Let me tell you, girl, 2018 sucked.

My husband and I were divorcing after 20 years of marriage, I was 50 pounds overweight, and deep in debt.  My confidence was at an all-time low. All of my energy was focused on helping my kids process their emotions and transition through the divorce in a healthy way. My own pain, hurt feelings and downright terror of the unknown ahead of me had to be pushed aside until my kids were on steady ground again. I was determined to not get stuck in fear, anger and heart ache.

I would find the lesson in the pain.

I would actively choose joy, and find a new, happier normal through a sea of uncertainty.

This wasn’t easy and it certainly was not a straight path. There were many moments where I just wanted to hide, to quit my photography business, and get a “real job.” And some moments where I did hide out with my friends Grace & Frankie on Netflix.

Here’s a list of the things that pulled me out of hiding, and helped restore my confidence in myself, my business, and my creativity:

1)      Actively seek out like minded, supportive friends (and a therapist or coach!)

Our friends (especially our female friends) are our lifeline through good and bad times. When the shit hits the fan, they lift us up. I have one friend in particular that I can call at any time, any where and she will be there. I hope you do too. When your confidence is low, or you have busy lives, it’s easy to let these friendships wither. Make time for these important people in your life – even when the idea of putting on your yoga pants to meet for coffee sounds terrible. Give the relationship your time and attention and don’t take these amazing friends for granted.  If you can’t think of someone that you can count on at any time, start to work on building those strong friendships, especially with other women.

Keep in mind though, your friends are not your therapist/coach. Your friends have your best interest at heart and are biased as hell toward making you feel better. Your best girlfriend will tell you how much your ex sucks and that you’re perfect. That’s why we love them. If you have a friend that calls you out when you’re wrong, that’s great, but also get yourself a therapist/coach to work through the deeper issues surrounding self-worth, self-sabotage, and negative thinking. Their job is to hold up a mirror, to help you see your blind spots and patterns and work through them.

2)      Make a list of your accomplishments – all of them!

Grab your journal and make a list of all of the things you’ve accomplished in your life. From the 5th grade art contest to getting into college, to building a business and raising your amazing kids, giving to charity, marching in that protest, or supporting a friend in need, list it all. Then, read over the list and pat yourself on the back for all of your amazingness!  Bonus points for sharing your list with a friend and celebrating each other’s awesomeness with a CHEERS!

3)      Read inspiring books or watch movies of other amazing women.

Whose life inspires you? Who do you look up to? From RGB to Hedy Lamar, from Janet Mock to Shonda Rimes, to my favorites, Elizabeth Gilbert and Brene Brown, there are thousands of books, podcasts and movies of inspiring modern and historical female legends. Here are a few that’ve gotten me through rough times: (this is by no means an exhaustive list…there are SO many great books and stories!)

·       Year of Yes: Shonda Rimes

·       My Friend Fear: Meera Lee Patel

·       Big Magic: Elizabeth Gilbert

·       Heart thoughts: Louise Hay

·       You are a Badass: Jen Sincero

·       Playing Big: Tara Mohr

·       Evolution of Goddess: Emma Mildon

·       Love Warrior: Glennon Doyle

·       The Beautiful No: Sheri Salata (new book!)

·       Sorry I’m Late, I Didn’t Want to Come: Jessica Pan (for my fellow introverts)

·       Daring Greatly (I know you read it already, read it again! 😊 )


4)      Book a photo shoot and post the results on social media

EEEKK! I know this one might make you want to run for the hills, but hear me out 😊 . With the right photographer, this is an incredible, confidence building experience. Last year, right when my ex moved out, I was 25 pounds heavier than I am right now (50 pounds over my ideal weight). So what did I do? Booked a photo shoot! It sounds counter intuitive – shouldn’t I be at my ideal weight before I book a shoot? You can’t imagine the number of times I’ve heard “I have to lose 10, 20, etc. pounds FIRST before I book with you.” Girl, I get it.

Let me present another idea. You deserve to be represented in photographs no matter your age, waist measurement or dress size.  Your clients, friends, family and children know what you look like. And they love you no matter what. When I booked my shoot, I was not feeling my best. But, the act of preparing for the shoot, being pampered with hair & makeup, and being seen and photographed by someone I trust, was exactly what I needed to start to build my confidence. I posted the photo I loved most online and basked in the likes and comments. No shame here. I wanted to be seen and feel beautiful, which is what a great photographer can do for you.

5)      Choose one of your goals and take a small action step toward that goal

Tackling a large goal can be overwhelming. If you’re like me, you might even suffer from analysis paralysis, overthinking, or perfectionist thinking. When we set a goal and don’t achieve it for whatever reason, it can erode our confidence to reach for the next goal. Take one of your goals and break it down into very small chunks. Make your NEW goal to complete that ONE small chunk. Make it something that you can and will do in a short period of time. Over time, those small things add up and build our confidence to tackle bigger and bigger goals.

What one goal do you want to make progress in? What’s one small thing you could do TODAY toward that goal?


6)      Step (or jump!) outside your comfort zone

For me, stepping outside my comfort zone meant international travel and photographing clients around the world. When I was younger, we didn’t have the money to travel, and then I had two kids! I decided after my divorce to make travel an important part of my business and life. In the last 18 months, I’ve been to London, Egypt and Paris photographing clients and exploring new cities and new experiences. Navigating the Tube and the Metro by myself, location scouting and photographing clients in a place where I don’t speak the language, and even getting my wallet and passport stolen in Paris (the people at the US Embassy are super nice, by the way) all have built my confidence that I can handle much more than I think and opened my mind to the world.

What’s something you could do to stretch your comfort zone? What would bust right through it? Make it happen.

BONUS TIP: Get outside yourself to gain perspective.

The very best way, in my experience, to build confidence and bust through self esteem ruts is to give. Giving your time, money, and/or attention to someone in need not only flexes your gratitude muscle, it helps give you perspective on what really matters. Find a group, cause or person that could use your help and GIVE. Bonus points for spending your time working with a person or group in need face to face. This connection is priceless to both you and the receiver of your attention.

As business owners, and humans living in a crazy world, we can get stuck in negative thoughts and self-defeating behaviors. Our attitudes directly affect our bottom line. Taking action to keep positive, confidence building activities in the forefront is the best way to grow ourselves personally and our bank accounts professionally.

I sincerely hope this has been helpful to you to break through confidence blocks. Please reach out and let me know if you tried any of these tips!



PS: Here I am at Versailles - a dream come true!

Jessica Daniels