Life Planning Outline

  • Big Decisions & How to Make them

Michael and I were just on Showit LIVE on Wednesday and we were talking about our journey to becoming a husband/wife team. It was a long one and it wasn’t easy. This decision was something that we prayed about, sought counsel about and really thought about for a LONG time. I think we all can relate to big decisions like this. Whether it’s deciding what college to go to or whether it’s deciding to except a job offer, big decisions are hard to make. We’re extremely thankful for people in our life that were there to help us walk through this discernment process. Michael and I were a part of an amazing group of young married couples in ministry last year.

We met with them and our mentors several times throughout the year and we couldn’t imagine going through last year without them.  God knew what He was doing!! As the year went on and Michael and I really started to think about this next step for our lives, we were introduced to this awesome “Decision Making/Life Planning” process.  Katherine McElveen is the President of inVision Ventures and she shared this process with us during one of our retreats.  Basically, this series of questions really helped us work through what was next for us! Now, this is coming from a Christian perspective but it could work for anyone! Seriously! Ok so here’s the outline that we went through as we were trying to decide if this was the right move for us:


1. Vision Statement: We literally created a “Vision Statement” for our LIFE! Most businesses and organizations have them and so why shouldn’t we have one for our marriage and our life together? We created our vision statement based on what our life would be about if we decided to move forward as a husband/wife team.

2.   Assets/Gifts/Capacities: This question was asking us “What do you already have in your life that could make this goal/dream/decision happen?” We broke this step up individually and then together. So we wrote out my gifts & capacities and then we wrote out Michael’s gifts & capacities. Then, we wrote out our assets and gifts that we have as a couple.  Here are some examples of our assets/gifts/capacities that could make our next step happen:

Katelyn: Artistic, dreamer, doer, relational, tries new things, teacher, big picture person

Michael: Passion for serving, relational, administrative, supporter, planner

Together: High relational capacity, debt free, passion for couples, KJP is already established, connections with leaders in the industry, supportive families.

3. How will we develop our capacities into strengths? We decided to divide up the business duties based on our gifts and capacities. We also committed to invest deeper into our connections in the industry.

4. What is at stake? What are our fears? Basically, what is keeping us from making this decision. What is holding us back? For us, there were different things that we were fearful of individually and together. Some overall fears were about financial issues, breaking stereotypes, and health insurance.

5. What are the risks of NOT living into this vision?  This was our favorite question because it really validated why we needed to do this. We had to write out what we would lose if we DIDN’T make the decision to partner together. If we didn’t become a husband a wife team, we would run the risk of having a stagnant business, Michael and I never seeing each other, and  increased stress and strain on me while I ran the business solo.

6. What gives us hope about this goal/decision/vision? I lied, maybe this was our favorite question! We loved listing out what we hoped would happen because of this decision! Some of our hopes were: More time together, a stronger marriage because we’re working towards the same goal, more freedom to volunteer with our youth group kids, less pressure on Katelyn, more to offer clients, traveling together, dreaming bigger dreams.

7. Timeline: The last step is a timeline. We made a 3 month timeline to start with. We needed several months to pray about this decision and talk to the wisest people in our life…. and that’s exactly what we did.  We met with my parents, Michael’s parents, Jasmine & JD, Zach & Jody, our mentors John and Mary, our great friends Buddy & Jill, our pastor and several others. It never hurts to hear the opinions of others that you love and respect. We gave ourselves 3 months to have these conversations and then we started praying about making the big step.

To some, this may seem like a ridiculous outline for one decision… but it was a TREMENDOUS help!! We’re so thankful for this process and we’ll definitely use it again in the future when other big decisions arise.

So if you’re in a place where you’re making a big decision or you’re thinking of making a big goal happen, I hope this can be a GREAT tool for you! If you want to make it a little more exciting, write out your plan on a MASSIVE sheet of paper! It just makes everything feel more epic! Imagine us sitting down with our families and pulling out a life size piece of paper titled “M&K’s Life Plan”.  haha They were impressed.

Have a GREAT weekend everyone!!!!



xoxo, Katelyn
19 Comments Personal
  1. Laura Hernandez reply

    This was SO encouraging. We too, are a husband and wife team. Fresh out of the gates into this world of photography that can be a scary place if you let it be. I’ve written down these questions and plan on discussing them today with my hubby while we’re having our lunch dad. For us its expertly important to put God first. I’m more of the “getter-done” type of person, my husband is outgoing one that every loves and brings a smile to the face of whom ever he’s around. Together, we can do this. Wish we had other husband/wife teamed photographers to speak with like you did (or I just wished we didn’t live on different costs and could talk to you.) Blessings.

  2. Rebekah Hoyt reply

    THANK YOU for sharing this! As I was watching you and Michael on ShowIt Live, I literally pulled out a piece of pen and paper when Michael told us to, and then I put it away as soon as you said you were going to blog this! So thank you for sharing this – I’m excited to start making plans of my own and see where the Lord takes me!

  3. Victoria reply

    The Type A planner in me LOVES this idea! My (BRAND NEW!) husband and I may just sit down soon and go through these steps ourselves.

    Love watching you work and seeing how the Lord leads it all.

    Grace and Peace,
    Mrs Wilson

  4. Victoria reply

    Love watching you two work! May have to take this idea to my husband as we plan our life :)

    God’s blessings on you and your business, your ministry, and most importantly your marriage!

    Grace and Peace,
    Mrs Wilson

  5. ashley barnett reply

    Ohhh Katelyn I love this! Such a great idea! Jeremy and I are in the same place of trying to decide where our businesses are going to go and this is such a perfect activity! Thanks for sharing!

  6. Rhonda reply

    Thanks for the great post, Katelyn. What you described is exactly what I’ve stepped out to do with couples. After providing counseling to couples for 15 years, I often see this as a process from which both healthy couples and couples who have come through crisis greatly benefit. I L.O.V.E. seeing couples move to toward fulfilling dreams & Goals together. Congrats to you and Michael!

  7. Carmaleta reply

    Encouraging and definitely doing this! Thank you for sharing!

  8. Abby Grace reply

    I’m hoping this is something Matt and I can start to talk about in the next two years. The thought of being able to work with the hubs every day is SO attractive!

  9. Jasmine star reply

    So happy and proud of you!! Keep dreaming!!

  10. Alicia Candelora reply

    This is probably my favorite blog post EVER that you’ve done! Ada and i are in the middle of making some huge decisions as well and this really helps a ton :)

  11. Ashlyn reply

    This was so good to read. And I also want to applaud you all on living debt free! That’s amazing, and that’s something I want to do in my life, as I’ve seen firsthand the havoc it can create, and the pain it produces. No fun.
    I really enjoyed reading this post, and it will definitely give me some things to think about. :) thanks katelyn. :)

  12. Megan reply

    Katelyn, i recently started following your blog after i heard about you from out good friends jeremy and Kristin schmucker who are wedding photographers in dallas. While im not a professional photgrapher, my husband and I, both musicians, are going through a similar situation on deciding when to pursue our dreams of teaching full-time. I have many of the same struggles you spoke about and we have decided to step out in faith beginning this summer! It could not have been a more perfect post for you to write today! Thank you!!!

  13. Ilaria reply

    Hi Katelyn! yours is a great decision! Myself and my partner are a team and I can assure you it is just wonderful. We can convey in one direction all our energies, our strengths and we spend a lot of time together that would otherwise doing two separate jobs, it would not be possible. Many of our friends were afraid that working together could get us into trouble on the sentimental side, but the opposite has happened. We strengthened and now we can not think of a life other than this. Unlike you, we have not made lists of pros and cons and we plunged into this adventure without thinking of the consequences, so impulsive, but it was the best choice we could do! I’ll give you best wishes and continues to amaze us with your beautiful photos! Ilaria from Italy

  14. Emilia Jane reply

    I am so excited for you two and your family!!! The LORD will bless you beyond measure, I just know it. Can’t wait to see you at United in a couple weeks :-D

  15. Kristina W. reply

    I really like this idea of making a “life plan” for a marriage! It seems like it’s a great tool to use and is both fun and important to do on a semi-regular basis. I hope all the things you and Michael hoped for on your life plan come true!

  16. Marital Gluesday: Creating Our Dream Life » Sarah Syhakhoun Photography reply

    […] was inspired by Katelyn James this week to sit down with San and write out our vision for our life.  Katelyn did this with her husband Michael in order to figure out whether transforming her […]

  17. Jill Powers reply

    YES! I’m so glad you posted this because my notes from Showit Live were not this detailed! Bud and I are definitely going to use this!! xo

  18. Sarah reply

    Katelyn, While I am not a photographer nor going into business with my boyfriend, I believe this advice is applicable to ANYONE pursuing ANY dream, solo or as a team. Thank you for sharing your insight.

  19. Rebecca Edwards reply

    Katelyn, your blogs are wonderful. You don’t find many people sharing their faith like you do. I admire you and your husband in all the steps you have taken to get where you are. Without God and His guidance we are nothing.
    My husband and I ventured into portrait photography this past year. We have shared a love for landscape work. People would see our posts from our ventures together and ask about portrait work. My motto for the longest time was “trees aren’t critical, people are” . We have made mistakes and learned so much as well. Now 8 months into our leap of faith I keep finding it hard to get a common style (editing and shooting), to allow each other to take control without the other getting their feelings hurt in some way. Like you, many prayers have gone up and after reading the steps you outlined this may help us to ultimately get where we need to be. United……
    Again thank you for sharing this. Have a blessed week!

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