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I’m Dakota, a Wilmington, NC-based photographer helping engaged couples feel comfortable in front of the camera and creative businesses grow with purposeful brand imagery.

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My One Word For 2023: PUSH (Business and Personal Goals)

January 9, 2023

I love having a word for the year.

I know I have said this in every blog post about choosing a word since early 2018, but as a person who gets bored easily and struggles with consistency sometimes, this tradition has been around for almost the entire life of my business. 

It’s carried me through making major life decisions and given hope when things didn’t feel clear. 

It’s helped me hold onto the hope that there is a plan and that I am always growing.

As I’ve experienced my word over the years, I’ve found myself viewing it as a “theme” for the upcoming year. A mantra that allows for a general direction and non-specific goals. It’s a way to catalog my intentions going into a new season and how it manifested in milestones.

Here’s your yearly reminder of my journey and past words:

2017: FOCUS


2019: TRUST

2020: NOW


2022: NEW

2022: NEW

I went into 2022 in some ways excited, and in a lot of ways broken and exhausted. There was so much in front of me that I had never experienced before…and the word NEW was placed on my heart.

To experience things for the first time, or having them feel like the first time again.

Never before been created. 

I used to be a person that struggled with change. I hated when seasons ended (ex. Graduation, moving, etc.) and felt so much sadness knowing certain aspects of life would never be the exact same as I had been experiencing them.

While I still crave consistency, I have learned to embrace the beauty of change, because that means there is opportunity for something…new. There’s a lot of excitement in the never-been-done-before, or re-visiting something and feeling like it’s happening again for the first time. 

When it came to my goals, a lot of them were focused around accepting and embracing the new…

1. Spend Strategically – check!

This was the first year I was really aggressive and purposeful with my budgeting. I’ve always been a huge saver so being in a position of needing to spend a lot of money at once and then not wanting to feel overexposed was a new challenge. I am VERY proud to end the year debt free, with my Jeep paid off and all of my home updates and renovations paid off!!! 

2. 2 year Streak on Peloton – check!

I am still very much a Peloton girly and I just hit my two year streak in the first week of January. Unfortunately when I struggle with anxiety and depression my fitness takes a hit but I’m thankful for a program that taps into my competitive nature and holds me accountable to at least show up in SOME way. 

This year I was able to become part of the *official* Peloton community by bringing home my own bike, but I also LOVED getting some aggression out through boxing classes in the gym. There’s nothing that feels more badass than jabs and crosses to Enemiem. 

3. Launch some form of “business coaching” – check!

This was massive. I’m still figuring out how to successfully get one business off the ground while still managing and running another but I am so excited about More Than Creative.

Truthfully, I have felt a lot of burnout within the photography world. I’ve been feeling really guilty about that, but I also think the majority of our society is feeling this shift. We’ve all been pushed to our limits like never before and we’re seeing people figure out new passions and areas they want to be.

For me, the creation of More Than Creative feels like not only fresh inspiration but also a redemptive return to something I used to love and kind of had stripped away from me. I LOVE business strategy – marketing, sales, pricing, messaging, operations. All of it. I can’t wait to spend more of my days using my strategy brain so I can also reinvigorate my creative servant’s heart. 

4. Have Dune off-leash trained – done!!!

There is nothing like watching Dune race full speed across the yard at my mom’s…and also knowing that I can keep him safe and out of trouble. He actually loves his e-collar more than a leash because he’s earned his freedom to sprint and explore. 

Next up will be getting him confident enough to be off leash on the beach!

5. Consistent Content Schedule – whomp.

Well this didn’t happen, which is unfortunate because I’ve been trying to find the answer to consistency with my content ever since 2020…that year just really threw me off. 

I miss blogging. I miss writing. I miss talking.

It’s not that I don’t have the content – my notes app is full of captions, ideas, and musings. But with balancing my normal workload, building a new business, wanting to enjoy my personal time, and honestly the weight of heavy emotions, it just feels so much harder than it used to be. 

I will likely still keep this as a goal of mine this year because it feels fitting that I will continue to redeem the things I once loved but felt jaded by. 

6. Learn how to be a homeowner – aka POWER TOOLS – check!!!

This girl has made a home in Lowes and Home Depot and am no longer afraid of tools (that doesn’t necessarily mean I know how to use them but I will figure it out!). I have loved turning my home into a place that brings joy when I walk through the door and I’m really excited to take it to the next level this year with my interior design skills 🙂

Unlike 2021, I went into 2022 with intention. I had a clear vision of what I wanted and I leaned heavily into all of my goals, despite not always having the energy or motivation. I’m really proud that even though I struggled through coping with anxiety and depression, I was still able to celebrate accomplishments and make a lot of beautiful memories. 

It’s all part of my journey.

So…drumroll please….

My word for 2023 is…

2023: PUSH

Push means “a vigorous effort to do or obtain something” and “compel or urge (someone) to do something, especially to work hard.”

It’s actually kind of funny to me that this is my word because up until about a month ago, I hated it. I felt like I had pushed myself harder in 2022 than I ever have and I was exhausted. But in true “my one word” fashion, it kept showing up and I just knew in my heart that it had to be my intention for the new year.

So much about getting yourself “unstuck” is about pushing yourself – to do things that you don’t really want to do. To get out of your comfort zone. To interrupt the intrusive thoughts and lack of motivation.

My therapist usually ends our sessions validating me with the visualization of me pushing myself up a mountain. That’s really what it feels like some days…but I told her last week that choosing this word makes me feel like it’s more of my choice than something that’s being forced upon me.

I am in control. I’m not pushing myself because I’ll drown if I don’t…I’m pushing myself because I deserve the things I want. I deserve to be at the top of the mountain.

2023 Specific Goals

There’s obviously a lot of intangible goals and feelings that I want to achieve this year with a word that is so closely tied to my heart and mental health but I also worked through a list of specific goals that I’m REALLY excited about.

1. Try new types of content

As previously stated, I love content. I’m a never-ending fountain of ideas. I used to love diving into new forms of content, learning everything I could about it and attempting to master it.

I think if I’m going to get that spark back, I need to change up the game and get back to the playful approach to content strategy. Try some new platforms. Get a new perspective of my current platforms. I already have a few plans on the calendar for both businesses. Now it’s just a matter of pressing record.

2. Lean more into brand strategy

I LOVE working with businesses and other entrepreneurs. I love messaging, marketing, sales, and everything else that comes with building a business. I was really excited when I launched the brand photography arm of DHP and while I have worked with 12 amazing brands this past year, I’d really love to see not only the amount of brands increase but also the depth of which I work with them. 

3. Grow my team

Part of owning two businesses and having this one grow at the steady rate that it is will be adding to the team. I’ve struggled with this on the photography side because I feel so personally attached to how I work with my clients but that doesn’t mean I don’t need a team of people to help me serve you better. 

If you think you’d be a good fit and are looking for some additional hours of work (either with a camera in hand or behind a computer), I will be looking soon! 

4. Attend more in-person events

It’s no secret that I love people. I mean…if you spend half of your weekends at weddings then you HAVE to love being around people. I always find inspiration from talking about my vision and hearing other’s dreams so I will be prioritizing putting myself in more in-person opportunities in 2023 – starting with attending The Creative Educators Conference in January! 

5. Create the (single girl) home of my dreams

With the majority of the major updates out of the way, I have a few more ideas on my list to update my home and create a space that brings me joy and comfort. I used to think I didn’t really have any interior decorating skills but I’ve been loving my moodboards and making my visions come to life! 

6. Celebrate my 30th birthday in a big way

It doesn’t even feel real that I’ll be turning 30 this year but it’s coming…and I want to celebrate big!! I’m still toying around with ideas for a trip or maybe a party but either way I want to do something that feels memorable.

7. Document my personal life on film

This one I’m probably the most pumped for! In the past I made a resolution to document more of my personal life and I did but…I haven’t been great at it. When photography is your job, all photos can feel like work. Editing and organizing definitely feels like work. 

This year is also about pushing myself to feel inspired again, and one of the things I’m going to try is shooting my life on film. Nothing too fancy. Just something I can pull out with a specific purpose and not have the pressure of getting the “perfect” photo or having a to do list when I get home. I haven’t bought my film camera yet but Weston did get me a disposable camera that I’ve been using in the meantime! I’m loving it so far.

I’m feeling really optimistic about 2023. 

As per usual, I have a few more items on this goal list but these are the ones I’m feeling the most excited about…which is good because I’m really going to have to PUSH myself to get them done. 

If you’re reading this, thank you for being a part of my team. I am so thankful for your support and encouragement.

I love goals in general (that’s the Enneagram 3 wing showing) so if you have them, and especially if you need help with them, please let me know what you have planned! Sharing can feel scary but accountability is hugely important to succeeding. We weren’t meant to do this alone.

Let’s go 2023!!!!!


I’m Dakota, a Wilmington, NC-based photographer Helping engaged couples feel comfortable in front of the camera and creative businesses grow with purposeful brand imagery.

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