No one wants to be without a job. Unfortunately, in these times, a job is no longer the given right it once seemed to be. If you are out of work, finding a job is a job unto itself as some of my friends and some of you will attest. But if you are one of those 14.5 million out of work, why not take advantage of the gift you've been given. Something you have that those of us with jobs may not- time.
Godin had another great post today that I found incredibly inspiring. The idea of this post was that if you are a recent college grad having trouble finding work, stop and think about all the things you could be learning about and building for yourself while you are out of work- start and run an online community, self-publish a book, write a newsletter or blog about an industry you care about, etc. You get the idea. You can find his post in it's entirety here.
This got me thinking. If I was out of work, what would I want to work on to help create some positive momentum towards living a photographic life. Plenty of things, but off the top of my head here are a few that any of us could do if we had more time:
Devote more time to blogging or journaling
Develop your portfolio
Create a new website
Figure out how to better use social networking for self-promotion
Join and participate in more online photographic communities
Put together a book of your work through Blurb, My Publisher, etc.
Teach photography to kids
Go back to shooting film to mix things up
Shoot, shoot, shoot
I can think of plenty more but you get the point. As Seth said, treat your list like a job. Get up every morning and put a lot of effort into it. If you're out of work and would like to pursue photography as a career, now might be the perfect time to find out what lies down that path. If you do have a job but you're not real happy with it, maybe a leave of absence makes sense. How much could you accomplish if you had 6-8 weeks to work on your list. I don't know, but this struck me in such a way that I'm real tempted to find out...
"It is quite easy to get approval if we ask enough people, or if we ask those who are likely to tell us what we want to hear. The likelihood is that they will say nice things rather than be too critical. Also, we tend to edit out the bad so that we hear only what we want to hear.
So if you have produced a pleasantly acceptable piece of work, you will have proved to yourself that it's good simply because others have said so. It is probably ok. But then it's probably not great either. If, instead of seeking approval, you ask, 'What's wrong with it? How can I make it better?', you are more likely to get a truthful, critical answer.
You may even get an improvement on your idea.And you are still in a position to reject the criticism if you think it is wrong."
As I've mentioned here before, I think Seth Godin's excellent insights into marketing and business can often be applied to those wishing for a career in photography as well. For many of those wanting to make the leap, the big question (aside from wondering if you are good enough) is can I afford to make the leap.
Godin phrases it this way:
"If you've built an expensive lifestyle around a well-paying job, what would happen to your life if you downsized and sought out more joy or generosity?"
In many respects, we are held back because of financial responibilities and lifestyles we've grown comfortable in. How do we hack our way through the jungle of beginning a new career to get to financial stability again? Is some instability worth it now to see what's on the other side of that? Given the current economic times, it's even a more daunting question than it was before.
The cost we don't often consider isn't financial. It's the cost to ourselves and our spirit to maintain what we have that we think is important.
I overheard a conversation about new careers yesterday when someone posed the question, "If you were on your deathbed, would you regret not pursuing that during your life? If the answer is yes, you need to seriously reconsider what you're doing." That really cut to the heart of the matter and made me think about this. So, I pose this idea- think about what you're giving up to maintain what you have. Is your "stuff" and your comfort really worth that regret at the end of the road?
Nothing new here, but I believe it's a question you need to continually ask yourself. If the answer is yes, that's fine. Just keep asking the question every so often. You may find one day that the answer changes.