#ViceHacks: How I Stopped Giving a Damn About Other People’s Expectations

How Kiki Bowman, Director of Operations at FOUR32C, learned to own her choices, and embrace her direction.

After we watch the ball drop and clink our glasses, we mentally draft up an ambitious list of New Year’s resolutions. But making them a reality is much easier said than done, largely due to the vices that stand in our way. Whether you’re a chronic procrastinator, addicted to fast food, or are constantly succumbing to self-doubt, the best place to start may just be eliminating that vice from your arsenal of habits in order to make room for more productive ones to take root. As a part of our #ViceHacks campaign, we are talking to individuals who have done just that, in hopes that taking a deep dive into how they eliminated an unhealthy behavioral pattern may help you eliminate your own. 

What vice/bad habit did you work to eliminate from your routine?

I (mostly) stopped giving a damn about other people’s expectations or thoughts about me.

How did you develop this vice in the first place? Was it something that you battled for a long time, or something that crept over the past year or so?

I would say it starts early and was firmly rooted by middle school. There is so much pressure of expectation—either through friends and family or through media and advertising—that it is impossible to drown it all out. I’ve never liked being told what to do but I felt guilt about not having the milestones (kids or a career or a marriage) at the “right” time.

I wouldn’t say I march to my own drum, more that I’m playing the sax in said percussion band, but I noticed and I cared how I was perceived or that I wouldn’t be taken seriously enough and it sometimes ate at me.

What prompted you to make a conscious effort to eliminate it? How was it negatively affecting your personal and/or professional goals?

I got tired. I got tired of flipping through a magazine and seeing a perfection that I couldn’t achieve and then realizing I didn’t even WANT that. I didn’t want the flat abs and Kardashian closet. I didn’t want the house and yard that so many of my friends opted for and, don’t get me wrong, they seem super happy with their choices but it isn’t what I want. I want what is meaningful for my journey and that is singular to me. I don’t have to explain or apologize for what I want just because it isn’t what everyone else is doing. (Note: the thing about the flat abs is a lie, I actually still totally want that).

How did you begin to detox yourself from this vice?

It’s a constant battle of asking myself over and over, “Is this what I want or is this what I’ve been told I want?” It’s an ongoing process.

What issues or setbacks did you encounter along the way?

So many, still. It’s not easy to divorce myself from other people’s or society’s expectations.

What tools, tricks or other methods did you employ to wean yourself off of said vice? Which were the most helpful and would you recommend them to others who are attempting to banish the same bad habit?

The best advice I can give is to keep asking yourself, “Why?” Why Column A over Column B? Constantly check in with your value system and write down what is important to you! Having what you value in writing makes it more powerful.

What differences have you seen in your personal or professional life since giving up this vice? Have you seen progress or gains towards any of your goals that you can attribute directly to the elimination of the vice?

I feel very confident in my choices because they are mine alone. And, thus, I’m less afraid to take a risk. At the end of the day, I only have to answer to myself.

Why do you think you were finally able to kick the bad habit/tendency?Did you learn anything from the process that gave you some insight on how to stop other unproductive tendencies or habits?

I don’t think this is one to kick for good because there will always be new pressure, but learning how to check in with myself and feeling confident that my own direction is the right one for me makes me more relaxed. I only have to worry about one person’s expectations and my choices are clearer and stronger.

Kiki Bowman has worked as a Kindergarten teacher, retail employee in Scotland, nanny, legal assistant, temp at a bomb factory (accidentally), circus performer, copywriter, and (once) as a Tazmanian wedding planner. She has been in the agency world in New York for seven years and is currently the Director of Operations at the award winning digital agency, FOUR32C.