Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The power of Visualization

As I sit here writing this blog post, I look around the room and am amazed at all the events that conspired to bring me to this point.

We have a two bedroom flat in Bandra, a nice(r) green(er) suburb in the chaotic, nightmarishly surreal dreamscape of Mumbai, a city lost in the throes of vibrant decay.... outside the window, passing underneath are rickshaw wallas, fruit sellers, vegetable hawkers, newspaper wallas and strange brightly dressed dudes that whip themselves.

I am writing estimates and concept notes for jobs that will most likely pay me more in three weeks of work than I made in a year in Vancouver. One is a 12 page fashion editorial for GQ that will shoot somewhere in North India. The other two are for large advertising companies here in the Big City.

I'm listening to music, drinking coffee and feeling a great deal of gratitude for my health, the health and happiness of the people I love most and of course, for the opportunities that seem so abundant.

I grew up with the idea that to become wealthy you really had to struggle, to work hard, late nights, work so hard that in fact all you had time to do was save money and then once you had it you had to do everything to keep it....that was how you created wealth and abundance.

I've come to realize that that attitude, and its an attitude shared by many people, is incorrect.

I don't think I've ever worked hard a single day of my photographic life. Every time I pick up my camera and realize that someone's paying me to do this, I'm filled with an awesome feeling of gratitude (and sometimes disbelief). 'Disbelief' because there are still remnants of that old way of thinking within my consciousness...that unless you're 'struggling' or 'nose to the grindstone' you're not really doing anything productive.

Now let me clarify...i say i don't believe in 'hard work' but here's what I do believe in: Excellence in the pursuit of one's craft, sustained perseverance in attaining your goals, clear vision, patience, consummate professionalism, ethical business practices, acknowledgement of one's limitations and then seeking a way to move beyond those limitations...which actually, if you don't love what you do...seems like a lot of hard work.

As I look back on my life, specifically photography, there were many moments of hardship and I know there will be many more to come. This is not a stable profession but what its forced me to do is develop an attitude of optimism, gratitude and equanimity.

Granted, I can get down when things seem impossible, but one of the key tenants of the Yogic philosophy to which I prescribe is: This too Shall Pass. Everything is impermanent and in a constant state of flux, its important not to become too attached to any one emotional state.

One of the ways to help you move through these fluctuations is to keep you goals firmly in mind.

Visualization is a key ingredient for success in any endeavor but due to the unstable nature of a photography career, its importance is heightened. It may sound like a total cliche, but you need to know exactly what you want. I call it "Paint dry visualization" Here's why:

You can think "In five years I see myself owning a house," or you can say
"In five years I see myself owning a house; its on a lake, the water on the lake is shimmering in the moonlight, I see myself standing in the house, the kitchen has heated slate flooring, a Sub Zero fridge and I'm making popcorn on a six burner stove...we just painted the walls a light tan brown and I can smell the paint dry."

The same is true for manifesting a thriving photography business.

Before I made this insane move to Bombay I sat down with myself and had a very honest heart to heart. If I was going to give up my comfortable apartment, sell my equipment, ask my fiance to move to one of the worlds most crowded and difficult cities; I had better be damn clear about what I wanted out of it.

I made a very clear picture in my mind; the magazines and agencies I would be working for, the amount of money i would be asking and the quality of life we would aspire to. I visualized large ad campaigns, magazine spreads and self funded photo documentary projects. I saw myself on set, working with models and art directors. I visualized and felt myself here already with opportunity and gratitude filling my being. I pictured myself in a flow.

We all want to be in the flow, that point in our lives where everything seems to happen with effortless ease. Being in the flow refers to a state of being where present actions and attitudes are in perfect sync with our visualizations and goals for the future. Its a state of coincidence and synchronicity brought on by creative and affirmative visualization.

So, the crux of this blog post is this: Wealth and abundance are not functions of 'hard work' but rather of Mindset. Change your Mind about your life and your life naturally follows. After thinking a certain way for a long time its hard to shift but here's a couple of things you can do:

1. Before you go to bed, write down 3 things you're grateful for.
2. Write down 3 'impossible' goals, no matter how far out they seem.
3. Write down 3 things that are on your mind that you would like to resolve immediately.
4. Take a few minutes and meditate on one of your goals, visualize that goal with crystal clear clarity. Picture these goals as already attained. Smell the paint dry.

There's a certain organizing power that happens when you get your thoughts down on paper; its like the first step in manifestation. Practice this consistently and you'll start see old negative thought patterns loosen the grip, eventually being replaced by increasingly affirmative ones.

Since I am a student of this myself and not a master, it takes me great vigilance and attention to stay positive but the reward is tangible: forward motion towards the life I want to be living; full of happiness, wonder and abundance.

we deserve no less than that.


Unknown said...

Beautifully said as always.

Carelle said...

The power is within you and I'm glad you found the path Martin.
Love the way you write,

ahbphotography said...

As a young photographer just starting out in his career, I am daunted with loads of negative thoughts and constant worries. However after reading this, I feel instantly 'better' Great stuff.

manasparekh said...

Thanks, Martin! Just what i need to hear!

Chad Zellner said...

Virtual high 5's for Martin!

Unknown said...

Well said!

nik west said...

Very interesting reading your blog. It makes me wonder what you read or if you discover these insights as you go. My wife is a life coach and you speak the same language! I also need to continually work on my thoughts. All the best, nik west.

Unknown said...

I'm thankful that my photography instructor posted this on his fb page. Beautiful and inspiring. Thank you.

Unknown said...

I am thankful my photography instructor posted this on his fb page. Beautiful and inspiring. Thank you.

chinoy said...

The way I look at it. If you love what you do. Or do what you love. You have just freed yourself from ever having to work another day in your life.
The problem with chasing wealth and money is there is no start and no fish. No matter what you tell your self.

Siddharth Sirohi said...

Truly inspirational. Currently going through the roller-coaster of being professional photographer i could relate to it so much.
If you ever land up in Delhi and are free please take some time out to meet. Would be a great to listen to your experience of India.

TripleScoop said...

Martin thank you for sharing this with the world. I for one will take this to hart and begin to incorporate it into my life and work. I love the positive attitude!

Lloyd said...

Thanks for the inspiring post - much appreciated!

Cireg said...

Thank you, Martin. Very clear, very comprehensible, specially the four steps. I go to India for over 30 years now, it is incredible ! Have fun and stay sane ! Regards Eric

Phil Steele Photography said...

Martin, I'm sharing this post with everyone I know. Thanks for the inspiration!

Oliver Rathonyi-Reusz said...

I found this post at just the right time. I think these are things that many of us know intrinsically, but it helps to see them expressed clearly. Looking forward to following your blog.

elise said...

You must be in the groove, because I needed to hear this. Many, many thanks and blessings on your journey.

Anonymous said...

Very beautiful words and attractive philosophical musings. We can all be great if we just visualize ourselves and work towards that.

What a load! I'm sorry but I deal with lotsa smart, creative and educated people who are buried under real problems and obligations. I also deal with people who work hard and are smart, but because of circumstances beyond their control -bad economy, not suited to their career choice, bad upbringing, sick kids, not getting the right break, debt, mental & physical health issues, a lack of educational opportunities, improper socialization, etc. - just don't get ahead. Are these people then to blame for their conditions? Are they suddenly bad people?

Yes, it is very important to visualize and have a plan. But many opportunities are shut off to people because of class and environment they have no control over. And implying somehow they have total control just makes them feel worse. I am not being pessimistic here, but rather very, very cynical. We need to be able to see the difference between luck and skill and find ways as a society to offer everyone a break. We need to know what's our fault and not. We need to see what we can and can't change and to recognize the difference between the two.

*I'm going anonymous because I fully expect to be flamed. See cynical.

Unknown said...

Excellent Martin! I find it so easy to spiral into a negative mindset and have cynicism take over my attitude. Unlike the previous anonymous poster, I do believe we create our own reality, certainly people have bad luck, but there is so much opportunity, either here in Canada or abroad as you have chosen. Excellent site, I am believer and thanks for giving me a whack on the forehead!

JT said...

I love the idea of waking up and moving to India. I also had that dream, and carried it for many years. While I was able to travel to India several times, my home only ever got as far east as Japan. But India... what an inspiration, every moment. You're a lucky man.

ediheld said...

great stuff, very inspiring :)

Moshe said...

I love this post, mostly because it's not about photography. I am working in the corporate world (photography is a hobby), and most times can perform 100% in 20% of time.
Plus, I really love India.


Harold said...

Wow man that's the most inspiring and at the same time true insight that you shared with everyone. You really are one of a kind not only because of your gift of photography but more so because of the way you live day by day. It takes a very happy and balanced person to live according to inner peace while at the same time make wealth with what you like to do. Thanks once again I thoroughly enjoyed this post

trinifaus said...

Found your blog via Strobist. The saying, "it only takes a spark to get a fire burning" is so true. I've been having a very difficult time absorbing the idea of being what i was called to do (photograher)and having read your post it dawned on my that i have not been filling my mind with constant positive thoughts like i once use to so well. Thanks Martin for the 'spark'!

madmanscam said...

Thanks for the inspiration Martin ! I have been shooting from the last 5 years and needed an energizer. This really helped.

Also, I was looking for a guru with whom I could learn better photography. Please let me know if you are looking for an assistant at any time in Mumbai. I am based in Bangalore and can move to Mumbai to learn from you. Please advise.

Arvind Shenoy 91-98864-96327