5 Lies We Tell Ourselves That Lead to Burn Out

Sep 15, 2023

Think about it, at any other job, if we are overworked and underappreciated...we don't stay. We start looking for other jobs. As business owners, we are doing this to ourselves. We are overworking ourselves, making excuses, and running ourselves into the ground. Here are five lies we are telling ourselves that lead to this burnout.

1) The more you hustle, the more successful you are

 While yes, hustling can lead to success, this is an excuse we use in business to justify overworking ourselves. While it is true that we have to work hard in those first years of building our business, we also need to find balance so we don't overwork ourselves to the point of giving up. The whole hustle culture leads to photographers giving up early on in their careers. We need to remember that this thing is long-term. We are not just building a business but a career and that takes time. So many people think that if I just hustle for the first years, I won't have to work very hard after that. This leads to so many people getting burned out and wanting to step back from their businesses. How do we reign in the hustle?

  • Stop giving so many discounts in your business. Every time you discount a session or a wedding, you now have to take on more work to make the same money. You feel like more is better, but that isn't true. More discounted sessions to get to the same spot of less full priced sessions ISN'T better. More isn't better. You are actually having to work harder and you are doing this to yourself. Don't be afraid to say no and not give a discount or a low budget client.
  • Invest in education. This is something so many new photographers put off doing because you are just going to hustle and figure it out yourself. I know, because that was me. If you would just invest in a mentor or course that shows you how to run and market your business, you can start your business off on the right foot instead of working harder to get to the same results. In the end, you save yourself money by spending money... because you save yourself a LOT of time. Stop trying to do everything on your own. Think about this: you start a new job and they say: do you want us to teach you how to do the job or do you want to try and figure it out? It would be silly to try and figure out how to do a job you know nothing about. Photography and starting a business is no different.

2) We don't have time to take a day off

 We've all been there, thinking that we don't have time to take the day off. If we take that day off, we will be behind. Typically, when you step away and come back with a fresh mind, you do things better. Tired and stressed work will never be your best work. If you allow yourself to take time off, you will actually be more productive when you are working and producing better quality work. Taking the time off is worth it for your business. Put them on your calendar if you need to. Don't feel guilty about taking a day off. Every other job you have ever worked gives you day off every week.

3) We have to take every piece of business that inquiries with us

 We feel like we have to take every single person who inquiries and the more business the better. This is not true and not sustainable. You will be so much happier when you take things you really want to take and make sense for your business. It is ok to not take on certain types of sessions. You will be happier NOT taking them. Taking on everything because you feel like you have to leads to you not enjoying it, dreading that session, and leading to feeling burned out. 

We need to start by making realistic attainable goals for ourselves. We need this because we struggle to say no. If it is free on our calendar, we want to fill that space. Instead, we need to know what our goals are and what our current projected income is for all our future months. This allows us to say, I've reached my goal, I am not longer taking more work on for this month. This will help us say no and stop taking on more than we can handle. This is harder said than done. 

4) The client is always right

 While yes, we are in a customer service based industry, we also can say no. The client isn't always right. You don't have to always be a people pleaser. You can say no to working with clients with red flags or that are extra difficult to work with. It is ok to "fire" a client. We just need to make sure that we are doing it in an approporiate way. We should not be allowing clients to treat us disrespectfully or talk to us a certain way.

There will also be situations where a client isn't happy. We hate this. We are people pleasers. We want everyone to be happy. This just isn't realistic. Our first instinct is to give away the world, free sessions and refunds. If it is a sitations where YOU made a mistake, obviously this is different. But, there will be situations where the things the client is not happy about are things that don't involve you or your business, things where you did nothing wrong. They don't like their hair, the outfit they wore, the location they chose, etc. If you produced quality work you are happy with, these don't qualify for refunds of any kind or free sessions in my book. It is ok to stand up for your business. Honestly, there are those people out there who are always looking to nitpick everything and try to get free stuff. 

5) Our follower count on social media equals our success

 A lot of us feel burned out by social media. We act like our follower count pays our bills, but it doesn't. We try to tie our success to our follower count and that is exhausting and sustainable. The feeling of always having to be on social media leads us to not wanting to be at all. Social media burnout leads to burnout in other parts of our lives. We need to create a strong marketing strategy that allows us to stop relying on social media for all of our leads so we have the ability to step back.



 At the end of the day, we need to step back and ask ourselves, why did I start this business? For most of us, it isn't because we wanted to have no balance, never see our families, and work 24/7. That is what we are doing ourselves. For a lot of us we created this business to have a certain lifestyle. We want that balance, but we are the reason we don't have it. We need to work towards finding what makes us happy in our business, creating realistic goals for ourselves, and not overworking ourselves beyond that.