Expectations - do they help or hinder?


Every day we carry around a mountain of expectations with us.

Some of these expectations come from others, people like your boss, husband, partner, your kids, parents, in-laws, teachers, friends, colleagues.....etc, etc. Often when we are faced with these expectations we are pretty discerning about choosing which ones to take onboard and which ones go in the 'ridiculous' pile. For example, just yesterday, my 2 year old expected me to allow her to cut her own hair with sharp scissors -  clearly one for the ridiculous pile! 

The other set of expectations we carry around often weigh much more heavier on us. 

These are the expectations that we put on ourselves. These expectations we don't often sift through and choose if they are helpful or not. We just carry them around.

These are the 'should's' that we quietly whisper to ourselves. 'I should be able to pack a perfect lunch for the kids every day', 'I should be able to be able to sleep for only 4 hours and still look amazing all day', 'I should not let the pressures of work get to me', 'I should be able to handle this.........', and a whole raft of other ones. I'm sure you've got a few more you could add. 

The reality is that expectations are not a bad thing. Having expectations of ourselves can be motivating, they can be the thing that drive us to push further, strive harder, achieve greater. The point to be careful around is when expectations come from a place of trying to be perfect. The reality is this is unachievable and you are only setting yourself up for guilt. 

There is no such thing as a perfect employee, there is no such thing as a perfect business strategy, there is no such thing as a perfect parent/friend/family member.  

The key to knowing what expectations to keep and which ones to discard into the 'ridiculous' pile is tuning into how they make you feel. If the expectations leave you motivated, focused, driven then they are helpful, if they leave you feeling guilty, drained, 'less-than' then get rid of them, or reframe them. 

Analyse the role of expectations by asking yourself the following three questions: 

  1. What expectations are you carrying around today?
  2. Where have these expectations come from?
  3. Do they energise you and focus your activity, or do they drain you and leave you procrastinating? 

Perfectly good enough is not only okay is the new perfect!