Tough Love Tuesday: What Measures Success?


I once had a conversation with a fellow photographer, and she said this to me: "Some people just don't want to be successful to themselves as much as they want to be successful to others." I agreed with her. I'm going to speak from a creative background, but I'm sure this applies to many careers.

It's a tough life choice to decide you want to work in a creative field. The pay can be very inconsistent, and most people in your life will not take your job seriously so of course, you will want to appear as successful as possible to your peers, friends, and family. The problem with this though it can get negative really fast. Instead of motivating yourself to book bigger jobs or get 10 more weddings this year to better yourself and your business, it turns into watching what other people are doing or a big game of one-upmanship.

Social media is the prime location for showing off. It's the perfectly curated version of yourself that you present to the world. You see the new gear, the fun behind the scenes photos, the gorgeous all-white apartment. You don't know if the person going into the debt buying that equipment or the photoshoot was actually not paid, or the gorgeous apartment is actually your friend's. It seems like people need to show everyone else how fabulous they're doing to be taken seriously.

It is easy to compare yourself to others. It happens to the best of us. The problem is that it starts to feel like you're playing a big game of catch up trying to appear as successful as those around you. You have to keep in mind that you don't know what is happening in other people's private lives. The overnight success story you see on social media really could have been years of struggle and hard work to get to where they are now. You can't assume someone is doing great just because they post awesome photos on social media. That is what they want you to see. You can't measure success from someone's Instagram posts.

Don't compare your beginning to someone else's middle or end.

So to go back to "Some people just don't want to be successful to themselves as much as they want to be successful to others.", I think that people need to take a step back and remember that they need to work hard for themselves to better their own careers and lives. You have to do it for yourself because while you're too busy analyzing what everyone else is doing, someone else is working their ass off to be the best at their craft and will leave you behind in the dust.

This is a pretty big subject that I will probably revisit in the future. Meanwhile, tell me how social media has affected you and your career. Do you catch yourself watching what other people are doing instead of focusing on your own career?