11 years. That’s how long I worked at the hospital and it took a lot of convincing to get me to leave a stable job working with people I loved. I’m the kind of girl that needs to know (somewhat) of what lies ahead and I needed to be able to check all the boxes before making such a huge life-changing decision. So here are the key things I did to make the leap.
Communication is key in marriage and when I was unhappy with my day job, my husband was the first to know it. Actually, he knew it before me. Anywho, I expressed to him that working in healthcare and doing photography on the side was wearing me out, big time. The time I was missing with my family was what broke the straw on the camels back and ultimately led me to my decision to leave my job at the hospital. Luckily, my husband has been my rock from the very beginning of this photography journey and has always told me that the only way to succeed is to go all in. He kept telling me that you never know your full potential when you have one foot in and one foot out. So when I told him I was leaving my job at the hospital, all he could say was “Finally.”
Obviously, this is muy importante. I am one of those financial freaks that listens to the Dave Ramsey podcast regularly and checks the banking account every morning just to see that nothing has changed from the night before. Thinking of not having a stable paycheck every two weeks terrified me to pieces! So what did we do? Well, I did a little experiment while I was still at the hospital.
For a few months, we lived as if we were only getting one form of income for our family. We found that if we kept things minimal, Caleb’s income was enough for our monthly bills and everything that I made was put aside towards savings for future possible thunderstorms. Honestly, it is amazing to see how creative you can get when you actually pay attention to your finances!
Holy crap guys, this right here. I was dreaaaaddding this talk. I mean, I was sweating and clenching my butt cheeks at just the thought of me spilling the news to my parents. Because uhm, HELLO. It’s spilling the beans to my Filipino parents that I’m about to leave this career in healthcare where I have a stable check, benefits and a 401k to basically having none of that. So how did I tell them?
I showed up to their kitchen with an excel sheet with our finances and explained Caleb and I’s income for the next year. I could tell they were halfway listening, so I hit them with a curveball and showed them my resignation letter and said,
“May 4th will be my last day at the hospital.”
(silence). I got the wide-eye stare and heard, “ARE YOU SERIOUS?” my mom said. Yeah, I got their attention.
Of course, they voiced their concerns about income and insurance, but I reassured them that I’ve drawn out every situation and everything will be okay. All I needed from them was their support. In the end, it wasn’t as scary of a conversation as I thought. My dad’s final statement in a Filipino accent was, “if you’re not doing something you’re passionate about, you’re not going to last. So yes, we support you.”
Having a stable job while trying to grow a side hustle was a huge convenience to getting things started. I was able to fund all my equipment without taking loans or using credit cards.
And if you didn’t know, camera equipment is not cheap. A good quality camera body and lenses range up to the thousands. For example, one of my favorite wedding reception lenses costs $1600! That’s just for one lens!
On top of that, website, web storage, editing software, insurance, & business licensing expenses.
*FYI: If you ever wonder why photogs charge what they do, this is one of the reasons.
This dream of being a full-time photographer was one that sat on the backseat for a long long time. I would look in the rearview mirror, look at the dream and turn away because of fear. Fear of the lack of stability and the fear of failure. The questions that ran through my head were,
“What if I suck?”
“What if people don’t like my work?”
“What about insurance for my family?”
“I don’t have a degree in business, how the heck am I going to do this?”
All the questions of self-doubt ran through my mind and what I eventually did was reach out to God. Prayer after prayer, I said to him, “I know you have a plan for me. I’m not sure what it is. But I’m putting my whole heart, family, and life in your hands.”
Strangely (but is it?), I kept seeing signs. On the radio. At work. In church. For months, I listened to so many random sermons and had multiple deep conversations with people and for some reason, most of them had a message along the lines of:
“We all have a God-given gift. Use it as a way to serve.”
And after years of dreaming, I finally decided to take the leap. “Just freaking do it,” I told myself.
So here I am.
It has been a little over 8 months and I can honestly say that I haven’t had one regret since. A flexible schedule and more time with my family while pursuing a dream career? (sigh)
Cheers to chasing dreams and making them into a reality!