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A Real Story Of Struggle From Bankruptcy To Travel Photography

A Real Story Of Struggle From Bankruptcy To Travel Photography

“There is no elevator to success, you have to take the stairs.” – Zig Ziglar

Ben had never quite fitted into the ‘traditional’ idea of the way we should live our lives; the white picket fence, 2.4 children and a mortgage, however, somehow this was exactly where he found himself. Trapped in an existence he wasn’t content with and in lot of debt from his previous startup falling through. It wasn’t until it all began to unravel that he had to take a proper look at his life and work out if all he was doing was surviving, not actually living.

Ben was a candidate I dealt with, who I knew had more aspirations and skills than he could ever have dreamed of. In short, this wasn’t the life for him and that was plainly obvious over the course of the time I knew him. He wasn’t the type of person who would ever have been content with your standard ‘adult’ life, he wanted to see the world, explore and use his creativity for the good of those around him.

He had a strong imagination and could instantly bring photographs to life and you could tell that this was something he loved doing. He also enjoyed helping and making a difference to the life of other people and these were two things that could go hand in hand together.

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That was Ben’s story and there is more about it. If you find yourself with the same attitude and believe me, more people do than you could ever imagine or would ever admit to, you may want to explore some of these steps to achieving your goals and ultimately, create the life you desire.

Many people spend their whole life dreaming about settling down and taking out a mortgage. It’s what society in general aspires to and the way you know you’ve “made it” in life. However, what if you get the mortgage and the white picket fence and realise it isn’t what you wanted after all? The way people think is slowly changing and as a career advisor, I had an experience with a candidate who ended up bankrupt through their desire to have all of these possessions, yet they were never truly happy.

When they told me they were giving it all up to become a travel photographer, I couldn’t have been happier for them. I felt, from getting to know them that this would be the kind of life they would have loved. It wasn’t an easy journey by any stretch of the imagination. The need to file for bankruptcy and, of course, the courage of letting go of their life and possessions to go into a new world was completely unknown and in many ways, very scary.

The point to remember is, if you want to do something, you should go for it. It doesn’t matter what everyone else is doing or what everyone else thinks is the right way to live your life. You should always follow your own desires and dreams and do what makes you happy. After all, it is your journey and no one else’s.

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“We travel not to escape life but for life not to escape us.” – Anonymous

If you do like the idea of becoming an independent traveller, these are some of the steps you might want to take in order to reach your goal.

1. Make the Decision

The most important step and possibly the most difficult, is to actually make the decision to change your life and become an independent traveller. If this is something you aspire to, then the sooner you make that decision, the quicker you can start to put your plans into action. My candidate had her epiphany after travelling around India, sitting on a boat on the river Ganges at dusk. But your photography epiphany could begin anywhere at any place, you just need to feel it and make a decisive plan to work on it.

2. Saving Money

In the case above, the candidate I was dealing with was made bankrupt, so they had no debt to pay off. If you find yourself in a similar position, it might be worth taking this step too. If you want to travel, this will give you the financial freedom to do so and will allow you to start saving straight away. The benefit of this kind of lifestyle is that you won’t need credit for mortgages, loans or anything like that. You will be completely free and this can be such an amazing and freeing feeling: no longer having to find the money to make ends meet but instead, having the freedom to save money and embark on an exciting journey.

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3. Which Job?

There are far more options available now for those who want to work independently and travel, whether it is photography or another line of work, it’s important to plan out what you are going to do. In photography, when moving into a freelance position even as a travel photographer, it’s important to focus on a niche. My candidate focused on South East Asian travel photography and now she has popular travel publications calling her up for assignments whenever they want to focus on a country in this region.

4. Plan Your Route

Just as you want to focus on a niche make sure you choose an area you are particularly fond of – or intrigued by! You will need to decide on where you actually want to go first and what route you will take. The world is your oyster, so you have many options to choose from. This can be an exciting prospect of it’s the own, the chance to just say, “I’m going here” and to start on a journey which could lead to anywhere.

5. Finding Work

There is, of course, the aspect of finding freelance work when you get to your chosen destination. No one said the journey would be easy, so you will need to be prepared to break doors down to find work and to work really hard. It might be a good idea to try some freelance websites prior to arriving and find out if there is any work you can do offline. In the case of a travelling photographer, you may want to phone up companies in the local area and let them know when you will be arriving.

Social media can also be a great way to let potential customers know where you are and what you can do for them. In the case of my candidate it was apparent that with her little money she needed to find frugal measures to become acknowledged, she entered travel photo competitions and approached image libraries to host her images. This opened new doors for work at low expense.

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6. Making the Break

Although this choice of lifestyle comes with its share of advantages, it can also be a difficult choice to make. You will not only need to get rid of all of your possessions, but also saying goodbye to your friends and family can be a very difficult part of it. No one said it would be easy, but if it makes you happy, then it is worth jumping over the difficult hurdles. For more inspiration, take a look at this article and when all is said and done no one is in charge of your own happiness but you.

Featured photo credit: Chris Hunkeler via flickr.com

More by this author

Joe Flanagan

Outplacement Specialist

Dealing With a Sudden Job Loss 7 Things You Need To Do The Moment You Lose Your Job Preparing for a Careers Fair 6 Quick Ways to Prepare For Your First Career Fair A Real Story Of Struggle From Bankruptcy To Travel Photography

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Last Updated on March 29, 2021

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

When I left university I took a job immediately, I had been lucky as I had spent a year earning almost nothing as an intern so I was offered a role. On my first day I found that I had not been allocated a desk, there was no one to greet me so I was left for some hours ignored. I happened to snipe about this to another employee at the coffee machine two things happened. The first was that the person I had complained to was my new manager’s wife, and the second was, in his own words, ‘that he would come down on me like a ton of bricks if I crossed him…’

What a great start to a job! I had moved to a new city, and had been at work for less than a morning when I had my first run in with the first style of bad manager. I didn’t stay long enough to find out what Mr Agressive would do next. Bad managers are a major issue. Research from Approved Index shows that more than four in ten employees (42%) state that they have previously quit a job because of a bad manager.

The Dream Type Of Manager

My best manager was a total opposite. A man who had been the head of the UK tax system and was working his retirement running a company I was a very junior and green employee for. I made a stupid mistake, one which cost a lot of time and money and I felt I was going to be sacked without doubt.

I was nervous, beating myself up about what I had done, what would happen. At the end of the day I was called to his office, he had made me wait and I had spent that day talking to other employees, trying to understand where I had gone wrong. It had been a simple mistyped line of code which sent a massive print job out totally wrong. I learn how I should have done it and I fretted.

My boss asked me to step into his office, he asked me to sit down. “Do you know what you did?” I babbled, yes, I had been stupid, I had not double-checked or asked for advice when I was doing something I had not really understood. It was totally my fault. He paused. “Will you do that again?” Of course I told him I would not, I would always double check, ask for help and not try to be so clever when I was not!

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“Okay…”

That was it. I paused and asked, should I clear my desk. He smiled. “You have learnt a valuable lesson, I can be sure that you will never make a mistake like that again. Why would I want to get rid of an employee who knows that?”

I stayed with that company for many years, the way I was treated was a real object lesson in good management. Sadly, far too many poor managers exist out there.

The Complete Catalogue of Bad Managers

The Bully

My first boss fitted into the classic bully class. This is so often the ‘old school’ management by power style. I encountered this style again in the retail sector where one manager felt the only way to get the best from staff was to bawl and yell.

However, like so many bullies you will often find that this can be someone who either knows no better or is under stress and they are themselves running scared of the situation they have found themselves in.

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The Invisible Boss

This can either present itself as management from afar (usually the golf course or ‘important meetings) or just a boss who is too busy being important to deal with their staff.

It can feel refreshing as you will often have almost total freedom with your manager taking little or no interest in your activities, however you will soon find that you also lack the support that a good manager will provide. Without direction you may feel you are doing well just to find that you are not delivering against expectations you were not told about and suddenly it is all your fault.

The Micro Manager

The frustration of having a manager who feels the need to be involved in everything you do. The polar opposite to the Invisible Boss you will feel that there is no trust in your work as they will want to meddle in everything you do.

Dealing with the micro-manager can be difficult. Often their management style comes from their own insecurity. You can try confronting them, tell them that you can do your job however in many cases this will not succeed and can in fact make things worse.

The Over Promoted Boss

The Over promoted boss categorises someone who has no idea. They have found themselves in a management position through service, family or some corporate mystery. They are people who are not only highly unqualified to be managers they will generally be unable to do even your job.

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You can find yourself persistently frustrated by the situation you are in, however it can seem impossible to get out without handing over your resignation.

The Credit Stealer

The credit stealer is the boss who will never publically acknowledge the work you do. You will put in the extra hours working on a project and you know that, in the ‘big meeting’ it will be your credit stealing boss who will take all of the credit!

Again it is demoralising, you see all of the credit for your labour being stolen and this can often lead to good employees looking for new careers.

3 Essential Ways to Work (Cope) with Bad Managers

Whatever type of bad boss you have there are certain things that you can do to ensure that you get the recognition and protection you require to not only remain sane but to also build your career.

1. Keep evidence

Whether it is incidents with the bully or examples of projects you have completed with the credit stealer you will always be well served to keep notes and supporting evidence for projects you are working on.

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Buy your own notebook and ensure that you are always making notes, it becomes a habit and a very useful one as you have a constant reminder as well as somewhere to explore ideas.

Importantly, if you do have to go to HR or stand-up for yourself you will have clear records! Also, don’t always trust that corporate servers or emails will always be available or not tampered with. Keep your own content.

2. Hold regular meetings

Ensure that you make time for regular meetings with your boss. This is especially useful for the over-promoted or the invisible boss to allow you to ‘manage upwards’. Take charge where you can to set your objectives and use these meetings to set clear objectives and document the status of your work.

3. Stand your ground, but be ready to jump…

Remember that you don’t have to put up with poor management. If you have issues you should face them with your boss, maybe they do not know that they are coming across in a bad way.

However, be ready to recognise if the situation is not going to change. If that is the case, keep your head down and get working on polishing your CV! If it isn’t working, there will be something better out there for you!

Good luck!

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