Anyone else ever feel like they can take on the world and then some? Same here. The truth is that we can’t do it all - not all at once, anyway.
This month is one filled with lots of transition in my world. I’m longer a student, for the first time in NINETEEN years! And yes, if you did the math, I graduated from college in 3 years. I knew what I wanted to do then, and I went for it. Law school was calling my name. My first year of law school was one giant reality check. It forced me to re-evaluate the standards I set for myself. For the first time in a long time, I had to make some serious adjustments based on having more limited time and energy, and being faced with a steep learning curve.
Fast forward to September 2019. I’ve been juggling legal studies and my art business for over a year now. It hasn’t always been easy, although it’s always been worthwhile. As I embark on my new career this month as a full-time lawyer, I’ve been forced to reassess my expectations, much like I did when beginning law school.
Looking ahead at the next few months, I know it will be a serious adjustment period for me. Whenever I’m thrust into a new routine, it takes me some time to figure out how to adjust accordingly. In general, I’m a huge proponent of planning ahead. I try to plan everything humanly possible - sometimes to a fault. But there are some things we can’t plan for.
Personally, I know that I will have to scale back my art business in some ways. It will take me longer to finish commissions, and I will have to plan much of my Instagram feed in advance. I’ll have to consider long-term art opportunities ahead of time, and say no to more opportunities than I would like. My new career will have to take the front seat - but that doesn’t mean I have to give up my passion for creating artwork.
From here on out, I’m trying my best to be patient with myself. I’m learning how to step back and set realistic goals for myself. Sure, maybe some other full-time artists can afford to post 1-2 times per day on Instagram and other social media sites. Maybe they sell hundreds of pieces a year. But for me, maybe 1-2 posts per week, and occasional social media engagement is okay. That’s something I can realistically carve out time for. Maybe I can’t churn out blog posts every week, but I can produce a decent blog post each month. These goals are sustainable, considering my limited time and resources. Recognizing this up front still permits me to do more, if I want to and can afford to - but also reminds me to not beat myself up when I can’t reach arbitrarily high expectations that I simply can’t meet. Where do we get these expectations from, anyway? Probably from comparing ourselves with others. I’m trying to avoid doing that, and you should, too. Our experiences are unique, and we need to set our own expectations to reflect that.
Whether you’re a fellow entrepreneur or not, I think we can all benefit from setting realistic expectations for ourselves. This doesn’t mean that we forego challenges and give up on our dreams! It doesn’t mean that we abandon our ambitions. Instead, we may have to shift our mindsets and give ourselves some grace. As my elementary school motto said: we can shoot for the moon, and even if we miss, we’ll land among the stars. Yeah, I know, cheesy. But it’s true! We can aim to be the best versions of ourselves and do the most, but at the same time we need to be comfortable falling back on the realistic expectations we set for ourselves, and find comfort within those boundaries.
As the new academic year/fall season rolls around, now is as great a time as ever to brainstorm the realistic expectations you can set for yourself. Maybe you have some personal goals you’d like to reach, like incorporating health & fitness changes into your life. Perhaps you’re trying to achieve some financial goals, like saving for a new car or home. It’s possible that you’ve felt either too challenged or not challenged enough in your current professional role, and think it’s time to reevaluate what changes or moves you need to make. Whatever your situation may be, I wish you the best of luck. Now go out and grab an accountability partner, set some new goals for yourselves, and keep each other on track!
Was this blog post helpful for you? Do you also struggle with setting realistic expectations? I’d love to hear your story. Feel free to connect with me on Instagram at @dcbrushesandstrokes, or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.