Why Expectations May Be Killing Your Growth
Are Expectations Causing You To Live A Limited Life?
I have an interesting relationship with expectations. On one hand, I have expectations of myself that are quite helpful and keep me focused on my goals. The people I love have expectations of me as well.
As an entrepreneur, my audience and my clients have certain expectations, which they should.
However, I’ve come to find out that expectations can be detrimental to growth as well and come at a high cost.
Let me explain.
When you’re married, it’s natural to have expectations of each other in many areas of your life. However, what I noticed over time was that I had certain wants and desires from my wife (not those kind sicko) and would get bothered when they weren’t met. It was like she failed me again and again.
I will admit, I am 3 billion percent certain I’ve failed her more than she’s failed me over the course of our marriage.
Back to the point…
She was failing miserably because she didn’t have a clue what my expectations of her were, so there was no chance she’d ever get them right.
Additionally, who told me I should expect those things from her in the first place?
Just because they were my desires didn’t mean she automatically had to fulfill them or worse have to be accountable to delivering them without even having a clue they exist.
The result of having these expectations were constant disagreements and frustration on both sides.
That is, until I discovered that it was much healthier for our marriage and overall relationship if I didn’t expect a thing from her and just be thankful for the things she already did.
You see, when I didn’t expect her to be the go to person to drop off and pick up my son from his school events, make dinner or do laundry there was no reason to be upset if it didn’t happen.
(By the way, these are just examples and I usually do laundry so don’t judge me)
Since I didn’t expect them, it didn’t matter if they weren’t done, which brought more peace in our home and family.
There would be times where she felt guilty for not cooking and I would tell her “don’t worry about it, we weren’t expecting you to cook, we can just find something to eat in the fridge”.
Oh, what a relief that was for her and it actually released her of an obligation she only thought she had since I never even expected it from her.
As a result of “releasing” many expectations at home, there was more peace, freedom and appreciation within our family since we would be thankful when things happened as opposed to disappointed when they didn’t.
There’s an incredibly high cost of expectations towards yourself.
Expectations are great to keep you moving forward, but some will actually send you packing towards your past.
If you set unreasonable expectations for yourself, it’s easy to miss them time and time again forming a mental and emotional pattern of failure and disappointment.
The thing is, some of the expectations you have for yourself are umrealistic.
Some of them come from your upbringing when people projected their ideals on you. Others are from a time in the past that no longer has anything to do with your present.
Still others you adopted from looking at others’ lifestyle or business and it seems like you hold yourself to their standard without realizing it.
I know because that’s what I’ve done many times.
I looked at someone who had an amazing business. I’d say to myself, “I’d love my business to look like that.”
When I didn’t quite make it happen, I would mentally beat myself up.
When I finally accomplish those very things, they were unsatisfying because I realized that it wasn’t what I wanted at all. I had placed expectations on myself to get to where “they” were and yet I never thought thoroughly if that’s where “I” actually wanted to be.
So what do you do then? How do you create healthy expectations and remove the ones getting in the way of your growth (in life, your relationships and your business)?
3 Steps To Setting Healthy Expectations
Wherever there are expectations in your life right now, take some time to analyze how valuable and necessary they really are. You can do this by running them through this quick filter.
- Release – there are expectations that you and others have put on you that are not in alignment with who or what you are, and what you’re willing to do. In those cases, the best course of action is to simply release yourself of them completely, setting yourself free of having to comply and communicating to others that you aren’t able to commit to it moving forward.
- Renegotiate – some expectations have already been agreed upon by you or both parties. If they’ve become burdensome, simply do your best to find favorable terms for all parties without having to create unhealthy agreements. Perhaps there’s a tradeoff of something you used to do for something you can do instead.
- Recommit – some expectations may not be mandatory but definitely necessary. They may be there to safeguard relationships or to keep you focused on your goals. They are healthy commitments but you simply haven’t followed through on them. As you release and renegotiate many expectations, recommit to following through on the ones that matter to you, your family, and your clients.
Not all expectations are bad. Many are good. However, if you aren’t mindful of them, they may get out of control and keep you from living your life to the fullest.
Keep expectations of yourself realistic and make sure they are really what you want, not influenced by what others say or do.
As far as your expectations of others or their expectations of you, communication is key.
You can’t have expectations unless they’ve been communicated.