Next week it’s this blog’s 1 year anniversary. I’m really proud of that. I’ll reflect a bit more on that landmark next week but for now I’d like to talk about expectation and the high standards we all hold ourselves to.
When I started the blog I naively thought that I would be able to write 3 blog posts a week on 3 different topics. After all, I had lots to say; lots of ideas to share and lots of experiences with makers that I thought other people might find interesting and/or useful. Well, that thought quickly got scaled back when I realised just how much effort it is for me to maintain the routine of posting once a week. Yes, I did have lots of content that I could share, but once most of that was covered, and I had to think up new things on a regular basis- in amongst all my other work and travel- it wasn’t as straightforward as I’d imagined. You’d think that the once-a-week plan would be simple too, but the number of times I’m pulling something out of the bag late on a Tuesday (or even on Wednesday itself) because I’ve only just realised that I have to post something tomorrow! It’s almost comical.
When this happens, which is more often that I would like, my first instinct is not to help myself and be kind: ‘That’s ok Melody, you’ve been busy this week, what can we do now that will make this easier?’ No, instead, it’s to berate myself: ‘You’ve only got to come up with one post and you can’t do that on time!’ You see I hold myself to outrageously high standards and expect myself to meet them all the time, no excuses. I treat myself in a way that I would never treat someone else. I am often unforgiving, rude and disappointed in myself, for things that are realistically not a big deal. This unfortunate situation is something I am aware of and I am working hard to change. But it’s slow process.
I found myself slipping again this week. Here’s how things were going in my mind:
Inner critic “So… you’ve got a blog post due on Wednesday”
Me “Yes, I know. I was planning to post that interview but I haven’t had time to type it up and it’s going to take ages. I suppose I could try to do it tomorrow but I have things in the diary which I really don’t want to put off.”
Inner critic “You probably should still do it, after all the last week in the month is supposed to be the interview post and you don’t want to mess up the schedule!”
Me (deflated) “ok, I suppose you’re right.”
What?! Why is this ok? I am shocked at my own behaviour. But, luckily, the conversation didn’t end there. I went away for a bit, had a think and returned:
Me “I’ve been thinking. No one else knows that I’ve got this schedule I try to follow, so maybe it wouldn’t be the end of the world if this week I posted something else. I’m already feeling stretched and typing up the interview is not sounding at all fun. I’ll still get to it, but I think it can wait until next month.”
Inner critic “Hmm. But you’d know. And isn’t that the most important thing?”
Me “But, I am the only one who really cares, and as it’s not a significant change I think I can live with it. Thanks for looking out for me, but I think I can take it from here.”
Of course, as I’m sure you know, this dialogue with the inner critic is ongoing but it feels like I made a good step forwards in this situation (although I appreciate the irony of now sharing with you the fact that I’ve muddled up my schedule, but I’m sure you’ll understand!) Why am I sharing this with you? Because I am 100% certain that all creative people out there, especially people doing their own thing, freelancing or self-employed, struggle with their own high expectations of what they will accomplish and the feelings of letting themselves and others down when they don’t meet them.
We have to be less hard on ourselves. I’m not advocating not doing the things you want to do, the things that bring you closer to your big goals or dreams, the things that have us playing true to our values. No, I’m asking you to cut yourself some slack, to make life easier for yourself. Don’t worry so much about the small things. If you are tired or stuck, if you are resisting things, listen to yourself. Don’t force it and don’t beat yourself up. It is ok not to get everything done.
Things to consider:
Do you catch yourself being overly hard on yourself or critical of your work? Do you know which areas are particularly vulnerable? Why do you think this is? What can you do or say to help make it easier on yourself?
If you’ve been struggling to get particular things done (those nagging tasks that hang about on your to do list and cause you to sigh) you might like to ask yourself:
- why you are resistant to doing them?
- can you repurpose them into other tasks?
- do they even need to be done – can you give yourself permission to let them go?
- if this feels wrong, whyis that? Who do you feel you’d be letting down?
- would it help to reframe them? Can you turn them into positive tasks, that relate to your values, so that you feel energy for doing them?
Without planning it, this month’s blog theme has emerged as ‘self-care’. If this is something you feel you’d like to work on here are other posts that deal with this theme: