Realistic Expectations

Photo by Aman Upadhyay on Unsplash

Part of the problem building a creative career feels so hard is that we’re often working off of faulty assumptions and unrealistic expectations.

We think that we can buckle down and in 6 months to a year from now be living that 6-figure online business dream life.

What if we knew going in that it was going to take 5–10 years to build something sustainable?

Something we were truly proud to put our name on.

Something that has the weight and momentum to create real change.

Would we still have started?

I think we would have.

But I think we’d have done it differently.

If we knew we weren’t supposed to have all the answers out of the starting gate, maybe we would have started by experimenting, trying a dozen different things and seeing what stuck.

If we knew that overnight success was a myth, maybe we’d have buckled down, picked a strategy, and opted for the consistent, boring actions that lead to real progress.

If we knew our work was supposed to suck at the start, maybe we wouldn’t have waited so long to ship it, knowing that it was never going to be the work to make or break us.

Maybe we would have had an easier time publishing the shitty stuff until it improved. First to mediocre, then solid, and then maybe even great.

If we knew our first big success would only be the first of many hills to climb, maybe we’d have lowered the pedestal we put it on and made it easier to attain.

If we knew attention without trust was meaningless, maybe we’d have spent more time engaging with the people already in our circle and less time trying to bring new people in.

If we knew the greatest thing we could offer was our unique perspective, maybe we wouldn’t have wasted so much time trying to emulate the style and content of everyone else.

Maybe we would have committed to the initial loneliness of creating singular work, knowing that if we could just get those first ten raving fans, they would bring in the next hundred themselves.

The good news is that we know these things now, and it’s not too late to recalibrate our expectations.

Founder of podcast production and content amplification agency Counterweight Creative. Believer in the power of kindness and generosity.

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