Ever feel let down by your expectations? Find out why they don’t have to be bad if you have the right perspective.
Ahh expectations. The ever so charming notion that good things are just beyond the horizon, after intricate planning or on the next date.
And it’s a great thing, to wish and hope for good things. To look forward to the best possible scenario. Not just for ourselves but for our spouse or family members as well.
Have you ever noticed what happens when your expectations aren’t met? Of course, who hasn’t right? It’s not a fun feeling, and often hard to accept when things turn out different than anticipated.
Expectation will steal your enthusiasm and joy
The truth is, we are wired for expectation. We just can’t help it, it’s usually happening in our subconscious before we’re even aware of it. You take out the trash all week and you would love it if someone else in the household would do it just once.
You want someone to do things for you the way you would for them. Not all the time, in every situation, but just sometimes at least. Over time though, you’re going to start feeling burned out. You’re going to find it harder to have joy in doing the everyday and in your overall life.
Here’s why expectations will kill your enthusiasm and what you can do about it:
- You expect fast results.
This happens every year when people set New Year’s resolutions. They want to lose weight, they want to budget their finances or become more productive. But before long they have lost all momentum.
Because they expect for changes to be visible quicker than is possible. This can only result in a downward spiral and before you know it the healthy eating or saving money for an upcoming project have taken a backseat in your life.
It’s time to change your perspective.
Instead of expecting fast results, set different expectations that involve you, not the outcome directly.
Rather than being focused on when the weight will come off or when you’ll have enough money saved up to redo your flooring, focus on exercising 15 minutes every day of the week. Focus on spending less time at shopping outlets where you know spending might be a temptation.
Don’t think of the weight or how nothing seems to be changing, just think of those 15 minutes of exercise and do it.
Focus on making uncomplicated healthy meals. You can’t expect healthy eating to just magically happen overnight.
You have to make the conscious effort to buy healthier ingredients and plan to use them in your meals.
Focus on other unfinished projects around the house that can keep you busy while you’re in the season of saving money. It takes planning and being intentional, so if you keep yourself busy with a project that’s been laying around and doesn’t require any spending, devote time to that.
You will feel more in control of your progress if you break it down into smaller chunks. You’re placing healthy expectations on yourself, and that can only increase your momentum going forward.
2. It will cause unnecessary hurt.
Are you big into birthdays? Not for yourself?
Have you ever wondered why so many people claim they don’t like celebrating their birthdays or having attention brought to it?
For some people, it may have something to do with former expectations being crushed. I’m big into birthdays, both for others and my own (the latter sounds so conceited but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with getting excited about your own special day. I don’t do like a whole month-long-birthday thing – I’m not judging if you do that – but I do enjoy getting a little pampered and being acknowledged on that day).
I love getting birthday messages and I love throwing birthday parties for friends and family – I put on a surprise 50th birthday for my mom with my siblings and a surprise party for my husband (who was still my boyfriend at the time).
However, when those I consider close friends have forgotten my birthday, it has caused me sadness. It made me feel like I’m not worthy to be remembered and celebrated as a friend, even with a little happy birthday message. As sappy as it sounds, for some people this means a lot, but you have to learn that it’s okay if people forget because we are all in our own world, living our lives as best we can.
Appreciate where you’re at in your journey.
I realized that not everyone places the same value on birthdays and birthday messages. What may be super important to me may not be all that important to someone else. Maybe birthdays just bring bad memories in general for some people.
While I find value and worth in remembering and sending birthday messages, for some it’s just a text message, it doesn’t hold the same high value.
Letting go of my expectation that it holds the same value for everyone has really helped me. The truth is, we all place value and importance on different things at different levels and that’s okay.
This perspective kept away the unnecessary hurt and hasn’t taken away my enthusiasm for birthday celebrations, both for myself and for others.
3. It will lead to discouragement.
Expectations and the resulting disappointment have a way of creeping up on us. Maybe the date didn’t go as planned, or the new dessert you were trying out didn’t turn out as nicely as the recipe you followed.
When I experience a baking or cooking failure, I’ve often let it get to me.
I guilt trip myself because truthfully, I’m not in love with cooking, thinking it was my fault to begin with. “If I only loved to cook this wouldn’t have happened.” The expectation that I should love to cook intermingling with failure, it just brought on major discouragement.
Live up to your own expectations realistically.
Once I realized I was being unrealistic, I became encouraged to create the dish again.
It wasn’t about whether I enjoyed cooking or not, whether that made me a “lesser” housewife (which it doesn’t – just because you’re a woman doesn’t mean you have to love everything or do everything that society says – or, again, “expects” you should).
It was about trying again, knowing that failures aren’t failures unless you stop trying. I shouldn’t expect myself to be a perfect cook. Instead, I learned to focus on improving and becoming better and that has increased my enthusiasm for cooking meals for my family.
4. It will grab your present.
Instead of being in awe and grateful, expectations cause us to look into what is missing, what went wrong.
It is the opposite of appreciation.
It will have a significant impact on your day to day life. We know life isn’t perfect, and none of us expect it to be.
In certain situations, expectations are not a bad thing. They can even keep us accountable to ourselves and those around us.
Yet there is still a lot of emphasis placed on having things go our way, even if we wouldn’t say it. It again comes down to being wired into us. And we have to fight against it. As Shawn Lantz puts it, “Expectations are tomorrow’s resentments.”
Allow yourself to live in the moment.
Rather than gauging how you hope things will turn out, focus on making the current moment the best it can be. You can’t control other people or their situations, neither can you control your tomorrow.
But you can always encourage those around you and make today the best it can be.
You can always practice gratitude, learning to be thankful for where you’re at. It will help you feel in awe rather than feeling like you’re owed something.
There is beauty in the every day
Expectations can knock you down. The flooring fund just seems so far out of reach, that date was a total disaster. But if you find new ways to look at your situations and the people and relationships around you, it can make a world of difference in your life.
- Find ways to change your perspective
- Appreciate where you’re at
- Live up to your own expectations
- Live in the moment
You’ll find that applying these tips with intent will bring about a sense of gratitude, which is the ultimate remedy for unmet expectations and the resulting disappointment.
It will give you a whole new outlook on life and you will feel less stressed. Rather than your enthusiasm and momentum diminishing, it will be able to flourish because of this new way of thinking.
This new perspective.
Perhaps expectations really are not the bad guy after all.