How To Kick Your Expectation Habit

Let's stop driving ourselves crazy.

Written by Clare

How long have we know each other now? Three, maybe four seconds? Five whole seconds? Has it really been that long?

In any case, I feel I can be honest with you about something. Unflinchingly, searingly honest. Here goes:

My name is Clare and I’m an expectation addict.

It feels good to say that out loud. I’m an expectation addict.

I’m telling you this for a reason. I think you’re probably one too. I’m right, aren’t I?

Thought so. Come on. Let’s hit rehab together.

In my experience creative people have a particular tendency to get hung up on expectations. When the wheel of your talent, ambition and hard graft is spinning so fast that it’s a blur, the desire for it to meet the road and take you somewhere can be overwhelming.

You’ve got things to do and places to go. You just need a break, a shot, a toehold. And the universe to co-operate for two seconds. Added to that, if you’ve chosen to be an artist there’s a good chance your life may not be arranged, uh, exactly as you wish. Any of this sound familiar?

You’ve got a day job doing something unrelated to your art so you can pay the bills.

You’ve got a day job and a night job so you can pay the bills.

You’ve moved back in with your parents so you can pay the bills.

You spend most of your disposable income and spare time making your lovely thing or running your business. When you’re not, you know, doing stuff to pay the bills.

It’s fair to say these are some pretty big compromises.

And when we compromise we want it to mean something.

We want to look back and say “That was so hard but it was worth it.”

That’s why expectation is addictive. When something great hovers into view – a job, a major stockist, the chance to exhibit at a big trade show – it’s easy to think your moment has arrived. Suddenly it seems like this is how your story unfolds.

And you know the worst thing? Sometimes it is. Sometimes you get everything you’ve been hoping for and it’s GLORIOUS. Other times you don’t. And it hurts.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been there. You too, right?

Yeah. So you know what I think we should do?

Leave it all on the track.

That’s what British athelete Jessica Ennis-Hill said she was going to do before she became Olympic champion. For me, it means two things.

First, it means doing your job to the best of your ability. Holding yourself to the highest professional standards, constantly refining your skills and doing everything you possibly can to serve your customer. Being incredibly good at what you do.

It also means leaving all that energy where it belongs – in your work. Potential stockists, craft show juries, journalists and all the others who have power and influence are gonna do what they’re gonna do. So let them.

Here’s what we do:

We turn up, we’re incredibly good, we go home and eat quesadillas.

When you move your focus from the outcome to the process, everything is within your control. Expectation doesn’t come into it.

Turn up. Incredibly good. Quesadillas. That’s it.

Now, I’m not saying we go cold turkey on this. That would be crazy. What I am suggesting is that we very quietly and slowly shift what we concentrate on. The big prizes are always going to be there. You know, the money, the fame, the house in Aspen, a never-ending supply of Selkirk bannock.

You may have other goals.

My point is that those things won’t go away if we stop looking at them all the time. And if we stop looking at them all the time, our expectations won’t trip us up so often.

How about we give it a go? I’m game if you are.

Clare Yuille Bio Picture

Clare Yuille

I help creative people like you sell their work to independent retailers, without hyperventilating into a sandwich bag. I take the EEEEK! out of wholesale and replace it with AAAAH, right up until you're making the kind of money you want to make.

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