Growing up I was never told to dream, that I could achieve anything I wanted, or that there was literally a whole world of opportunity out there just waiting for me to come and get it! I was born and raised in the north of England, in a typical mill village, in a typical post-industrial city. There is a saying in England which goes, ‘It’s grim up north,’ and to a certain extent it was and still is, but maybe in more metaphorical terms these days.
Dreams were shot down like pheasants in hunting season. All that was left in the dissipating smoke was the harsh reality of those times. You leave school, you work in a factory, you reach retirement, you die! This had been the circle of life for so many generations before me it had been ingrained into the mental fabric of society. No one had big dreams, and if you did, they were laughed at. You couldn’t openly be creative, or you would be ridiculed.
When I was younger, the cool kids were the bad ones, the ones that didn’t do their homework, missed school and sat on the playing fields smoking their parents’ cigarettes that they pinched that same morning before leaving the house. This lifestyle can only lead to one type of negative, fixed mindset and outlook. So when the awesome folks at KelbyOne asked me to write a guest blog, I discarded the usual thoughts of the usual Photoshop tips and techniques (we’ve read them a million times). Instead I thought I would share with you the biggest revelation in my life. That if you change your mindset, you change your life!
Technique and decent images will get you going in the correct direction, but it will only take you so far! To push yourself beyond that, you have to change your mindset! Below are the ramblings, advice, and hopefully some helpful tips from my own experiences, mishaps, and adventures whilst changing my own mindset.
BUILDING A GOOD FOUNDATION FOR CHANGE
To change your mindset, you have to first build a good foundation from the bottom up, on which you can build the new mindset. This will mean changing your old beliefs, discarding your old bad habits and creating new ones. The best way to to do this is through discipline. When I say discipline I am not talking about the kind of discipline an angry teacher gives out to a naughty school child, but the kind that teaches you how to train yourself in a controlled and habitual way.
Success isn’t built upon the big things, it is built upon the little things you do consistently every…single…..day! It is about creating routines that you follow every morning which sets you up for the trials and tribulations of the day. It’s about making lists with tasks and goals on every…single…day. It is even about exercise, staying consistent and showing up each and every day!
What this does to you is to create a sense of achievement. Slowly you will see changes, which will lead to confidence, which will lead to a new belief, which leads to change. I get up at 5 am, I go downstairs and work out. I hydrate, I shower, then cold shower (don’t knock it until you have tried it haha). I write in my journal. I replenish myself with food. I meditate…….then I am ready to get to work!
We have been following our routines and new habits consistently, slowly building up the foundations. Now we need to apply our framework. And that framework is positive energy.
We need to eliminate that negative, self-deprecating voice in our heads. The one that decides to make an appearance when you are about to make a decision, or when you are halfway through your latest image. The one that sneaks up on you when you least expect it and whispers, “You aren’t good enough…” quietly into your ear. Obviously, this is the brain trying to protect us from getting hurt, creating fear. It is an outdated system built into us from a time where we had to hunt for food and be on the lookout for predators rustling in a bush.
Like the creation of our new belief system and habits, we have to train our brain constantly and consistently into thinking positively. To have a positive mindset, you need to create a positive lifestyle. Get rid of any negative influences in your life, including people. You are a product of your environment. If that environment is constantly dragging you down you will find it more difficult to stay positive.
Be mindful of your thoughts, and create awareness. If you have a negative thought, be aware, note that it is a negative thought, and then try replacing that with something more positive. Maybe you have a new adventure coming up or an event to go to. It takes time, but eventually, you can train the brain to lean towards the positive instead of the negative. Discarding those negative thoughts will be as easy as throwing out the trash.
Another way to be mindful is meditation. The brain runs on energy, and that energy is depleted throughout the day. Just 15 minutes of meditation a day is enough to recharge the grey matter in your skull, but again the key is consistency!!!
One more piece of the positivity puzzle is Gratitude. Be grateful for everything you have. The more you can show gratitude, even for the challenges you face, the easier life becomes. The more you radiate gratitude the more positive your energy will be.
Now I know this all sounds like new age mystical bull crap (I used to think the same), but it works. Say thank you for even the smallest gestures with a smile and it affects everyone around you. And last but not least, sleep! Recharge your battery, we don’t have an unlimited supply of energy. If you are constantly tired, your energy will be low, which leads to feeling tired and weak, just enough for those negative thoughts to pop right back in and start causing mischief.
Which would you rather do, stay up and tackle those emails with low energy and negativity, or go to bed early and attack the day like a beast?! I know which I prefer.
GET TO WORK!
So we have a strong foundation, with a stable and positive framework. Now it’s time to get to work! This is what we have been preparing our new mindset for. You don’t get anything in this world without putting the work in. This is where the herd usually starts to thin, because some people are just not prepared to put in the time and effort that is needed to succeed.
When I say hard work, I mean obsession. You have to literally live and breath what you want. You have to immerse yourself in that thing, and then live it. You need to be prepared to sacrifice the free time you have. So no sitting in front of the television and watching soaps. No going out and hitting the town every weekend with your friends. Any spare time you have has to be dedicated to your new obsession.
And all you naturally talented folk out here, don’t think because you have talent you can ease off the pedal, because hard work beats talent if talent doesn’t work hard. You have to be proactive and take any opportunity that arises, action beats intention every time.
For three years I worked nine hours a day at a warehouse, whilst being a single dad, fitting in my photography around it in the free hours I had. I would go to bed at midnight and get up at 5 am. At first it might seem like nothing is happening. But with persistence and patience, slowly the hard work will pile up until eventually the seeds of your effort will start to grow!
Hard work isn’t just blood, sweat and tears. It is also making good decisions, taking opportunities and creating opportunities. It’s about taking no excuses and banging on the door constantly. Eventually, someone will answer. And if not, make enough noise until they do!
BE HAPPY TO FAIL
This doesn’t mean try to fail! No one wants to fail, but failure at some point, in some shape or form will happen. Especially in the beginning. If you can change at least one thing in your mindset that will greatly impact your life overall, it is that failure is nothing to be afraid of.
Expect to fail a lot. And when it does happen just be happy in the knowledge that you have just been taught something. The fates have just schooled you. If you can step back, calmly analyse what happened and why, then the next time the same mistake should not happen. If it does, then reanalyse and try again.
Every obstacle you hit in life is just a problem that needs solving. Eventually, you will work it out. My own experience and career are built on failure. I had no mentors, no one to show me how things were done, I learned by trying and failing over and over again. Growing each and every time it happened. Failure is just a lesson on how to get better at something, always remember that and you will tackle every mistake and misstep like a boss!
HOW TO WIN FRIENDS AND INFLUENCE PEOPLE
Relationships are vital to your rise, and with your new mindset finding your tribe should be easier than ever. You need to surround yourself with like-minded people who will push you, inspire you, and challenge you, but also not be scared to tell you if you are in the wrong.
Learn to smile, be open and honest. If you are genuine, people will gravitate towards you. Give without expecting anything back. Celebrate their successes and be happy for them. I would call myself an extroverted introvert, or Ambivert, as it has also been called. If you are an introvert, learn how to network, learn conversation starters and choose your battles.
Don’t think that you constantly have to be the loudest in the room, or even constantly talking. I know myself, and I can do a certain length of time before I have to go have some quiet time and recharge. There is nothing wrong with this at all; do whatever works for you. But don’t shy away from networking. Throw yourself into it. Beat that social anxiety. The more you experience it the more you will feel comfortable with it.
I had a huge fear of talking to crowds, and now I’m doing workshops around the world. It’s all in the mind! It takes time, but you can do it!
And last of all, be yourself. You are your own unique entity. Own your weirdness. It is what separates you from everyone else and is usually why people take notice. You may feel it is easier to blend in and be like the others because you feel comfortable. It’s safe. Well, safe is bad. We don’t like safe. Work out which parts of your personality are the most unique and then celebrate them. In a world full of squares, be a triangle!
WON’T STOP, DON’T STOP ………LEARNING
Our new mindset should be changing our lives, but don’t stop there, there is no finish line. It will be an ever growing work in progress where there are no limits. We need to nourish and grow our new mindset. We do this with new information, by learning and questioning. The best way to do this is through reading, watching, listening and first-hand experience.
I read anywhere between 30-60 mins every night. I scheduled it into my daily routine. Not only are you learning, but it’s a good way of winding down for sleep at the end of the day. One of the quickest ways to learn is video. YouTube is a goldmine of knowledge. Simply choose your subject and there will be 100s of free videos at your disposal. But don’t stop learning by being confined to a book or a screen.
For people who like to learn on the go anywhere and everywhere, you have podcasts. Podcasts have literally changed how I receive my information. I can learn from anywhere….all I need is my phone and some earphones. Long drive to work, cool!! Stick on a podcast and fit some extra learning time in. Washing up, great, extra learning time whilst cleaning the house. Finishing tasks off at work, fantastic! Stick on a………Ahhh you know the drill.
You have not got any excuses to not be learning. If you want to keep the mind sharp, be current and ready to evolve, you need to keep those brain meats growing and evolving too. Once you think there is nothing else to learn, that’s when it’s game over.
And last of all……
ENJOY THE PROCESS
Too many people think that happiness is created by the result. That once they get that award, then they can be happy. Or once they hit that milestone, then they can be happy…..or once they get X amount of money, that then they can finally be happy.
Well, those moments are fleeting. The excitement is awesome, but three days later the feeling is gone and it’s back to normality. Happiness is something that is created from day to day. It is not passive. It is not something that you should wait for to happen to you. You have to find happiness in the process.
It’s in the little victories every week. It’s in the struggles that push you to grow. It’s in the eyes of a happy client! Don’t focus only on the end result or you will miss all the good stuff in between. And that, my friends, is where the magic is. Trust me, once I realized this, my whole life changed.
Remember, change your mindset, change your life! It doesn’t matter where you are from, how you were raised or what circumstances you live in, we all have the ability to change our mindset. If this once no-hoper from Yorkshire can do it, then anyone can do it! Don’t be a product of your environment, make your environment a product of you!
I am an award-winning Photographer, Digital Artist, and Educator who resides in the UK. I specialize in composite imagery and creative retouching, mainly within the independent movie industry. I create movie posters, promotional material and bespoke digital art for clients worldwide. With a unique vision and photographic style that smacks with attitude, I combine cinematic reality with comic book fantasy.
Published in numerous magazines, both online and in print, locally and internationally. Each image is created with a true artists passion, meticulously crafted in Photoshop using high-end photo post-production and digital art techniques.