woman making a photography presentation to a group of women

Taking that first step and choosing consistency to reach your goals

December 6, 2022


Do you have a bucket list?

I do. I actually used to have it on my website as part of my “about me” section:

A few of my bucket list items are to touch every continent, write a book, open a bakery, ✓skydive, have a photo published in National Geographic or Sports Illustrated (said the wedding and portrait photographer…), ✓bungee jump, become conversationally fluent in French and Spanish, ✓see Beyoncé in concert, record a Christmas album (can you do that without having any other album and just an average voice?), ✓play ping pong with Ray Allen, and wear Gryffindor scarves around HarryPotterLand (aka the Wizarding World of Harry Potter) with my sibs.

I just thought it would be a cute way to show the things I’m interested in. I wrote it nearly ten years ago (and it’s morphed since then), and when I came across it earlier in the year, I realized that I still had yet to accomplish any of the unchecked items.

And how could I have?

I hadn’t taken a single, solitary step towards making it happen (although my mom did make me a Gryffindor scarf for my 30th birthday).

I was determined to change that.

Here I am, “taking a step,” because I needed something to break up this post. 😉 Photo by Madison Yen Photography.

I randomly connected with a French teacher on Instagram last summer, so I finally signed up for her Zoom classes, and I’ve been taking French twice a week since March.

Am I conversationally fluent yet? Heck no. But am I better? Heck yes.

When I started classes, if I had the expectation that I would immediately know how to conjugate every verb and speak with a Parisian accent, I would have certainly been discouraged and let myself down.

Instead, I approach it one day at a time learning small bits and pieces, giving myself the grace and permission to make mistakes. It is a growth mindset that even allows me to do this; if I had a fixed mindset I would not have gone past the first few weeks.

young woman in a striped shirt holding a coffee cup at an outdoor cafe
From a French café-themed high school senior shoot at Pike Place Market, 2017.

At dinner with friends a couple months ago, I mentioned that recording a Christmas album is on my bucket list. And as soon as the words were out of my mouth, I realized the first step in making a Christmas album isn’t “renting a studio and making a Christmas album” – it is taking voice lessons.

I sing in my car, in the shower, in the kitchen…but I’ve felt a strong desire to have more power in my voice, and I’ve wanted to take voice lessons for yearsss. One of my friends connected me with his voice coach a few weeks ago, and I immediately signed up for weekly lessons with her. I’ve had three so far, and we make funny sounds all class. I’m not singing yet. But I know that I’m training and strengthening my vocal chords so that I can improve.

Do I sound amazing yet? Heck no. But am I getting better? Heck yes.

If I had a fixed mindset about this, I would’ve ended my third lesson thinking “oh my gosh, I am never going to be a platinum Christmas album artist, I should just quit now.” But heck no, it is the process and the journey that makes it fun and worthwhile.

Ben Folds sitting at his piano looking out at the crowd during a concert
Maybe I’ll be as cool as Ben Folds one day. 🙂 Here he is performing in June 2022 at Edmonds Center for the Arts.

So, I share this with you because perhaps there is something that you are waiting for the “right” moment to start, and I’m here to tell you that there is no right moment – you just have to choose to do it.

As we approach 2023, I have my mind set on a lot of things (business and personal) that I would like to accomplish. While it is very easy to make them feel like big, hairy, audacious goals (BHAGs), feel overwhelmed, and not even start – I’m confident that if I break them down into small actions, I’ll get there.

And, in fact, all that’s required of us is a commitment to consistency. To take the first step…and then the next…and then another. We don’t go from 0 to 100 real quick. #drakevoice

We go from 0 to .75, and from .75 to 2.2, or something like that.

I get better at French by studying a few verbs at a time. I improve my voice by practicing lip rolls for ten minutes a day. (They’re pretty hilarious.)

I improve as a photographer and business owner by the art of doing, and asking myself “how can I do this [photoshoot, task, etc.] differently or better than last time?”

woman making a photography presentation to a group of women
Me, teaching a studio lighting workshop to other awesome local photographers, July 2022. Photo by Megan Hooks Photography.

Whether your goal is to start your own business (ooh, let’s talk about it!), learn your camera (which I would love to help you with), start a new fitness program, remodel your house, or read one book per month…whatever your ambition, you don’t need to do all of it all at once, or be perfect right away (or ever, just sayin’). Enjoy the journey of being bad at something and improving as you go along!

So, what’s something you want to take the first step towards? I’d love to hear about it and encourage you to get started!