Since you’re one of my peeps, I can make a bunch of assumptions about you. Namely, that you’re an overachiever who does your absolute best each day. You might be grappling with mental illness or physical illness or battling asshole brain or measuring your worth by your work ( <– HAPPY FREEBIE TO HELP YOU DEAL WITH THAT HERE). No matter what, you still give each day’s efforts everything you’ve got.
Trouble is, I’ve noticed that my clients and I are often holding ourselves to standards we created in The Before. Nothing about our lives functions the same way as it did in 2019, but we refuse to let ourselves lower the bar for what it takes to survive and thrive in 2022.
Psst! This is an episode of my podcast, That’s What She Said! The audio contains more asides and three of my poems, but here’s the quick version 👇🏻:
Here are 3 thoughts that might help you ease up on your expectations for yourself in these dumpster fire days:
1 – When you’re in the BRACE FOR IMPACT position, your clients probably are, too.
A coaching client of mine mentioned that inquiries for her business dropped significantly in the past 10 days. She was certain this was ALL HER FAULT.
“Did anything else happen in the past 10 days,” I asked.
“Yup, Russia invaded Ukraine. I’ve been off of social media and in the fetal position for a few days now.”
“Do you think your (potential) clients are ALSO in the fetal position, which explains the lack of inquiries?”
“Holy shit…you’re probably right.”
When the world is destabilized at the global level by an insane dictator who provokes a war for no good reason, and who attacks a nuclear plant for funsies, it’s nigh impossible to continue business as usual. You might feel less like you care about your business, or you might pay less attention to other businesses, or both.
That’s because when you’re in the brace position, your clients probably are, too.
I’m not saying you have to stop working or marketing entirely, but please give yourself the grace of realizing that you’ll probably have to repeat yourself more as this conflict continues.
Acknowledging that current events effect your energy levels, mood, and will to work means you don’t have to beat yourself up for being human, or wonder WHY NO ONE CARES ABOUT YOUR SALE ON MUGS RIGHT NOW. You’re not doing anything wrong; we’re simply doomscrolling and panic breathing in an ever-more-distracted fashion at the moment.
2 – No one can tell the difference between your 90% and your 100%.
This is a fun principle to test out!
One of my coaching clients spent hours less time than usual on a writing project for her college class, shocked to find it returned by the professor with an A+ at the top. That’s because, for overachievers who are habitually aiming for perfection, no one can tell the difference between our 90% and our 100%.
You can easily spend hours tweaking font kerning or editing a draft for a fifth time. And NO ONE CAN TELL THE DIFFERENCE IN YOUR FINISHED PRODUCT.
This is a call not for lowering your standards, but for acknowledging where you are already meeting and exceeding others’ standards for your work.
You are not required to go above and beyond for each effort you make.
You do not have to CRUSH IT OUT OF THE PARK each time you step up to bat.
Your clients do not need to have their texts returned within 23 seconds.
You don’t need to show up on social media 23 times per day with your game face on.
Much of your success in the coming years (read: as systems continue to crumble and everything ever is in flux) lies in your ability to know which standards to maintain and which you can let go.
Showering? Still pretty awesome.
Responding to each email received within 15 minutes? Lower the bar.
Delivering client orders days ahead of schedule? Lower the bar.
Losing sleep to put the finishing touches on a low-paying project? Lower the bar.
Not letting yourself feel feelings even though Covid isn’t over and Putin is making moves that threaten the entire world? Lower the bar. (And let yourself have feelings.)
To my delight, one of my clients was like, “If I’m being honest, I don’t think people can tell the difference between my SIXTY perfect and my hundred percent.” Yes! Exactly!
We require SO MUCH of ourselves that lowering the bar feels like self betrayal – but it’s actually self care.
We simply CAN’T keep our 2019 standards for living or business completely intact and expect to stay sane.
Lowering the bar for ourselves is an act of unprecedented kindness for ourselves and our futures.
It’s also a wise acknowledgement that things have changed – at every level, in every part of the world – and that our futures lie in dealing with reality at this moment. In these times, with these very particular circumstances.
3 – Double down on meaning.
If social media feels like a hellscape of nothingness…good. Quit Facebook and do something you’ve always wanted to do. Take up the hobby you’ve never found time for. Cut your screen time in half and use those hours in ways you find delightful.
You can subvert the entirety of the media complex on this planet by using your time to do anything but doomscroll.
If something has meaning for you, please let yourself take it up with abandon. Write the play, film the movie, record the album, release the book, have the baby, join the movement, organize the protest, adopt the animals, start the project, paint your living room with rainbow colors. (Or, most subversive of all: rest.)
The more society as we knew it goes flying off the rails, the more free you are to pursue that which gives your life meaning. We live on a burning planet, and it’s up to us to determine how we use our time here. Seek hope. Turn off your wifi. Plant a garden. Volunteer. Spend sumptuous hours learning to cook or knit or sew or organize effectively…whatever you like. ANYTHING beats doomscrolling on Insta.
If you don’t know what has meaning for you in this moment – if everything is simply a flat, barren wasteland of despair – rest.
Sleep is a legitimate hobby these days. Other legitimate hobbies for those lowering the bar include napping, daydreaming, resting your eyes, canceling plans, and going to bed early. We can’t reliably access hope in our bodies without having accessed sleep first. The world is simply too heavy, too insane, too wildly WTF IS EVEN HAPPENING to do much of anything effectively without first prioritizing rest.
P.S. You don’t have to earn your keep.