Manage Your Expectations … and raise the bar on your quality of life!
by: Edward B. Toupin
When I was a newbie in ‘the game of life,’ I wanted to succeed beyond my wildest dreams. I wanted to make it big and take on the world, all at once. My expectations were so high that not even Jack could reach them on his beanstalk. However, over time, after much frustration and burn out, I shifted to the other extreme by dropping my expectations, and dreams.
The idea of lowering our expectations is a contradiction to the ‘parental voices’ that tells us that we should ‘reach for the stars,’ ‘raise our expectations,’ and ‘shoot for the moon.’ In theory, these are excellent ideals when chasing a dream. But, without some control, such ideals can burn you out, create frustration, and literally destroy your drive to attain any goals, lofty or otherwise. We’ve all either been there, or are there.
If you feel like you’ve run into a wall, or bumped your head on the ceiling, your expectations of what should be are probably forcing you to take ‘too big of a bite.’ But, don’t necessarily lower your expectations. Try managing your expectations to keep your dreams alive and continue your pursuit at a reasonable pace. Again, it seems like a contradiction to what we’ve all heard at one time or another. But, actually, there is a way to keep your ultimate goal in sight, while managing your expectations, so that you can keep your sanity and still achieve success in life.
— Look at it! —-
Evel Knievel jumps canyons on various wonder-bikes, for fun! But, don’t think he just hopped on his bike one day and jumped over the Grand Canyon. Consider that he developed his skills over time to execute his lifetime of phenomenal jumps. But, if he had taken the jumps without building up to them, fear and inexperience would have destroyed the stunts. He had to start with small jumps to gain confidence until, eventually, he was able to make his jumps without hesitation.
High expectations can place you in a position of trying to jump your own canyons right out of the gate. Too many failed attempts can lead you to frustration and eventually, complete surrender of your goals. However, if such an attempt should succeed, it could land you in a situation that, while it looked good from a distance, might not be the place where you wanted to land.
— Break it down! —
Before you go too far on that jump across that canyon, make sure that you know exactly where you want to land. It is imperative that you define exactly what it is that you ultimately want in your life. Once you know what you want, break the process to reach this ‘vision’ down into reasonable steps.
Instead of trying to jump the canyon immediately, try jumping a puddle to see if you can do it with confidence. Once you manage the puddle, take what you’ve learned, put it behind you, and go for something just outside of your comfort zone … perhaps a ditch. Such steps allow you to take on smaller pieces of the whole so that you can set reachable goals on the way to your vision.
— Changing directions! —
Not only is this ‘stepping stone’ approach to attaining lofty goals and managing high expectations effective in moving you in the right direction, but you might also find that, the destination is something that you didn’t ‘expect.’
Here is the key—‘did not expect.’ High expectations set on a vision that is ‘unknown’ can lead you sometimes place you further away from your vision then when you started. We see where we want to go, want so badly to get there, but have no idea what it takes or what it is that we’re pursuing. Even though the vision might be reasonable, it is the perception that we have of the vision that adds unnecessary stress to our daily lives in our pursuit of that vision.
If we take small steps to reach our vision, we can adjust our path along the way. As we move toward and learn more of our ultimate destination, we might find that we don’t want the original vision. We learn that we might instead want the objective about 30 degrees off of our original. By moving along, one goal at a time, we are able to adjust to ensure that we land were we want to on the other side of our canyon.
— Reapplying the expectations! —
We all develop a certain perspective of things based on the way that we’ve been raised, the experiences that we’ve encountered, and the successes or failures that we’ve had in our lives. Based on our perspective, we develop extraordinarily high expectations of things when we’re not sure of the results of our plight or goals in life. These expectations are built up to cover the doubts that we might have about the goal.
Realize that things are what they are, regardless of our perception. But, by accepting things as they are, and not what you would wish them to be, it makes it much easier to maneuver yourself in the direction you want to go. We must sometimes readjust our perspectives, our values and belief systems, to gain some control in our lives and obtain a clearer view of our paths.
— What’s next? —
By taking on small pieces of the whole, we can easily adjust our path along the way. In this way, we must research our goals so that we can understand where we’re going. In breaking up the path into the smaller goals required to reach our vision, our expectations for our vision become clearer and less imperative. By managing our goals in this way, we automatically manage our expectations because we only have expectations of the immediate goal leading us in the direction of our ultimate vision.
Establish a new plan based on the individual components of your overall vision. Try moving forward with this new plan and see what happens. See how the newly managed goals and expectations work in your life and how you feel as you accomplish the smaller goals on the way to your vision.
Not only will managing your expectations provide you with a more solid path to reach your vision, but it will also enhance your quality of life. Instead of being stressed, frustrated, and disappointed, you can now feel good about your forward momentum in your own life because you will know where you’re going and be able to handle the journey.
About The Author
Edward B. Toupin is a published author, technical writer, web developer, coach, and producer living in “The Entertainment Capital of the World,” Las Vegas, NV. One of his primary objectives in his work is to provide information to help others achieve fulfilling lives. Visit his site at http://encouragement.netfirms.com and http://www.toupin.com or contact him at [email protected] or [email protected] for more information.