A friend asked me the other day if my expectations were too high. I had commented that my time was valuable, and when people promised to meet me at a specific time and failed to keep their commitment, it would frustrate me. Usually, I would allow this behavior to happen a couple of times as a courtesy to them, and, if I am being honest, it’s also because I want to see them or do whatever we had planned. Once this becomes a habit, I readjust my expectations of this person and no longer plan things with them or assume what they tell me will likely not be the case. My expectations are low, but do they feel they are?

I call this setting my boundaries. I am busy and like to schedule my time. I am reliable, and when I promise someone I will meet them or do something with them or for them, I am on time and ready to go. I expect the same in return. That shouldn’t be too much to ask. It may seem challenging, but it’s simple. You don’t over-promise yourself, and you communicate along the way. People promise things because they don’t want to say no or seem inconsiderate. Letting someone wait on you is worse than being upfront.

Let’s look at expectations in a work environment. Sally expects her coworker to do everything as she would, make no mistakes, and work at a speed she has perfected. When Sally’s team member does not meet her expectations, she gets upset and believes her coworker is incompetent. Is Sally’s coworker doing the work to the best of her ability? Should Sally’s expectations be lowered? Should the training be improved? Could the problem be poor communication?

Do we place expectations on our children? Did our parents and society condition us to expect certain things from our kids, creating a vicious cycle of pressure that doesn’t need to be there? Can we impart lessons and wisdom to our children and allow them to use this knowledge to the best of their ability without the pressure of rising to a standard we set for them? 

Do we place expectations on ourselves and others that are too high, unreachable, and cause stress and anxiety? If so, why? Are they creating an unhealthy environment in which to live and thrive? If the expectations work for you and help you accomplish things, they are probably healthy expectations. On the other hand, if you never meet your objectives, are unhappy with life, and constantly feel like you aren’t good enough, then you may have set yourself up to fail. 

It may be time to take a step back and do a reset. Change up what isn’t working and start over. Make every day count.

By Lisa C

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