Why I'm launching Unsetting Expectations
And how it can help you feel less alone, learn to be more gentle on yourself and quiet down your inner critics
Welcome to Unsetting Expectations, a newsletter for all of you high-performing, high-achieving, workaholic, perfectionist individuals in the pursuit of becoming more gentle on yourselves.
Thank you so much for being here - I appreciate you!
👩🏻 Who am I?
Hello, I'm Franka! A Croatian woman studying at Stockholm University and dreaming of a life in Sydney. But also — a 5-times award-winning geospatial professional, excellence scholar with 3 scholarships, an entrepreneur... Honestly, the list goes on.
But that's not the point! The point is, I'm an over-achiever and a workaholic. I've been working since I was little — before I turned 14, I would sell my products around my neighborhood (mostly polymer-clay jewelry), after 14 I'd spend every weekend and holiday working. When I started University, I'd have a part-time job as well as a plethora of active projects I was leading. A couple of years in, I got myself a full-time job in consulting. Yes, alongside a full-time university degree. Yes, while having other projects on my plate too. Yes, that's not recommended.
I would work for 10ish (sometimes +) hours a day and be in school for at least 5h (incl. weekends). I THRIVED off work. I was passionate about what I was doing and I wanted to spend almost every waking minute doing it. But then, one day, bang. 2020 happened and gave me a proper slap in the face.
🗞️ How did this newsletter come to be?
In the first 3 months of 2020, I've experienced business troubles, indirect family violence, fearing for my own life, a worldwide pandemic, a near family member getting really sick, my life plans turned upside down and damaging earthquakes. I felt like the world I knew was falling apart right underneath me.
In March of 2020, I stopped working. I felt like my prefrontal cortex was shut off (which it was, as per later diagnosed PTSD) and I couldn't think like myself. Hell, I could barely think at all! Suddenly, I didn't have only 8 or fewer hours of the day to myself, most of which I spent sleeping, but 24 hours. I was lost. What did people do with so many hours in a day???
Work was my passion, my motivation, my reason for being. Without it, I felt undefined. I didn't have any routines or habits to hold on to, as my time was fully devoted to work. At 26, I was starting to learn how to be a human being and not a working machine from scratch.
It's been a tough ride adjusting and making these changes. For a high-performing, over-achieving perfectionist who's a workaholic, not doing much feels like a personal failure. And I haven't done almost any work for the first six months since March. Now, another six months later, I do have some exciting things on the horizon, so I catch myself falling into my old, negative work habits like checking my e-mail late at night, grabbing my phone first thing in the morning, or getting carried away after work hours. The passion doesn't help because I know where this insanity of mine leads to, and it's not pretty.
So, for the past year, I've been committed to designing a life that works for me instead of one that was going to kill me. I expect a lot from myself, and so do others, so going from working 16+ hours a day and not having a day off in 11 years, to either barely working at all or doing it in under 6 hours, seems like an impossible task. But that’s what I’ve been doing for the past 12 months, as well as uncovering situations faced throughout my life that contributed to this, and I want to share my learnings with you, through personal stories and lessons.
Yes, I do think it's ironic that my chosen way to beat my workaholism is to put on more work! But, I love writing (it's how I process things best), and I love to share my progress and learnings because I know it would help many others. Doesn't make sense keeping it all to myself, doesn't it?
🤝 What can you do to help?
First and foremost — reading the newsletter — and ideally, finding lessons in there for you, is what's the most important. But here's a bit of housekeeping, two requests, and a support mechanism 🙂
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The more comments and feedback you leave, the more inspired I will be to write about certain topics that are of your interest. I've been through what feels like hell and back, so I'm confident I can cover a lot of life situations throughout this newsletter. Hit reply to this email anytime and share what's on your mind.
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Support this newsletter
If you are willing, you can support me in the writings of this newsletter by buying me a doughnut 🍩. Why a doughnut, you may ask? Well, in my native language, 'doughnut' is spelled: 'krafna', which makes it an anagram of my name; Franka. If there was such a thing as a power animal, but for food, I'd be a doughnut.
And that's all for now, folks.
Thanks for reading the inaugural issue of Unsetting Expectations, and I'll see you on Thursday when we’ll start to get talking about some of these topics! 👋
Don't forget to subscribe (you can do so by hitting the button below ⤵️) and I'll see you every fortnight!
In the meantime, please drop me a line if you have any comments or questions.