A Misunderstanding About Expectations
Something that is the cause of a lot of misunderstanding and disappointment is not meeting expectations. As humans we have wired into us a desire to be accepted by others. It’s normal, we’re social creatures and this adds a lot of enrichment to the quality of our lives. But it also can be a source of pain.
For that reason expectations are often thought of as a bad thing. If we didn’t have expectations then we wouldn’t fall short of them and create social confrontation because of it. But expectations are an incredible influence and motivator to go beyond what is standard. Expectations help provide clarity about what you’re hoping to accomplish, how well you’re hoping to perform, and it pulls you to meet the task at that level.
However, that’s when you are living by fair expectations that you decide for yourself. So with that in mind I want to share three examples of how your expectations can be biased, or catering to something else that doesn’t originate authentically inside of you.
The first example is expectations imposed by others. This is someone projecting their belief system, values, and choices onto you. It could come from a place of love or it could be a subconscious result of insecurity, but in either case it comes through their lens on the world. Their perspective is not your perspective, and those expectations deserve to be questioned.
Another form of expectation is an outcome. The vast majority of outcomes are out of your control, and if you get your sense of self too wrapped up in something that you can’t control, then you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. That’s where it’s important to be process-oriented and to celebrate the things you’re doing, the ways you’ve learned to improve your process, rather than the end result.
And then last is how expectations change with accomplishment. In fact, expectations are the shadows of accomplishment. Our culture pushes a narrative that you constantly should be striving for more. When you succeed and you prove you’re capable of more, then the bar gets raised. This is a good thing if it’s what you want, but it’s a bad thing if it forces you to compromise other priorities in order to live up to new expectations.
So as with everything, be intentional. Determine what expectations are appropriate for your life - Who you want to be, what you want to accomplish, where you’re headed. But still use them as a tool as they can become an incredible North Star for you as you build the life you desire.
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