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Expectations

What does my future look like?

I came to a pretty tough realization this morning:

As much as I think about the future, I don’t turn those thoughts into concrete plans nearly enough.

It’s not that I’m oblivious - I have an (almost) daily reminder in my journal to answer the same, elusive question:

What does my future look like?

This question has become a little more complicated since I started my new job at Slalom.

Not only does a full-time job force you to make the most of your extra time, a job with this company means you also get to play an active role in piecing together your own career.

As amazing as this is, it doesn’t make clarifying my future an easier.

If I had to guess, I’m suffering from the same problem a lot of people do. Planning for the future is hard, time-consuming, and doesn’t provide any instant gratification.

In other words, it goes again human nature. Most of us are hyper-focused on the here and now and don’t prioritize actions that have delayed results.

Unfortunately, it usually takes something extreme or jarring to drive the point home.

I don’t want to wait for something to make me change my ways. I want to play an active role in creating my own path and shaping my future.

Now all I have to do is sit down, shut up, and answer this question…

Biting off more than I can chew

I’ve always had a hard time saying, “No” to new opportunities.

You could say I’m addicted to the rush that comes with a new project or idea.

However, as many of us learn (the hard way), saying, “Yes” to everything is one of the quickest ways to welcome disappointment.

Personally, I thought I could handle my new job, freelance work, new projects with my company Viabl, and writing while somehow still balancing my relationship with my fiancé.

As I’ve quickly found out, I’m not doing as well as I thought.

I received my first email from a client mentioning the timeframe built into our contract.

As someone who prides myself one helping others take their ideas from zero to one quicker than anyone else, reading this was both a gut punch and a reality check.

I’ve always focused on successfully managing the expectations of the people I help. When I fail to meet a certain expectation I set, it communicates a lack of professionalism.

Now that I have less time each day, I have to be even more realistic with my commitments.

That’s why, once I finish my outstanding freelance work, I’ll be taking a small break to reevaluate where I want to go and, more importantly, how much I can take.

For all of you who have never worked with your own clients, I can’t stress enough the importance of managing expectations (and clear communication).

It can make or break your career.

Lower your expectations

I’ll be the first to admit - I have unreasonably high expectations for myself.

So much so that I often find myself coming up short.

Usually, when you find yourself disappointed, there are two things you can do:

  1. Rise to the occasion and align your actions with your expectations

  2. Lower your expectations

Depending on whom you talk to, this can be a slippery slope.

In theory, option one is ideal because it forces us to grow and allows us to take action without compromising. However, as someone who has tried this over and over again, I can say it’s much harder in practice.

I’m learning that lowering my expectations in small doses can be okay, especially since they are astronomically high.

When done carefully, lowering our expectations can allow us to still make progress without burning out or being constantly disappointed.

We just need to make sure that it doesn’t become our default setting when things get hard.