Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Fundraising Woes: Killing unrealistic expectations

Elementary school fundraisers are an introduction to failure and disappointment.

You know what I'm talking about. A company swoops in and gets already hyperactive children overly excited about selling coupon books, wrapping paper, cookie dough or the like.

They pontificate to the children about their solemn responsibility to support their school. They talk about the value of education and the hardworking, underpaid teachers who deserve their respect.

And as if guilt tripping them into participating wasn't enough, there are the prizes. Ooooh the prizes. If you work hard enough you can earn from tee shirts and slap bracelets (is that still a thing?) to stereo equipment and even iPads! I kid you not.

The school claims that participating in these events teaches students to have a positive attitude, to put others first, teamwork, and responsibility. All I see is that it turns these kids into ravenous prize grabbers.

My four year old came home from pre-k the other day with a fundraising packet. I asked her what it was for and she informed me that "Daddy has to work harder so he can give me money for my school." This was not appreciated by her daddy, who works plenty hard to provide both necessity and comfort for our little family. The thing is some nice man promised her that if she helped earn money for her school she could earn prizes, and she really has her eye set on either a rocket launcher, or a helicopter that flies. I calculated that she would need to earn $600 dollars in order to get the $20 dollar prize.

Now, I know schools need to have fundraisers. My degree is in education and my husband has worked as a teacher or specialist for our school district for the last 7 years so we know the ins and outs of public education funding. But seeing the hope and excitement in my daughters eyes, knowing she was going to be let down made me want to cry because a) I'm pregnant and everything makes me want to cry and b) I hate to see her experience disappointment and I know this is going to be a huge one.

Unrealistic expectations plague both children and adults. No one is immune. Hope is good and wonderful and serves us well. False hope, or unrequited hope is depressing and can cause anxiety. Failure is also good and wonderful, and it can teach us in ways that success cannot. But when we are faced with something too daunting for our age or physical ability it can wreak havoc on our psyche.

If you set your expectations too high, there’s obviously the risk of reality slapping you in the face This can potentially make you pessimistic and continually result in you having that kind of negative attitude toward any new venture you choose to pursue in life.

When setting goals and expectations, lets remember to:

Stay positive, yet realistic. Ask yourself if you are biting off more than you can chew, and if the undertaking is reasonable to ask yourself.

Make a plan, and make sure that plan is conducive to your lifestyle. Don't overwhelm yourself!

Stretch yourself and take reasonable risk, but remember baby steps are imperative to success. Telling yourself you are going to train for a marathon in a month without any experience is probably not the best approach, but if you set aside 15, then 20, then 30 minutes a day (and so forth) to go running you will gradually achieve your goal.

Remember something that is realistic for another person may not be realistic for you. I have a friend who reads 100 books a year and I set the same goal for myself. I could never reach it, and then I discovered that the average book length I read is around 375 pages while the average book length she reads is about 230 pages. She still reads much more than me, but I was attempting the impossible for where I am in life based on my own goals.

Be patient, and remember that life is a process. Patience is required for others, but also with ourselves! Give yourself a break!

1 comment:

P & J said...

Excellent post! I always feel bad our little people get put into these high pressure sales situations! But it can be a life lesson I suppose!