“You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist.” – Friedrich Nietzsche
Tell me if this sounds familiar:
You’re faced with a tough decision to make – like which new camera to buy or which album company to use.
The choice isn’t easy, and you know it’s going to have an impact on your photographic future. So you research.
You research the ever-living-daylights out of it.
You dig deep into forums and blogs, you email random strangers for their opinion, you make pro/con lists a mile long, you compare prices on about five dozen websites, and spend countless hours trying to figure out the right decision. By the end you’re more of an expert than the guy at the camera store, and you wind up teaching him about all the great features of the camera that make it such a great choice.
This is me when it comes to just about anything. I’ll spend weeks researching the right brand of baby soap to use. And sadly no, that’s not an exaggeration.
It’s not because I’m crazy that I do this (at least that’s what I will continue to tell myself). It’s because I want to do well. I don’t want to mess up, make the wrong decision, and wind up failing. I don’t want my kid’s hair to all fall out because I used shampoo that wasn’t uber-mega-natural.
The Trouble With Research
The problem is that with so many options, benefits, and information out there, it’s easy to feel overloaded when looking for the right choice.
Sometimes I get so confused about what to do I put off making a decision for ages. The easier choice is to make no choice at all, so I just ignore the problem until it pops up again and I’m forced to decide in the spur of the moment.
Or, most frustrating of all, I think I’ve made the right choice, I do my victory dance, and then a week later I see someone has made the opposite choice. Boom, I’m right back to square one, filled with anxiety, pulling my hair out wondering why. Do they know something I don’t?? Did I make the wrong choice and now I’m going to fail? I should do some more research, yeah!! Then I’ll figure out which is the right way!
Cue the face slap of perspective.
I was drifting in this stormy sea of uncertainty and indecision until I realized one very simple thing:
There is no right way.
What Works For Them May Not Work For You
There are as many ways to be a successful photographer as there are photographers. There are as many ways to create a strong business, and lead a happy life as there are people.
What works for you won’t necessarily work for your friend. What works for Photographer Joe over in the next town won’t necessarily work for you.
It’s simply impossible to know all the factors that go into why someone else made a particular choice. They have different goals and circumstances than you. And what’s more: you won’t know the actual results of that choice. It might work for a year, and then end up failing. Or it might fail for a year, and then end up working!
And I know you probably hear this all the time, and it seems so obvious, but when you’re struggling with a tough problem, or nervous about a big change, it can be easy to forget as you’re grasping for some magic solution that is guaranteed to work.
But This Is Not An Excuse!
Now here’s a very big caveat: this is not an excuse to not do any research. The absence of a “right way” doesn’t mean that you can just wing it.
Learning is, and will always be, one of the most important parts of success, no matter what you’re doing.
I mean, without understanding the basic principles of how a camera works (aperture, shutter speed, ISO), you’ll be hard pressed to create your best work.
And without understanding the important best practices of running a business, success may be hard to achieve.
What this is all about is the how. How you implement those things. What ideas you decide to try, and which ones you leave because they don’t fit for you.
And that’s the big take-away. You need to stop searching for “the right way”, and start looking for what is right for you.
Here’s What To Do
So define your goals and do your research. Then choose your plan to fit your own unique situation. Act on it, stick with it, and see if it works. If it’s not working for you, change it. But only because of what’s going on in your world. Not because of someone else’s world.
It’s completely natural to want to make the right choices and avoid the wrong ones. But until you start focusing on your own reality, and making your choices based on your own situation, you’ll be stuck in that stormy sea of uncertainty. And that’s not going to bring you anything but sea-sickness.
Now excuse me while I go give my son a bath with his 100% certified natural baby shampoo that had 98% positive ratings with over 300 reviews.
It’s a work in progress.