-day long Photography Farm on a regular basis. The next Farm will be taking place from the 19th-21st March (with guest speaker & stylist yours truly!)
Lisa is also launching the 5 day non-residential Farm Week which will take place this January with an awesome timetable of talks and master-classes from some of the industry’s finest including Kirsty Mitchell and Brooke Davis. Registration is now open at http://photographyfarm.co.uk. For enquiries or bookings email Lisa on firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01273231047.