We had the good fortune of connecting with Sarah Goff and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Sarah, how has your work-life balance changed over time?
When I began my journey as a creative entrepreneur eleven years ago, I was completely enamored by the idea of being self-made and making money without having to go to a job every morning. I had discovered a passion and talent for graphic design, specifically wedding stationery design and while I was working a full time job, I had rose-colored glasses on that made the entrepreneur idea seem like heaven. After quitting my full time job and focusing on my design business for five years, I began to realize that being self-employed is equally amazing and challenging. There were huge boundaries that I needed to set in place to keep myself sane and reduce stress. In the meantime, I had also discovered my love for photography. Again, I whipped on those rose-colored glasses for photography and couldn’t see anything else for several years. All I wanted to do was photograph beautiful couples in beautiful places. This zeal, mixed with my perfectionist personality, was a recipe for stress and burn-out. It’s taken some time, but I am now realizing how important work life balance truly is. The strange thing about work life balance is that it looks different for everyone. For me, it is communication, diving into hobbies, consciously allowing myself to step away, and knowing my worth. In my household, communication is key. Communicating with my husband about schedules and learning to say NO to client bookings that fall on certain dates has helped us keep a balance between making money and enjoying each other. He has a full-time career as a middle school music teacher, but also assists me at weddings and portrait sessions, so scheduling clients in a sustainable way is huge for us. After more than ten years as a self-employed individual, I’ve found that I lack in the “hobby” category of life. My passions become my livelihood and I focus all my energy and creativity to those things, leaving no room for other enjoyable activities. This year, I am focusing energy into hobbies that aren’t for bringing in money. Taking a weekday hike, going for a walk or run, exploring new local food trucks, or just enjoying an evening hot bath are things that keep me out of the office mentally. I’ve heard many people use the advice: “set office hours and don’t work beyond those hours.” Yeah, been there. Done that. It didn’t work. For me, setting myself “office hours” or work hours simply didn’t stick. I find myself checking email at 9pm or worse, replying to those emails! I realized that on a daily basis, I simply need to allow myself to step away. I’m constantly telling myself, “Let today be enough”. Let all the work and tasks and chores completed today be enough. Lastly, money. We all hate talking about it, but really it’s the key to work life balance. For me, the struggle is real, as I am a very money-motivated person. Learning to create a healthy home and bring in more work life balance (aka turning down clients, going out on dates, etc) inherently means less money “in the bank”. Instead of booking 28 weddings for the year, I would much prefer to book 22-25. That means thousands less in revenue for that year. Learning and accepting your worth is the way to combat the perceived loss of income. Instead of seeing less weddings as less income, I simply price myself in such a manner that I don’t see a loss of revenue. Work smarter, not harder. Pricing myself according to my life goals has opened many doors and allowed me to continue on the path of better work life balance.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
As a Colorado wedding photographer, my passion to tell a couple’s love story in a dynamic and meaningful manner is paralleled by my love for the beauty of our state. When I meet a new couple and we begin talking about their lives and hopes and wedding day dreams, my own creativity begins flowing. I believe that fairytale love stories do exist and that every one of those is worth shouting from the rooftops! I’m excited to provide couples with crisp, timeless images of their engagement, wedding, and beyond. Being a wedding photographer doesn’t come without challenges. One of my continued struggles is work life balance and my own perfectionist personality. I simply didn’t do enough (in my head!). To a fault, I go above and beyond for my couples and am learning slowly that I can provide stellar service AND maintain a sustainable mental state. Understanding that I cannot control every situation in my business and my personal life is truly a daily challenge!
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Are we talking the Denver area? Or where I live (Berthoud)? If Denver, here’s are a few things I would do! Take a tour of Stranahan’s Distillery, head out to Golden to take a Coor’s Tour and explore Golden (breweries, walk Clear Creek Park, go up Lookout Mtn), drive up I-70 to Mt Evans and come back into Idaho Springs to enjoy the original BoJeau’s Pizza, come back into Denver and hit up a Rockies baseball game, spend an afternoon exploring the Denver Botanic Gardens and / or Denver Zoo, enjoy the Denver skyline from City Park, walk 16th St Mall, and find local food trucks. If Berthoud area: Spend an afternoon at Blue Mountain Vineyards and enjoy a bottle of wine and walking the gardens, hike around Carter Lake or go up to Estes / RMNP, check out White Paper BBQ or Voodoo Cajun food truck and grab beers at Berthoud Brewing Co, shop the local shops in downtown Berthoud (Wishful Living, etc), and enjoy sunshine in the backyard!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Oh goodness yes. Over the past few years as a wedding photographer, I’ve had the pleasure of having Christina Gonzales (McGonzo Photo) as my primary second shooter. She is an amazing newborn photographer and has brought her energy and rockstar dance moves to my business and couples! I wouldn’t be where I am without my husband, Brian. Honestly, he’s my biggest supporter. He has always pushed me “out of the nest” to grow wings and fly. He’s also my emotional rock and foundation in the moments of anxiety that I feel often.
Sarah Goff Photography