• Justin Key

2019: The Year of Discipline

As a kid, I always looked forward to the New Year’s Eve festivities and the sledding party my family had on the 1st to kick off the new year. After that, it was back to school which meant my excitement for the new year didn’t extend beyond January 2. After I graduated from college in 2013, the world was my oyster, but I’d developed a shellfish allergy. I finally had the freedom to do anything and be anything I wanted the problem was I wasn’t interested in anything. New Year’s Eve parties were still fun but there were no longer sledding parties so January 1st was spent trying to kill a hangover with the lone resolution to find a path for myself by years end.


2017 was different. I’d found a patch of land on which to build a future upon so when the year began I was thinking well beyond January. I hadn’t fully cleared the haze that clouded my mind after graduation which limited my progress. By the time 2018 rolled around, I'd managed to level the plot to begin construction. Last year I began to build. With a sense of direction and a clear mind, a strong foundation was laid out. Last year laid the groundwork for a prosperous future and gave me an identity for the first time in my life.


2019 is now underway and there has never been a year with so much promise on my horizon. I ended 2018 on a wave of momentum that’s propelling me into 2019 overflowing with hope. Finally, there is a path to follow. Finally, I have the blueprints for my future. Finally, I am walking into a fresh year with my head held high and a plan of attack. It all starts now.


Welcome to the year of discipline. 2019 is about keeping this train on the tracks and moving closer to the destination 2018 pointed it towards. Every move I made in 2018 was meant to set me up for a big 2019. Last year cleaned up a lot of old photos on the computer and has this year ready to start working on recent travels. Last year invested in a festival booth allowing this year to focus on recovering that investment. Last year collected information for this year use to its advantage. Last year gave me a glimpse at the person I hope to become in 2019.


I’m dedicating this year to discipline because it will be vital to my goal of launching this dream full time in 2020. That’s been the goal since I started this pursuit and I believe this year could set me up to finally do it. Festivals proved to be prosperous with the couple that accepted my virgin tent. There was a learning curve but I was able to gather a wealth of information that I expect to benefit from this season. I know how to submit to shows better, which shows to submit to, how to layout my booth, and I've improved at talking about my work. With a good year, I may have the confidence to quit my day job in 2020.


It will take more than financial success at festivals this summer though and that’s where the discipline will come into play. I’ve found Facebook and Instagram aren’t reliable resources for marketing. To help build my audience I’ve started a newsletter. When people want to find my work again, they can sign up for a monthly email with updates on my activity. I wasn’t disciplined enough to inform everyone about the newsletter or in some cases even bring the signup sheet to shows. The newsletter will be my direct link to people interested in my work and keep them informed when social media falls short.


I made an effort to find other platforms to display my work in 2018 and had some luck. My main gallery was on Santa Fe which receives the largest turnout for Denver’s First Friday art walks. Once I was accepted I stopped exploring other options. While the crowds can't be beaten, and I had some luck with sales, I've started to wonder if other districts might better receive my work. This year I hope to find alternative locations to expand my audience.


When it comes to editing I need to be more disciplined. Far too often I found ways to distract myself from editing or found things that put it on the back burner. While I made an effort to correct those habits last year it wasn’t enough. Being on top of my photography would be a huge weight off my shoulders. It starts with efficiency. My time to work on photography is limited and I need to find ways to maximize the time available for it. Then it comes down to focus and making sure when I am able to work that I am locked into what I’m doing. I believe that can be solved with a simple lifestyle adjustment.


I’ve always been active and as I’ve let my health slide I’ve seen the negative side effects follow. Bad moods, fatigue, poor sleep quality, and lack of focus can be fixed by fitting exercise into my schedule. Meditation was something I began experimenting with in 2018 and saw very positive results from it. By combining a consistent meditation practice and a mix of cardio, weightlifting and yoga I hope will improve productivity.


Discipline has long been a fault of mine and for the first time I’m placing an emphasis on changing that. It wasn’t long ago I was doubting my chances of making it and now I’m working toward doing it full time. With a bit of momentum and a belief in myself, it is in 2019 I may finally crawl over the hump. I found the courage to start, used perseverance to keep things moving and now I need discipline to take it to the next level.


I’ve never been so optimistic about a new year. We look at the changing of the year as a fresh start, a chance to correct our faults. When you’ve made the corrections and are staring at a clean slate, it’s a chance to build on your success. So if you’re going into this year hoping it’s the one that finally sees a change, put the work in because when 2020 rolls around you will be ready for it like I am.

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© Justin Key Photography