Why I’m Lowering Expectations for Myself in 2017


I did put on ski goggles for a night walk this year, so maybe this post is more about “creatively reworking” my action items. Photo courtesy of BC.

You know what? I did it. That thing where you meet the new year with renewed hope and a few semi-ambitious expectations. Okay, they were ambitious—and fueled by reading inspirational Medium posts laced with grit.

Medium is where the socially conscious, go-getters share their stuff:

The twentysomething software engineer who’s going to break through the barriers of low self-esteem, build her following to more than the thousands it already is, and master advanced pole-dancing moves.

The best-selling Amazon writer who decluttered his life, minimized social media, and quadrupled his writing output. He said it helped to move to Colombia, where persistent advertising wasn’t such a distraction.

Then there’s the dad of four who’s getting his Ph.D. in organizational psychology and promising to be more open about his writing process—sharing the tips for how one of his more recent posts got 150,000 views.

It’s all very “Hey friend with lots of potential, let me help you along your road to awesomeness.” It feels attainable.

I have my own friends who are getting after it, digging down deep into the creative waters and weaving a web of connections, inspiration, and collaboration that are amazing.

I’m jealous.

But I’m also exhausted.

It’s hard to see whether my imposter syndrome is holding me back, or the full-contact fatigue that hits at 7 p.m.

I thought I could start the race with the rest of you. I was there in my race attire at the starting line, and I kept up the pace for the first 50 meters. But I went anaerobic real fast and now my body is wasted.

So I’m rearranging the priorities and lowering the expectations.

First, I’m taking off the “nothing will stop me” glasses and looking realistically at the picture in front of me. I have three young kids. My oldest is intense and this Friday when I’d like to finish some freelance work and write an article pitch, my husband and I will be seeing a parenting coach to get new strategies.

I’m looking at the tattered patchwork of school days we’ve had over the past two months, and wondering if routine is simply a memory. But I can shovel twelve inches of snow off the driveway and throw chains on the car by myself in a jiffy and then drive to the pediatrician.

After weeks of haphazard childcare due to slow and slush and pressing freelance deadlines, I’m spent, but I can cook three family-sized meals at once, in case we can’t leave the house for days.

I did sign up for a political organizing class that seems really interesting, and I’ve done the reading and most of the homework, but I missed the first class, and I’m about to miss the second because K-Pants has the flu (the real-deal one where the pediatrician comes back into the room wearing a mask). I had babysitting set up for my class since my husband will be out of town, but what babysitter is going to come to a flu-infected house? Maybe it’s a gift. I’ll wait on the class.

My creative brain aches to write and keep working, sharing and collaborating and putting my pitches out there to be rejected and reworked until they are polished and accepted.

But I’d also really like to focus on sleep. I want to get in bed early after a hot bath. I want to lower my cortisol levels. I want to have restful dreams that give me enough energy to take Boy Woww to the naturopath about those persistent fungal infections. Plus I’m going to have to lug the whole crew to his 12-week “burst” of speech pathology appointments.

It’s not like I’ve got him in reading tutoring and Suzuki violin and mini-soccer. I want my kid to have fungus-free skin and say his Rs properly.

That’s it. I don’t even have a well-worked conclusion. I’ve gotta go wake up my kids to give them inordinately expensive Tamiflu, siphon-off some for myself, and then take the bath I wished I’d drawn an hour ago.


3 responses to “Why I’m Lowering Expectations for Myself in 2017

  1. This year I chose a word instead of making resolutions. It’s a thing this blogger lady from England does and provides a how-to for. My word is “act.” Very motivating and is forcing me outward. But as I learned in the tutorial, it’s perfectly fine to also pick a word that is inward looking, nurturing, and gives you permission to take care of yourself and not be a crazy go-getter for a year. Sounds like you need that kind of word, and that is perfectly okay! Be good to yourself, friend!

  2. Parenting is hard. Very hard. Perhaps the saying should be, “Parenting. It’s what happens while you’re busy making plans.” Love you, Daddio

  3. Sounds fine to me. I’m sure you’ll find a way to work in your creative outlets, but all in good time. I’m glad you’re giving yourself some slack to be able to deal with everyday life and not be bummed by it.

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