2015: Realistic Goals ~ Readjusting + Reprioritizing

Each year at this time James and I go out to dinner and take time to each write down our separate goals for the business and our personal lives, then compare notes. We have done this the past couple of years and it really helps us to open up a discussion on where we feel we can improve our business for the future, and things we’d like to strive for as a couple.

This year it was funny, because we did our personal goals first and honestly – after we wrote our personal goals, it felt kind of silly to write some of the typical things you would think of as “business goals.” You know… ‘Book __ Weddings”… “Shoot ___ sessions” … “Gain ___ more Instagram followers”

I don’t know – but for me – stuff like that feels so pointless if we aren’t doing something greater with it. With our business, our main goal really is just to take the best photos possible to preserve our clients’ memories, as well as treat them like gold throughout the process – letting them know that we will take care of them and they can rest easy knowing they are working with us! We just want them to have the best experience possible, and as a side from that – we hope to be able to pay our bills and contribute to causes that matter to us by running this business that we love. So, all of the numbers, goals, and odds and ends seem kind of silly to me for some reason this year?! I know we need things to strive for and goals in mind… but really – all I can think about it:

1. Be Happy.

2. Pay it Forward.

3. Run a business we are proud of.

4. Treat people well & be kind.




Honestly – I feel like I could leave it at that – and we’re good to go. haha. But I know that isn’t really how it works – and so we continue to create goals so that we can continue to reach our life goals (listed above) for years and years to come (we hope)!

So… here we go! Our 2015 Goals (as determined over tapas and sangria)!! I’m going to start with our Personal Goals first because it seems in years past I’ve done much better checking Business Goals off the list, because we have always tended to put our business ahead of our personal lives, which I’ve come to realize is really not the way to live at all. So this year I hope to readjust my mentality and re-prioritize our personal lives this year.



  1. Get pregnant via our IVF treatments this spring. || OR || If our IVF cycles don’t work by the end of June, we will start the adoption process and complete all necessary paper work so we are in the adoption pool at The Cradle by the end of 2015. We have had “start a family” on our list for way too many years (5 years, to be exact) – and this year we will do all we can to make this a reality… God willing & fingers crossed.
  2. Buy a house. This one is very scary to write down and/or say out loud – but if you don’t write it down and strive towards it – you will never get there! We know financing will be a big hurdle given we are 100% self employed (or so I’ve heard), but I know we are up for the challenge!
  3. Put $______ more in savings. Last year we aimed way too low for our savings goal and thankfully outdid it by 3x what we thought we could save – so this year we hope to continue that trend and continue to prepare for our future.
  4. Have one date night a month where we try new things in the city, or activities (rather than just always defaulting to dinner out). I think we were pretty good about date nights last year, but they pretty much always consisted of dinner out and that was it (other than our summer bucket list!), so we’re looking to stretch this more this year!
  5. Get life insurance. I started the application (finally) – and now just need to get through the 20 pages of medical history before I can submit it. Is anyone else out there terrible at keeping track of this stuff?! I don’t know the name, let alone phone number of every doctor I’ve ever seen or who treated me … I’m sorry!
  6. Design & print our own wedding album. Okay okay… I realize this has been on the list FOR YEARS – but I’m serious about it this time!! We recovered the hard drive that had our wedding photos on it (don’t ask… it turns out we take way better precautions for our clients than we do for our own photos), and I’m going to do this before our 6th anniversary!
  7. Start saving for retirement & learn more about investing. I have a 401k from my old job that I desperately need to roll over into an IRA. This. Is. Going. To. Happen! Also, I bought the book, “MONEY Master the Game: 7 Simple Steps to Financial Freedom” on Audible.com and I’m excited to learn more about all of this!
  8. Hold hands more, be kind to one another, and more intimate (less on devices)… i.e. cuddle on the couch, hold hands, etc. It can feel like we are miles apart if we are on the couch together but each in our own worlds on our devices… which takes me to #9:
  9. Screen-free evenings from 7-10pm (unless previously agreed upon)… no laptops, phones, or iPads. We are serious about this this year. We realize screen-free in bed apparently isn’t really an option since we both read articles and books on our devices before bed, but screen-free for a few hours while we have dinner and spend time together every night?? YES.
  10. Make more time for friends (i.e. photography free friend time at least once a month). We did a very good job of making time for family in 2014, and we plan to continue that in 2015, and also add our friends to that goal! I tend to be a bit of a hermit and just work work work from home with Chloe, and so we decided that I especially need more regular social interactions outside of work and networking.
  11. Separate myself from my business. As all small business owners and entrepreneurs know – you really throw your whole self into growing your business. It is personal to you. It is your baby. It is your life. However, all too often I equate my business’ ups and downs with my own ups and downs. I need to remember that I am a separate individual from my business and this year hope to expand my activities outside of just working (as listed above), but also to remember that my happiness is not determined by the business’ success, and that tough situations within the business don’t have to carry over into my personal life. All too often last year when things were difficult with the business or with clients I let the stress of that spiral into really bad anxiety attacks that affected my relationships, my health, and my marriage. This year I hope to let things roll off my shoulders better and remember that I am separate from our business. I need to relieve some of my pressure on myself to be perfect all the time, and remember I can only do my very best for people – beyond that I need to learn to let things go.
  12. Christy: Walk 60 miles a month with Chloe / Lift weights 3x a week / Stretch daily / Quit my gym membership (since I never use it!)
  13. James: Finish Associates Degree and enroll in a 4-year college to complete degree / Learn Spanish



  1. Cap out at 25 big weddings. We have 21 booked right now and look forward to adding a few more fabulous couples to our 2015 calendar, and then plan to leave some space open for more elopements, intimate weddings, and commercial shoots!
  2. Get the Beautiful Website up and running, including a product page for clients. For real. This is happening this off season now that I have a full portfolio of Beautiful on Film!
  3. Bring James to more engagement sessions. Usually I shoot e-sessions by myself, and this year we hope to bring James for more so he can get more work with posing (see below).
  4. Get James more comfortable with directing and posing. James is the king of the candids. His photos are some of our clients’ favorites – but we’d love to stretch his legs even more into directing clients when necessary and posing when needed!
  5. Teach James how to shoot details. I am definitely more of the details girl, and we like it that way… but there are weddings where it would be helpful for James to be not only comfortable shooting beautiful detail images, but confident doing it as well! So we hope to work on that this year!
  6. Book 4 commercial shoots this year. We loved the work we got to do with Renaissance Learning last year and really hope to continue filling our calendar with a handful of these types of shoots each year!
  7. Hone in on guys’ prep photos and get more consistent results that compliment the girls’ prep pics. A lot of this comes with properly communicating to clients about what to anticipate from this part of the day, and encouraging they book a location that is complimentary to making beautiful images (lots of natural window light and space for James to move around), just like they are doing for the ladies prep photos! Often people kind of overlook the guy’s prep location and James ends up crammed in a tiny windowless room with 10 guys, which just isn’t conducive to getting the best images for our clients. It’s all about educating people and we realize that – so we hope to work on this specific part of the day this year!
  8. Shoot 20 Beautiful Sessions this year and find a way to give back via these sessions. I hope to launch this officially this year and also partner with an organization we believe in that is in line with the values of these sessions, whether helping domestic abuse victims, or women recovering from eating disorders… I’m working on figuring out what this is, but look forward to getting even more purpose and women’s empowerment behind this side of our business.
  9. Re-Evaluate our Pricing / Update Album Pricing. We haven’t increased our prices in over a year, so we are looking to figure out if we are in our sweet spot, or need to update, especially in terms of albums (which our supplier has raised rates on a couple times since we set our prices – so that definitely needs to be reviewed so we ensure we aren’t losing money there).
  10. Start outsourcing all shoots. We have been working with Fotofafa for our wedding for the past two years now and it has been an amazing relief and increased our quality of life ten fold! Last year I found myself getting behind on other sessions and this year may look into outsourcing those as well to better serve our clients and keep up with the turnaround time we strive for.
  11. Attend a workshop more geared towards business / finances / and get educated on possibly adding Associate Photographers or assistants. I really want our business to grow its own legs this year. As we look to start a family – I would love to incorporate more people in our business eventually so we aren’t bogged down and don’t need our hands on all aspects of it. I feel like I’m at a point where “I don’t know what I don’t know” and want to change that! I’d love to find a great workshop for this – so if anyone has any suggestions – I’d love to hear!




So there you have it!! This year I plan to break these goals down into sections so I can more easily make sure to tackle these things this year and not just let them fall by the wayside when things get busy!! To help with that I’ll be separating them into 3 portions of the year (the same way I handle our budget!)… Jan-April, May-August, September-December… and then separate into months and weeks from there. That way I’m giving myself set deadlines, just like I do with our clients’ images! So – here’s what I plan to tackle first:


  • Get Life Insurance
  • Design and Print our own Wedding Album
  • James work on learning Spanish 3x a week.
  • Christy implement more walks/stretching/weights
  • Start screen-free nights & brainstorm date night ideas for this year.
  • Book 4 more weddings to meet our max.
  • Get Beautiful Website up and running / launched.
  • Update our workshop curriculum and print-outs. (Not listed above – but on my to-do list!)
  • Print personal photo books from our 2014 trips and Instagrams.
  • Quit the gym! (Christy)
  • Plan and throw our 3rd annual client party!
  • Sign up for acupuncture to start before & through our IVF cycle in April.
  • Start working on detail shots with James.


Alright 2015… let’s do this!!! What are some of your big goals for 2015? I’d love some more inspiration from you all!! XOXO

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Christy & James are Chicago based but happily travel anywhere in the world that beautiful love stories take them!