Over the past month, I’ve thought a lot about time management, priorities and focus — hence my slight silence on the blog besides sharing photos. This thinking exercise isn’t anything new; it’s been a regular occurrence ever since I embarked on the rewarding but demanding journey of transitioning from the law into travel photography and now writing.
More recently, however, I was reminded of the importance in learning and shifting priorities to go farther in this new field and make the best use of my talents.
These thoughts were triggered by TBEX, when I realized during and post-conference that I was sitting on potential and what I needed the most was focus. Focus on learning from the best – whether it means taking classes, workshops or attending the best of conferences – and focus on consistently seeking out opportunities and knocking on doors.
With all of these thoughts on my mind on the plane home from Colorado, an amazing opportunity came my way.
I opened my email to find a message from a fellow blogger currently on a trip around the world. In the email was a link to an ad for a travel writing gig, one for which she thought I was a perfect fit. It did sound amazing and I knew I was qualified. A year ago I might have let fear or doubt take over, but after TBEX I realized that my true love is for travel writing and photography and not blogging full-time per se. I left feeling inspired and ready to push harder.
I spent the entire weekend drafting a cover letter and crafting a travel resume (the last one I wrote was for my legal experience and most of my travel-related gigs so far have mostly come from my networks). I edited, proofread and perfected and hit send. What’s the worst that could happen, I thought?
Within a few days, I received a response: I was selected for an interview. I was so excited, I must have read the email at least five times. Then I thought, well why not me? Ha.
Fast forward, a week after my one-hour phone interview, I was selected for the next step. I had just under 14 days to submit a near 50-page proposal.
I can’t quite describe the feelings of excitement, anxiety and adrenaline that came over me all at once. I was so excited and grateful to prepare this piece that I lived and breathed it for two weeks, all while I juggled my full time legal gig (I still consult as an attorney when I’m back in the US half the year). Still, it didn’t prevent me from completing the work and I even had one day to spare for editing and perfecting. I was proud of what I put together and amazed at what I had accomplished in less than two weeks.
When I eventually sent the package in, it was late Sunday evening and two weeks of my life had gone by working on this project, with a little family time in between.
What did I cut out? Social media chatter and blogging three to four times a week.
It hit me, right then and since then, how much I could achieve if I had a self-imposed deadline and kept pressing on every single week. If I applied the passion I know I have and the resources available to not only better my skills in travel writing and photography, but to craft ideas week in and week out, to plan those big “dream” project(s) and to keep making steps forward. And not to confuse travel blogging with my dreams, because for me, blogging is merely an outlet to showcase my work and to inspire others to travel. Somehow, I temporarily lost sight of this and had turned it into another job.
When you’re a freelancer transitioning into this field, there are all sorts of distractions — from reading fellow bloggers’ sites, feeling the need to comment and reciprocate weekly, posting on your social media pages and still working in your previous field to supplement income. In the end, it becomes hard to focus on your big goals and easy to lose sight of just how much time has passed. But it’s imperative to keep track to succeed. To cut out the less important matters.
And while it may seem selfish to want to fully prioritize your work and push your progress -it really is not. If you’re like me and made huge sacrifices to pursue your passion – it’s a must to put 150% into your new field and prioritize. For myself, it means cutting down on online blog reading, spending less time on Facebook and instead reading the kind of travel writing I need to learn from, attending the kind of conference that will help me grow and improving my travel photography by being out there shooting.
Over the next months, while I will occasionally enjoy reading blogs and websites, I feel the need to give my all to my new field, the way that I did with the opportunity of a lifetime that came along three weeks ago. I’m not sure what will come of the latter (cross fingers for me folks and throw in a prayer) but regardless, I’m grateful for the new focus it gave me and for reminding me of the reason why I embarked on this journey in the first place.
Taking this renewed energy, I pitched a photo essay to one of my dream outlets a couple of weeks ago and got a yes. My piece will be out the third week of August and I can’t wait to share it with you all. I’ll still keep posting photos of course and will blog as I feel inspired. But in the meantime, I’ll be behind the scenes learning, networking and taking a couple of massive leaps of faith.