5 Lessons I Learned from the Pandemic

photography podcast



 If we went through a new pandemic or crisis tomorrow, what do we hope we’d know based on everything we’ve experienced through the coronavirus pandemic?


In this episode, I’m going to take you through my big takeaways from when I did a post-COVID “after action review.”


I first learned about this concept from Michael Hyatt. It’s basically a way to look back at a period of time to evaluate what you expected, what actually happened, the lessons you learned and how you’re going to apply those lessons to your life moving forward.  


So let’s start by quickly looking back at my plans, HA! 

In December 2019, we had big goals for 2020. Both personally and professionally. And just like to rest of the world, with the new year AND new decade coming in with a super thriving economy, I had big, giant, scary goals. Honestly, including a big goal to more than double my overall revenue from 2019.


Of course, around mid-March when things rapidly starting changing in the US and the world.. I went into a type of survival mode. I had 2 in-person retreats scheduled in California that were cancelled. We had to reschedule sessions and we missed 2 hospital births because we weren’t allowed in. Instead of focusing on growth, I had to down shift and focus on survival. I did a couple of trainings in March and April on the podcast surrounding COVID-19 and birth photography in real time, as it was in full swing.


So, what actually happened? 

  • Didn’t hit either of my Q1 or Q2 income goals. 
  • Tired a lot, felt emotionally exhausted 
  • Didn’t have the drive or determination I normally have 
  • Fell way out of my regular routine (wake up/go to bed)



What lessons have I learned looking back at the last 3 months? These are the 5 lessons I learned from the pandemic (so far):


1) When facing a challenge, look for the lessons.


(This is how you grow as a person, as a mom, as a business owner)

Here’s how:

  • Journaling. Even if it doesn’t feel insightful at the moment, you can learn a lot when you go back to read those things week, months or years later. 
  • Do a quarterly review like we’re doing right now! Ask yourself these 4 questions:
    • What did I expect to happen?
    • What actually happened? 
    • What can I learn from this? 
    • How can I adjust my behavior for the future based on these learnings?

I said this to y’all a couple of months ago when we were in the thick of it, but I didn’t want to experience everything I was experiencing without looking around for the lessons. If I’m going to go through a valley, through pain, through difficulty, I want to come away with some lessons for the future when I’m back on the hill again.

Since learning this lesson, here’s how I’m going to make adjustments for the future: Do more frequent “after action reviews” like this one. I do them annually, but quarterly or even monthly would be beneficial.


2) Successful businesses operate from facts, not feelings. 


FACT: I’m not allowed into hospitals to photograph births. FEELING: But what if I’m never allowed back in? My entire business is built around birth. What if, what if, what if… 

FACT: I have to close the studio for 30 days. FEELING: What if they make me close it in May too? How will I pay rent? Support my family? What if, what if.. 

Do you see how easy it would be to make terrible decisions if you’re basing them off feelings? 

Moving forward, I will operate from FACTS and DATA in my business, not emotions or feelings.

There have been times I’ve felt like I haven’t booked many births or clients or made enough income in a specific month or week. If I made decisions off that feeling, they might not be accurate. However if I have DATA I can actually make a decision. So, if I have that feeling I can go look at my P&L for the month, or HB to see how many clients I’ve actually booked. Sometimes I’m surprised and I’ve booked a lot more than I FELT or earned a lot more than I FELT like I did. And if not, I can take that data and make an actual informed decision. 

After COVID, we implemented new contracts, new policies, extra communication between me and my clients, my students and my team. I have to over communicate with these new policies but it allowed me to operate from facts. “IF I can’t photograph your birth due to COVID restrictions, here’s what happens…”

Since learning this lesson, here’s how I’m going to make adjustments for the future:  Track more statistics regularly in my business (like website views, bounce rate, social media followings) to make much more educated decisions based on facts.


3) Cash is king. 


I’m just going to be real with y’all, and I hope you value a leader that’s real, not one who is perfect… I need to have more cash reserves in my business and personally. 

I had a good chunk of cash sitting in the bank, but honestly… not enough for me to feel comfortable, considering how many people are depending on me for survival. 

Things would have been much less stressful if I was sitting on 6 months of business expenses. 

Since learning this lesson, here’s how I’m going to make adjustments for the future: 

  • More consistent monthly cash projections
  • Consistent personal and monthly budgeting plus increase monthly savings % both personally and in the business.
  • This might involve hiring help.


4) Put your oxygen mask on first.


I need to protect myself and my mind and body. That might mean I need to stop watching the news or reading the news and spend less time on social media.


My mental health matters.


I was able to step out of my funk of the unknown of the pandemic and start taking action serving my students and my clients, and that’s from years of training myself of the importance of my focus and my mindset when things are difficult. I refocused on the basics in my life that were essential for optimal function. My faith, praying, quiet, moving my body, hydrating, sleeping.

Part of putting MY oxygen mask on FIRST is to allow myself to have an “off day” or week! To grieve what I expected this time of the year to be when I planned it back in December. To be kind to myself and others. 

There were full days or sometimes several where I got almost nothing done. I would work a few hours and need a couple of days off. 

I’m going to be real with y’all – I called my doctor because I had this pain in my chest for days that would not let up. I felt short of breath often in that time. What I found to help with anxiety:

  • Limit caffeine
  • Exercise
  • Pinterest: type in natural ways to deal with anxiety
  • Essential oils and vitamins 
  • Meditation (headspace and abide)
  • Comedy videos and memes and stand up comedy (DANG TIKTOK)
  • Uplifting worship and music
  • Puzzles 
  • Get in the car and DRIVE 
  • Go to lake Hefner and look at the water. 
  • Social media and news station detox 


Putting my oxygen mask on first also looks like practicing gratitude: I already had a deep sense of gratitude in a lot of ways but being quarantined really allowed me to genuinely grateful for the small things I never thought about. Eating at a restaurant. The option to take my laptop and work at a coffee shop. Seeing my parents. Concerts. Theme Parks. Hugging my dang friends. My health.

Since learning this lesson, here’s how I’m going to make adjustments for the future:  Rest is not a reward, it’s a requirement. Everyday when I’m writing down my BIG 3  – I’m going to also ask myself, “How am I going to rest today?”


5) Be willing to adapt and change with the times. 


I have to be willing to pivot. A lot of successful businesses were created during an economic crisis, so I had to look at my businesses and decide where I needed to refine things, maybe create a new offering or cut out something. 

I get it!! Once you get things set up, it can be frustrating to adapt and change things. 

Any of y’all old enough to remember Blockbuster? Or sheesh even DVDs. Where are they now? After Netflix and Redbox swooped in, they tried to adjust, but it was too late. They waited too long to adapt!

Since learning this lesson, here’s how I’m going to make adjustments for the future: As business owners, we have to look around right now at meetings going online and be willing to adapt. And ask ourselves, if people are more comfortable staying indoors, how can I still serve them? For us right now, that looks like video birth consultations and video ordering appointments. 


Final thoughts: 

I definitely don’t think this is over, and I’ll likely do another similar review at the end of Q3 or maybe the end of the year. But now that most places are opening back up, I thought it would be helpful to reflect back on the last 3 months to see what lessons could be learned and implemented moving forward.


If you found any bit of value in this episode, will you take a selfie or screen shot and tag me on social media? I love hearing from you.


Find me on Instagram: @_thebeautyinbirth_


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Grab Your Guide

A lot of moving pieces go into planning a wedding day timeline and we know it can be overwhelming! Grab our free guide to plan the perfect timeline for your day. 

paste your mailing list code here