Are you using the vacation mindset or the adventure mindset when it comes to your photography and life? The one you choose can affect how you experience everything.
Let me tell you a little story about it…
It was a beautiful sunny day as we all piled into the van, almost bouncing with excitement. We were heading off to explore the famous Pike Place Market in Seattle, the longest continually run farmer’s market in the USA. We had been dreaming for weeks about all the amazing sights we would see and treats we would eat. We were so pumped to finally be going.
Rob put the key in the ignition, ready to get the trip underway and…..nothing. Nada. Silence.
The van would not start.
In that instant, the whole day came crashing to a halt, and our food-filled dreams along with it. Now we weren’t looking forward to a great day taking in the sights. We were wondering what went wrong with the van, and worried that we wouldn’t even be able to get home.
It’s a stressful situation, to be certain. Car troubles are a surefire way to ruin a trip.
Or maybe not…
Two Different Perspectives
See, I think that when it comes to many things in life, whether you have a good or bad experience relies a lot on your mindset, not on your circumstances.
Let’s take this trip, for example. There are two ways I could think about it:
1. A vacation: an extended period of recreation. It conjures up images of relaxation, enjoyment, and a happy feeling.
2. An adventure: an exciting, typically hazardous, experience. This word suggests thrills as well as challenges.
If I was thinking about our trip as a vacation, then this car trouble would have completely ruined it. No longer were we relaxed and happy. We were stressed and worried. The vacation bubble was shattered, and there was nothing we could do to get it back.
But, if I looked at the trip as an adventure, then this was completely to be expected! It was a challenge to be solved, nothing more. It didn’t ruin anything. It was simply part of the experience.
The Positive Sides of Problems
In fact, this car trouble came with many positives. We all managed to stay calm, and work together to figure out how to solve it. No one got mad – we simply accepted this as our new priority. It felt empowering to know that we could handle a problem without getting upset.
It also gave us the opportunity to be grateful.
We are grateful for the friend who, at the very last minute as we were leaving town, convinced us to borrow his battery jumper, enabling us to get the car started.
We are grateful for the many many generous Seattleites who gave us assistance and advice, without asking for anything in return.
And we are grateful for the opportunity to gain perspective. Though our situation was frustrating, it was also, in the grand scheme of things, a very very small issue. We were lucky to be dealing with something so minor.
And hey, it was kind of funny too! If you’ve ever dealt with a dead battery, you’ll know that once you get it started you need to keep it running for a long time to let it recharge.
Refusing to let the issue completely ruin our day, we raced around the city, seeking out donuts and coffee, and running in to grab them while keeping the van going.
Munching on our treats, we tried to figure out how to fill the van back up with gas without getting stranded at the pump. We sat on the edge of our seats, crossing all of our fingers and toes every time we had to start it again after fuelling up.
These are the kinds of experiences you remember down the road. They were the moments when you banded together, became a team, and learned how to solve a problem. That’s the whole point of an adventure after all – to test yourself, to experience, and to learn.
Over the course of the trip we had to jump start our van four times before Rob was able to solve the problem. And on the journey home it threw us another curve ball, and had us wondering if we would be truly stranded once and for all.
But we weren’t. Once again, we all stayed calm, worked together, and figured out what to do. We got home, safe and sound, with happy memories of the entire experience. The trip wasn’t ruined from all these problems, because it was always an adventure, and that’s what adventures are made of.
What It Means For Your Photography
Now, the importance of this mindset shift extends beyond just travel. It applies to your photography and daily life as well.
When you are approaching your work, are you thinking of it as a vacation? Do you expect everything to be fun and easy? Or are you viewing it as an adventure – fully anticipating struggles and hardships, but knowing that those things are what will help you grow as an artist?
And if you run a business, do you have the vacation mindset, and do you see any problems that arise as something that ruins the experience? Or are you prepared for the difficulties that are sure to come your way, and able to accept them as inevitable and necessary parts of the adventure?
Next time you’re faced with a problem, in photography, travel, business or life, try saying “This is just part of the adventure”. You might find that small shift in perspective makes a world of difference, and lets you embrace the problem as just a challenge to learn from.