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?