Sue Bryce: Don’t Be Afraid To Change Directions

sue bryce portrait photographers
Image by Felix Kunze via Instagram

New Year’s Resolutions are nothing if not ubiquitous; the idea to resolve to make a change is such a popular one that the US Government even tracks it as a metric. There are industries and ad campaigns and millions of dollars of investments made in the notion that people need to change and that January is the time to do it. But there’s a sort of unspoken — and perhaps unexamined — element to this idea, which is that when we say we want lose weight, volunteer more, or get a better education, we are implicitly agreeing that we did not do enough of those things the previous year.

If you’ve made a resolution (reminder: It’s ok if you haven’t) and you want to make very sure you make it so, ask yourself this question: Where is the daylight between what you want to be doing and what you were doing last year? What kept you from making these changes before? And what, if anything, can help make them more possible this year?

The answer, most likely, is that those things seem scary, or hard, or too far away, or somehow out of reach. Close, not quite there.

And while many of us would rather hide from our challenges, identifying and examining those challenges is most often the best way to overcome than — or even figure out how to work them into our business/life plans. In her CreativeLive class Confront Your Challenges, master photography Sue Bryce explained that challenges, though frightful and difficult, are often the one of the biggest sources of answers.

“I feel like the biggest hurdle we all have…is always ourselves. Getting out of our own way,” she explains.

The challenge often lies, Sue says, in uprooting any plans you’ve already laid down, in favor of those which could lead to the thing that may actually be your best career. If you’ve already invested your time and effort going down one path, it might be easiest to ignore the signs that it’s not for you.

To highlight this fact, Sue told the story of her one-time photography assistant Jamie Stephenson, who is the founder of The Juice Standard, a juice bar in Las Vegas. Jamie, said Sue, always thought she wanted to be a photographer, and had invested in her own photography business. But it was health and wellness that she was truly gifted in, and, says Sue, she was afraid to make that change.

“We were traveling together, and she wanted to start a business, but she had no product, no price list, and no website. So I said to her, ‘you’re not starting a business. You keep telling me you’re starting it, but you’re not doing it.’ What she was doing was helping me with my nutrition,” says Sue, who saw Jamie’s drive and motivation, but also saw that it was misplaced in photography. “I said to her that week, ‘you’re not supposed to be a photographer. You’re supposed to be a juicer.'”

“If you align a photography business with a juice business, it’s actually not that different,” she noted.

Just a year after Sue encouraged Jamie to stop hiding from challenges — and her fears that maybe photography wasn’t the right realm for her to invest her time and energy any longer — she had traveled the world, learned more about health and nutrition, and finally started her now very-successful business.

“Sometimes we’re close to doing what we want, but we only see one avenue…You know what it is, you just haven’t found it yet. You’re already doing it. You just have to find a way to get paid to do it. Don’t tell me you don’t know what you want if you haven’t even asked yourself that question yet.”

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Hanna Brooks Olsen is a writer and editor for CreativeLive, longtime reporter, and the co-founder of Seattlish. Follow her on Twitter at @mshannabrooks or go to her website for more stuff.