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The Journey Journal. Starting from Zero.

“Every journey starts with the first step.”
Every motivational blog ever.

Starting from Zero. My personal journey towards a fulfilling career.

Lately, I discovered that when you hit 30 and move to a free-spirit city like Berlin you meet a lot of like-minded people. People that are trying to create their own career path and live outside the classical idea of having a 9-5 job or living in a suburbia dreamworld. But while meeting all of these new people I discovered something else: We are all a bit afraid to leave the path that society and our parents and even our peers have shaped, have seen or have thought of being appropriate for us. It’s intimidating. There are little to no road signs. No one is leading the way. Every once in a while you hit a roadblock and need to reshape your way. In total: It is super scary.

That’s why I created this new blog category, the Journey Journal. Big changes are coming my way and I want to share my personal experience about the heights and fights of giving up your standard life. And tell you about the influences and resources to create a different life while also writing more of what doubts and negative actions prevented me to get to this point earlier. Brace yourself. Personal stuff is coming.

Why having a personal blog on my business website is important to me.

Before I dive into the world of change and being changed let me explain for a sec why I wanted to start this journal. Especially why I want it to be a personal and subjective journal and not a scientific or conservative “go-get-it”-tool. Or let’s say a “go-get-it”-resource. First of all: I love writing and I really want to fill this blog with content. And although this website is for Personal Branding Photography there is a reason why I ended up doing Personal Branding Photography.

The Journey Journal, Berlin Oberbaumbrücke
The Big City Berlin that made it possible for me to go on my personal career journey.

And the reason is: I know how difficult it is to take one’s career to a different level. The reason I am using the word “different” instead of “next” is because I don’t use the word “career” as a marker for higher, better, faster. It is used as a word to describe a path in your working life that you created and shaped with a purpose. Trying to get to a goal that you set for yourself. A goal that is not put out there for you by society or your parents. A goal you have chosen. And for me choosing my goal wasn’t easy and didn’t come overnight. I had to work pretty hard for it.

Growing by going or where the path leads you.

When I started my Personal Branding Photography division earlier this year I was pretty open-minded. I thought about it as the perfect mixture of doing beautiful lifestyle shots and business headshots in this extraordinary city. And a good way of taking my photography to the next level. With me being super open-minded I didn’t define my target group first and then set out to approach them. Instead, I went out and talked with people. About the kind of photography I wanted to do and about looking for models.

And the more I talked to people who were interested in having their pictures taken by me, I realized: Personal Branding Photography is way more for me then just shooting pictures. When I meet with a client for the first time it is almost always the same scenario. We are sitting at a coffee shop – the best place to have a relaxed talk – and my counterpart know that she wants pictures but is not quite sure how she can present herself in the best way. The majority of people I have met so far were also at a career-changing point in their life. And they all had similar doubts, thoughts and worries like me. So the talk was not just about photography. It was about “how can photography help you to get closer to your personal goal”.

The mantra of my personal journey: “What if?”

One of the biggest challenges that you encounter while changing parts of your life are all the questions that start with “what if?”. If you are ending a relationship, moving to a new city, thinking about changing your career or even with simple decisions like buying new furniture the upcoming questions are the same. And could be reduced to the constantly lingering worry of “What if I make a wrong decision?”. I’ve been there. While thinking about ending my last relationship. Which I did and it turned out the be the right decision. Before applying to a university in the big city. Which was, in general, a good decision but my choice of subjects could have been better. When I quit a full-time job for the first time. And I am not talking about taking a sabbatical but like seriously quitting without a way back. Which is exciting and frightening at the same time. But we get to that later.

A never-ending journey.

My journey started in 2009. I wasn’t even aware that my journey started back then. Or of the fact that the foundation of my life-beliefs – beliefs about how my life should be – had received serious cracks. Everything started when my idea of my perfect life and career path went down the drain with me ending my relationship. You know that at the end of every relationship you divide your belongings and both of you get your “fair” share? In my case, the perfect concept of how my life should have been before I become 30 – including a career as an executive of whatsoever, marriage and the average 2-kids-crap – ended up in his hands. For me, it meant: If not with him I don’t want to have a full-functioning relationship. Part one of what I always thought I wanted was gone.

Back to the future.

So I started focusing on work. Just to find out that a classical corporate career is neither fulfilling nor a good fit for me. There are so many things I like doing. But working 5 days a week from 6 to 22 just the be the best assistant in the world? And getting a team-lead after that? Well. Thanks no. My work-life should have a purpose and not the goal to rule people or boss them around.

So by 2013, I had realized that I didn’t want anything of what my old me had wanted back in 2008. But I was also unsure what it was that I wanted. Life seemed pretty dull. A year later after the passing of my grandfather and after getting a really bad boss, I decided it was time for me to go on a very long sabbatical. Two things I knew for sure back then: I either wanted to become a full-time photographer or journalist. And to hone my crafts I applied for History of Arts and Scandinavism. Two supposedly interesting subjects for me. Cause as a good German you don’t just take time off. You live to work. Leisure and free-time are for losers and people that don’t have skills. And so is free-lancing.

Chuck away your dogmas.

Two of my biggest obstacles in the way of finding out what I really want: Being too anxious and having a hilariously huge amount of dogmas and doctrines. Like so many and so continued and hardened, I could have given “rock solid” a new name. The problem with dogmatic thinking: Instead of seeing possibilities you only see a minimum of opportunities and you have a very small driving lane. It’s like driving on a very narrow street with very tight crash barriers. With nothing to explore and little to no exits. I hated it but on the other hand, I didn’t have the tools to change my dogmatic approach to life.

Myself in a picture with harsh light.
Blog post about starting to achieve the life you want and find your purpose in life.

Meet 2015. The year of change, more change and the beginning of an end.

2015 was hard. I was in university for a year. But although I had planned otherwise I had to travel 4 times a week for 2 1/2 hours per round. I did well on the campus radio and loved being on the radio. But I hated being constantly criticised. Then my cat died and I didn’t go to Sicily. Also, my relationship turned out to be a fraud. But still, I was missing the concept of self-efficacy. So the big Sword of Damocles’ “what if”-s was hanging over my head. After feeling super unhappy and developing the habit of panic attacks I knew something needed to be changed. I mean, I went on a Sabbatical for a reason: I wanted to become really happy. Like genuinely happy. But I was stuck in a loop. 

When nothing goes right, go left.

Breaking a vicious circle can be pretty hard. And no one should be out there trying it on their own. But on the other hand, asking for help – especially when you need to change your behavior and mal-adaptive behavioral and thinking patterns – is something people don’t like to be open about. If your sink is broken, you ask a plumber to fix it. If you spread your ankle you go and see a doctor. But if you are taking your mental health seriously and make an appointment with a shrink most people think you are a lunatic and not fit for traffic. Like something is really off with you. Trust me. If your life is in a loop and you are making the same wrong turns again and again: Go and talk to a professional.

Because choosing to live a life different from how everybody else is living it is exhausting, frightening and needs a lot of strength. Especially if you are not the rebellious type. I am trouble but I am not rebellious. So getting someone to teach me the concept of self-efficacy and also help me to smash my dogmas: That was divine. And one of the most helpful things in life.

Open doors, left and right.

I went all-in in my sessions. And now – almost two years later – it is really paying off. The dogmas I worshipped throughout my whole life are gone. Or rather: Have become flexible. I have a clearer sense of what I want. And the best part: During this last year, I started to become aware of what I want to do with my life. With the amazing help of inspiring people, useful podcasts, great internet resources and incredible insights about how and where I want to work.

And that is why I created this new category. I want to share with you the resources that helped me. To help you find your voice, your style, give you ideas on how to tweak your life and give you examples on how to think outside of the box when it comes to (your) life. And because I would love to make this blog more personal. Which is – again – scary. Because I am not going to hide behind a “look-how-powerful-and-glorious-I-am”-story. And there is a huge chance that if I ever want to apply for a corporate job again HR-guys might find this page and be appalled. But then again: You can’t please everyone. And I am probably not the right fit for them anyway. Cheerio.

Personal Journey, The Journey Journal
Glitterjackets and an instant camera. Only two things of the new-me.
After years of working in the automobile sector Anna Christina Harms decided that she should stick to would she really loves: Educating, photographing and strategizing. She is now living in Berlin and supporting freelancers and SMEs with their personal branding and social media strategy.
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