Life on the road, two weeks into the journey already, and it feels like I’ve been away from home for at least a month. Maybe it’s all the new things we come into contact with when we travel, the people we meet, the information we get almost unconsciously, but these days are so rich and full they really feel bigger and longer.
And yet, I’m effectively working less hours per day than I did when I was at home. Not being in my own space means I have to dedicate time to the people I stay with, the errands I help run, the little everyday things we get involved with when our time is not totally our own. It’s wonderful because it forces me to make the best use of the time I do have by myself, and it also forces me to spend time doing things I wouldn’t normally do.
Like when I happened to visit the knitting club in the local church (can you believe this is where they do it!), where I got a fascinating glimpse into these ladies’ lives as well as their scribbled pattern sheets. I ended up knitting pot holders that I really needed for the place I’m staying at (yes I am like that! 😁) and spending the rest of the weekend roaming gorgeous garden centres and charity shops in search of books and Marvel comics (I even found a big big Dalek 😎).
So I’m finding out that time stretches, folds, expands, and can be manipulated. One hour of focused, uninterrupted work can be worth four hours of “normal” time, and possibly more. But this is something we all know, right? Focused time versus distracted, half-hearted time, we all know about this… right?
So why is it so hard to do?
I found that the key is that word I used up there… FORCE. I’m forced to work this way. I have put myself in a situation that forces me to work this way. Of course, when I’m at home I’m not forced to do it this way… therefore I don’t do it! But what if we found ways to force ourselves into this?
And I don't mean to say you should take hours off every day to go knitting potholders, either! But what if we had a plan that forced us to do some of the work in very limited time, so we can free more time to do other things? More important things? Work that is NOT URGENT BUT IMPORTANT to us?
OTB has a section on workflows and systems, where we learn to plan and prioritize and understand what is urgent and what is important. This usually makes all the difference not only in the running of a business and its success, but also in our quality of life. This taking work on the road is an extreme version of it, and has forced me to really practice what I preach. It’s taken me a week to really get into a rhythm, but it’s happening!
It does come with challenges. I didn’t get to do everything I wanted to do by Friday, and forced myself to leave it until Monday (there’s that word again). Easy to catch up over the weekend, I know, but I didn’t. And guess what, it took no time at all to get it finished on Monday morning. And today… I mean, can you believe it… I’m even blogging!!! :D
So here’s my challenge to you. What are the things you want to find time for and never do. What are the projects at the bottom of your drawer, the books on the shelf you’ve no time to read, the class you’d love to take but never allowed yourself to join? Do you want to learn to sing, draw, ice skate? Knit potholders?
Choose one thing and MAKE time for it. You will not miss it if you use it that way. The rest of your time will expand, you will still get your work done. You will find ways, unexpectedly, when you set out for it.
What will it be? Tell us!
I’ve been here over a week. I count about a week because I took four days off as a break and a way to adjust and organise my work on the road. I moved to a beautiful village in the Cotswolds, stone cottages with smokey chimneys, a bit of rain, a lot of sunshine, and even a little snow last night.
I set up office in the lounge, sprawled on the sofa, papers everywhere, my laptop on a cushion, a fire going and an endless stream of cups of tea right next to me.
I took over 3TB of stuff with me, afraid I would forget something, afraid to drop the ball with clients waiting for their books, afraid to forget bills and payments and everyday stuff that we don’t think about when we’re away from home.
I’m not on holiday. That is what I realized I had to remember right from the start. It’s so easy to think I’m on holiday, tucked away in this little cottage, peaceful, quiet. The perfect retreat. But I’m working, this week I’m working full time, just like at home. I realize I’ve never worked quite so well in my life… having less stuff, no messy desk (in fact, no desk at all!!), no house to clean, no other decisions to make. I’m a guest and to do my bit I cook in the evenings, and enjoy that. We watch movies, talk, laugh, relax.
And during the day the place is mine, everyone off to work and I have fast wifi, an endless supply of tea and cream, my laptop and my phone. I’m so grateful for the technology that allows me to do this. I’m doing my sessions, recording videos, even launching my new Mastermind group today. Creating new things, writing new material, getting fresh ideas because I can relax and my mind is so free.
Organizing the US part of this trip is a challenge… dates have shifted, and I’ll probably be in even more places than originally planned. I knew from the beginning that the word of the day would be FLEXIBILITY. If I’m flexible, anything is possible. If I can adapt, think on my feet, find solutions, I’ll be alright. Things slot into place. People turn up at the right moment. Systems start working, and the work just flows.
Every day has its own challenges, some logistic, some technical, some social. Where am I going next weekend? How do I get there? Is there wifi? Who is there… daughter, mum, friends? How social do I have to be, how many hours do I get to do some work and how long will it take to travel on Friday?
I’m beginning to see ways around all these issues, and I want to bring it all back to my work at home. Maybe even find some tips and tricks I can share with everyone. For now, the first would be: Take the minimum you need to do the work and hide away everything else. Go somewhere else to do some of the work, even if it’s the coffee shop down the road. Write and look around and enjoy a drink and see if things feel different, if it feels like working on holiday.
I usually have so many difficulties focusing, and it’s so much easier here. I can work fewer hours and get more done. I can take time off and walk to the Abbey and see a 600-yr old Bible in four huge volumes, written on vellum and illuminated by monks and sitting under beautiful stained glass windows. And inside the Abbey an open coffee shop, people drinking tea and having soup, right there at the back of the pews, little tables and children and mums having a cuppa and a chat. Community, like it used to be. I walk through the church almost more in awe of this than the fourteen hundred-year-old arches above me.
Nourishing my soul. We all need that. We have to make space for that. We have to find a way to make time for that.
I always hear “I don’t have time. I’d love to do XYZ, but I don’t have time.”
Well, nobody has time. We have to MAKE time. And we do, we make time for what we really want to do, and we do it. I even teach this in OTB :)
What do you want to make time for this year? How are you going to nourish your soul? Which way do you want to go?
I’ll be glad if I can help you on the way :)
28 January 2018
I’m sitting on a plane and writing on a napkin, as my laptop is stuck in the lockers, and wondering how on earth I got here this morning. When this started, and how, I’m not exactly sure, but one day I must have thought that planning a few trips and linking them together to avoid a lot of back and forth from Innsbruck was a good idea. Of course, I did see that it would mean 3+ months away from home, but at the time something in my brain must have switched off for a moment, and it didn’t quite register.
So off I went on planning flights and transfers and workshops and meetings and projects, without a care in the world about what that actually meant.
It was only coming back from Rome, just two short weeks ago, that I started to feel a twinge of red alert, as I realized that A) I was nowhere near ready to go, and B) 3 months is a bloody long time!
Fast forward 2 weeks of hectic work to make sure all the commitments were sorted and all clients taken care of, and tackling the daunting task of taking all my work on the road for such a long time. Not easy!! Is it even possible?
What if anything happens, if a client here needs anything, if a book gets lost in delivery, if I drop the ball here somewhere? And which files do I need to take with me for the projects I’m working on? Enter a super fast 4TB hard drive where I managed to store almost everything I could think of and some that I didn’t, kitchen sink included (oh I will miss my huge kitchen sink…)
Have laptop will travel… right?
Have laptop, and mouse, have backups, and wacom,
have software installed, and licences active,
have dropbox onboard and libraries sorted,
have notes and keynotes and catalogs exported,
and quotes and accounts…
and did I leave something out???!!
7 hours sleep in 2 nights, a few bars of 90% chocolate, and I’m on the plane. With 45 kgs of luggage and a keyboard stand (don’t ask).
I talk so much about having a vision of the life you want, and then reverse engineer it to make it happen. I have no certainties as I land in Bristol today, but I’m making this happen because this is what I want more of.
To be close to both my daughters and the important people in my life, and travelling for my work and my personal projects. Doing what makes me feel ALIVE.
Writing a blog on a napkin at 10,000 ft and wondering if my plants will survive. Feeling like an explorer of my own life. I know I will not come back the same.
I have Daley the Dalek with me and I’ll journal our adventures both in pictures and in writing. So follow us as we explore the world and figure out how to take a business on the road. There will be a lot of flexibility needed, and a fair amount of problem solving, I’m sure.
All the things we take for granted (a good pillow? a good wifi connection? food I can actually eat?) may be tricky, and require extra time, and I know I will learn to let go a lot.
Let go, let flow, let it unfold before me. Daley and I are ready. Are you on board with us?
Follow our story on IG @fabrizia.costa and #daleythedalek
I come across this every day… photographers want to work more, work better, find clients, grow their business, take amazing photos. We all want the same thing: to make our business successful, see money come in, solve our financial problems and find some peace of mind.
Of course, if we don’t have to worry about the money we can be creative and have more fun. We have less stress, less worries, and a lot more time to dedicate to being artists or geeky gear nerds, as the case may be.
There’s only one problem with this… we keep trying to find that lucky break, the magic formula, and the cool system that will set us on the right course and break the loop once and for all, but it just doesn’t happen by itself.
Well… let me tell you a story. For over three years now I’ve been putting together coaching sessions and workshops to help photographers get out of their funk and into the results they want. It’s been challenging for me, because just as I help others deal with their issues, I’ve had to deal with mine…. and you can be sure that I’m way more messy, undisciplined and erratic than most of you put together (that’s why I know that if something works for me, it can work for anybody ;) … )
I ask myself questions and then come up with answers, that’s how most of my own business was grown and OTB was born.
But at a certain point a tough question came up… HOW BIG DO YOU WANT TO PLAY.
It hooked me. It shook me. It almost derailed me.
It wouldn’t go away. It challenged everything I was doing.
Is this big enough.
Where are your limits.
How far are you prepared to go.
And WHY ARE YOU SETTLING FOR SO LITTLE.
Why are you playing small.
What are you scared of… it went on and on.
It made me evaluate my priorities…
How committed are you to the outcome.
What are you prepared to do to make it happen.
How much are you willing to invest, of your Time, Money, Effort...
And I had to deal with it. In fact, I’m still dealing with these questions as I tend to raise my bar regularly now. There really is no limit except what’s in our heads, but while the dream is free, the hustle always comes at a price.
So now I’m turning this question over to you.
Where do you want your business to be next year?
How do you want to grow?
Where are your priorities?
And how committed are you to the outcome?
HOW BIG DO YOU WANT TO PLAY?
I put together the online Mastermind for photographers who have a dream and are willing to do what it takes, do the work, make it happen.
A small group of people who understand they don’t have to reinvent the wheel, or waste time on trial and error.
Who want to powerboost their business and shine, literally shine, over and above their competition.
We will work through every aspect of your business, and for 6 months you’ll have my support and a space to interact with the others, have your questions answered, discuss every issue, develop strategies, and work in confidence.
Only 10 spots, and a few are already gone. Extra bonuses if you join before 17 September, because we start in 4 weeks (and learning to make quick decisions is important too).
Are you one of us? Read all about it in the OTB group for professional photographers (join us!) https://www.facebook.com/groups/OutsidetheBoxEvolution/
And friend me on fb and message me with your questions, I’ll be glad to talk to you and see if it’s right for you :)
…TO YOUR BIGGEST YEAR YET.
There was a time when I thought that if I developed a good system, kept on top of my work, devoted hours to honing my craft and devoured every bit of useful information on creating a better business, I would slowly grow and grow until I reached the place I wanted my business to be.
Little did I know that it just doesn’t work like this, and after much heartache, trial and countless errors, I’ve come to realize that business growth is much less of a linear path and much more of a mountain hike, with rocks, boulders, jumps and a few crevasses thrown in for good measure.
We’re bombarded with how-to videos, tutorials and articles on every subject under the sun. There’s a good way to do everything and we have access to all the information in the world, the best experts, the coolest podcasts, the most inspiring writers.
There are rules in photography, rules in business, accepted rules, social conventions, cultural biases and generally accepted behaviour that we recognize in some way as either familiar to us or something to aspire to, something we would like to learn how to do, a position we’d like to be in. So we consume an incredible amount of information each day, in the never-ending quest to make ourselves better, our work stronger, and our business more profitable.
Does it work? Sometimes. But often not so much. Information is often conflicting, and then we’re afraid of making mistakes, of not quite knowing enough to pull it off, and we retreat into what we know. The safe zones.
I spent years (and lots of money) to learn and study everything I could get my hands on, to get my business off the ground. But in the end the biggest lessons I learnt were from either failures and disasters, or the times where I went my own way, took risks and succeeded in jumping to higher ground.
I’m all for learning from others, and indeed I believe we never should stop learning, but I never sat well within the standard or the norm. I always wanted to take something and then innovate, experiment, find new solutions. The world is changing so fast, how can we think that the same systems and techniques that worked ten years ago would still be valid now? Change is everywhere, and we just can’t afford to stay stuck while doing the same things over and over.
Our business starts with our individual self, in our case (for most of us) WE are the face of our brand. And our face is our fortune, I heard someone say the other day, and it’s so true!
Competition is something we need to get out of, but how? Certainly not by doing what everyone else does, using pre-set solutions and copying what everyone else says and does.
Breaking the rules of composition may be part of your unique style. We understand that about images, but we don’t quite see it the same way about running our business. We all have to work within the same parameters, in photography and in business, and once we learn to do it we can develop our unique style. Brand. Look. Character. Mood. Products. Service. All of that is US.
Finding your own way in business is as important as finding your style in photography, and it’s not as simple as following a bunch of free tutorials.
It comes with hours of work but most of all it comes from seeing a bigger picture and learning to move within a broader spectrum. Finding the space to create something that’s uniquely yours, that resonates with your clients, and not only makes your business thrive but your heart sing as well :)
There’s a saying, “Fake it ‘till you make it”, which is based on the assumption that if you DO something for enough time, even if you’re not quite ready or good at it, you’ll end up doing it for real and even be successful at it. It can work on certain things (not surgery for instance), but I think the idea of “faking” it, the word used, is wrong.
What is true about what goes on in our brain is a bit more complicated, so bear with me as I try to get into a little grammatical nightmare to explain it. You may need to read some of this twice :)
Let’s say we’re stuck, or at a standstill, in our work. We’re not making much progress and we don’t quite know what to do. We know we need to change something but we don’t know what. We read stuff, watch tutorials, get a million conflicting information, and we’re still stuck. We want BIG changes, but all we manage to do is tweak things a little (this applies to any area of our life, not just work).
But how does change actually happen? What brings it about? What do we need to do to instigate change in our lives? As you can imagine, it doesn’t start from the outside, it starts on the inside, it starts in our brains and the way we think, but then… action is always needed. And here’s how it works.
We get ourselves ready in our minds, willing to change, ready for change, and in doing so we’re already changing somehow because we choose to BE by the way we think and believe (here’s maybe a little of the fake it, because we actually fake it to ourselves).
Our thoughts do shape our world, and even stronger than thoughts are our BELIEFS. But this is not mere wishful thinking, or the law of attraction, because those only become real in our BEING when we actually DO something about them, repeatedly and consistently.
We set intentions, we visualize or meditate or whatever gets us there, we start to feel what we want to feel, we make it more and more real in our minds and in ourselves, and we do change in the process, but then it’s the DOING that truly seals the BEING and makes sure there’s no going back from there.
The steps forward we have to take are always risks, are always out of our comfort zone, are always new, and always fitting to the new us, not the old us. They’re not so familiar, or easy, at all.
But those are the steps that make us BE different, and we find ourselves in them, and then we ARE, we don’t just DO.
BEING and DOING so interconnected and one necessary to the other, a total two-way street.
And some of the things we get to DO are totally dependent on how we BE (there goes the grammar), because if we ARE not different we would not have the opportunity to DO, but at the same time it’s the DOING that really seals the BEING, and makes it forever part of us, seals the groove, makes it alive and real and authentic, and that in turn is the basis for the next change, the next step, the next state of BEING.
And we find ourselves on the other side, changed on the inside, as we look around and see our work moving, growing, finally unstuck.
Confused? I would be! LOL :D Told you it might require a second reading… but now you know how it works. Our brains are intricate things.
And if you’re wondering why I chose a crappy picture of a bonsai snapped at a restaurant last night, it’s because - in the words of my daughter as we were discussing this post and I was wondering what to use as an image - “See that tree? It’s BEING there, but it’s not DOING anything!”
If you’re ready for change, I’m all about giving you the steps to move forward and take action (and promise they will be clear and simple and not at all confusing, and even grammatically correct).
You can BE at The next Outside the Box Workshop in Vienna in October, and start DOING stuff you never thought you would. Early Bird dies on 17 August, so jump in and save it!
Read all about it on
Read and watch testimonials on the event page
If you haven’t already joined, the professional photographers group is here
And if you can’t BE there, leave a comment and I’ll send you details of the new Mastermind online group, which might or might not get launched tomorrow, but only has 10 places anyway :)
I just spent two days on phone calls and planning and not much else, which usually makes me feel like I’m behind and lacking in some way. When not a lot gets done, I find myself feeling like I’m two steps behind and constantly need to catch up.
Being an entrepreneur means we set our own schedules and manage our own time, which is precisely why I chose this life, but then we have to actually show up and do the work with nobody to answer to except ourselves… and I can be a mean boss. I’m also not very disciplined, and I need high energy to work well or I get too easily distracted.
I remember a time when I was sick and always tired, and it took me ages to get anything done. Now I steamroll through stuff and enjoy the process because I love my work, but there are zombie days too. Yet, I’m learning not to beat myself up for those, the way I used to.
They’re just as necessary as the higher energy days, in fact I probably couldn’t work so well on those days without a zombie day now and then.
And I increasingly find that as I allow myself to have them, zombie days turn into planning days, new ideas days, very creative days when things hatch (like dragon eggs) and then find their way into the powerdays and come to life.
So I know that those days are important, and why feel like I wasted time? Time is such a personal concept. We know we all have the same time, but have you ever considered we have ALL the time in the world? Because we do. You have all the time you’re ever going to have. And everything you do will have an effect, but the biggest gamechanger in our battles with Time is our mind and our perception of it.
Thinking we never have enough time is a habit, it’s not the truth. We all have all the time we need. Yet, what our minds tell us is “you messed up, you wasted time, now you can never recover it again”.
And the feeling we’re left with, what we walk around with all day? It’s LACK.
Like we lost something we can never get back and now our life cannot be perfect, cannot be what we want it to be. But that’s a lie.
I married today, exactly 30 years ago. It didn’t go well, and I wasn’t happy for many of those years, but none of it was wasted time. Because this time made me who I am today.
Regret has no place in our lives, unless we want to stay stuck and keep blaming “something other” for the situations we’re in. It is what it is, and now I’m set to make this good.
I can hang on and regret, or I can let go and start every day new.
I can think of my unproductive day and feel lack, or I can take it in my stride as a necessary step to make today an excellent day.
Because today holds every promise, every potential, every dream, and ALL the power.
I can do anything today. I can BE anything I choose. I can believe everything today.
And I’m in the business of creating my tomorrows, not regretting my yesterdays.
What we think and what we believe will shape this day. We can monitor our thoughts, and if we need to change them… change them. Taking the time we need so that when we move we can be unstoppable (cue Sia song here).
We are our own powerhouses, and we need down time too, time to process, think, or just blank out. It’s all good.
And yes, dragon eggs are mentioned in this post.
...but at the same time it has to have space to grow. We can plant seeds all day long, but the soil has to be fertile and there needs to be air and light (my mom is a ninja gardener, I know these things).
Fertile soil is of course our skills and competence, or knowledge, but air and light are the time and freedom to be quiet and bring things to life, make your vision real, plan it, shape it, design it, write it, develop it, print it. It can’t happen when all your time is taken up by the daily grind, the endless hours behind a computer, the editing into the night, the neverending juggling of bills and expenses, and let’s not even go into our private life!
Yet to grow we need air and light. A good workflow that minimizes time and stress. A good balance in our books, for financial peace of mind. A good schedule in our days, to take the time off we need for ourselves and to nourish our creativity (yes it needs food too! Life is a lot about food hehe). A good team of people around us, to help, encourage, inspire us to do better. And good energy, enthusiasm, our batteries fully charged, our inner smile turned on, our light shining.
To spread beauty into this world, our own little drop in the ocean, which is really the essence of Life.
A few years back, in the middle of my darkest time, I vowed that I would not only turn my life around, but I would make it exciting.
Are you willing to join this adventure?
In the next few days I’ll announce something to move into a whole different direction… a small group of photographers motivated and committed to change their game and get their lives where they want them to be.
Outside the Box Mastermind is an online group of just 10 photographers working together for 9 months, going through all the OTB modules, in-depth and together, supported by me throughout the program.
Interested? Let me know and I’ll PM you the details before it goes public.
And if you're a professional photographer not in the OTB group yet, join here:
The other day on a fb post about turnaround moments (which you can find here http://www.fabriziacosta.com/blog/the-turnaround-point) someone commented that talent is necessary to get anywhere in photography. This is the view held by many photographers, and to some extent it's true but I believe that talent is overrated. Yes, you do need something special to be exceptional, there’s no doubt about that, but you don’t need that to be a success in this world.
We all have some talent, every single one of us, and the issue here is that many have not yet found out what their talent is and how to use it. In reality, hidden talent will emerge when we get down to work, take action, commit, learn, train, and put hours into it.
They say that if you do something for 10,000 hours you become an expert. And that’s probably true, in terms of learning a skill and gaining specific knowledge about something, but that’s only about 50% of what we need to succeed in our business. The other 50% is what goes on in your head, what you believe you can and cannot do, and being open to receive. We’re so bad at receiving, we self-sabotage a lot. Negative talk in our heads will undermine all the work we do, but if we do the work and keep those voices down, there’s really no limit to what we can achieve.
We all know wonderful talented people who are struggling to make ends meet, or who can’t make a living out of their art and have to work a 9-5 job to survive. So is talent the defining factor? It’s quite clearly not the case!
Success is not just for the talented, it’s for everyone who’s willing to step further and put themselves out there and dare to be great. Your talent will emerge, grow and shine as you do the work, but your ability to generate wealth, or whatever your idea of success may be, lies much deeper than what you’re good at doing.
Whether you feel you’re talented or not, be aware it’s not the deciding factor in a successful business and life. Some even use that as an excuse to hold back! For years I didn’t even try to do things that I wanted to do because I kept saying I’m not good at them. And while I may still not be very good at them now (you don’t want to hear me sing), if I invested time and I trained with a teacher I would definitely become better… and eventually maybe even good! (watch this space for updates on my musical career ;)
Are you where you want to be in your business? Whatever you need to improve, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel. I’m going to announce something in the next few days that will help you take your work in a whole different direction… I’ll be working with a closed group of 10 photographers motivated and committed to change their game and get their lives where they want them to be.
It’s Outside the Box Mastermind, just 10 photographers working together for 9 months, going through all the OTB modules in-depth and together, supported by me throughout the program.
Interested? Let me know and I’ll PM you the details before it goes public.
And if you're a professional photographer not in the OTB group yet, join here:
It’s like one ball in tennis. It can be the one point that turns the match around. One point, at any time, that comes just when it’s needed, and the effect is bigger than one point. It can define a game, a set, and even a match.
In a long match there are sometimes many of these, and they’re always BIG points. Memorable points. Emotionally charged. Points that are sometimes gambles, involving risk, to win or lose. Big risks sometimes. Like some of our decisions.
And they don’t always pay off, but playing it safe on those points is also no guarantee of getting them. In fact, it’s usually the risk-takers who win them.
The bold moves, the outrageous dares. The unexpected returns, the shots out of this world.
Champions train for these moments, when the pressure is huge and the stakes are high, but they (even they!) are only human after all.
Mistakes are made, and key points are scored. In tennis, in the end there’s only one winner. The match is limited, so many games, so many sets.
It’s not so for us, we can play as long as we want to… in fact we can play until we win.
No mistake is deadly, no mistake will ruin us (even if we think so), no mistake is the end of us. We can always learn and move on.
Recognize the big points, and be bold to go after them, and take risks if need be. And score. One ball at a time.
And if we feel fear holding us back we can focus on the game instead, nobody ever got anywhere by holding back.
Losing champions, they get to come back again next year. It’s never really over until they quit.
We come back tomorrow, and keep playing until we decide to quit, or win.
All it takes is a good set of balls.