Expectations are the ultimate killer. And they get you in all different ways, especially when you set them yourself, and you don’t even know they’re the culprit. 

You could lose 45 pounds and still feel like you’ve failed yourself by not losing a full 50 pounds. It sounds absurd if you say it out loud, but tell me you haven’t felt that way at some point, where you were so close and yet judged yourself for the smallest gap. We all have, about one thing or another.

(And while we’re at it, here’s a friendly reminder for those of you with New Year’s resolutions around weight loss: weight is not an accurate measurement of health.)

Expectations are usually narrowly focused and thereby exclusive of the larger picture — and the nuances of the fact that those last five pounds are often pure muscle, not fat. 

But it’s not just about our bodies.

When we have expectations for others in our lives, more often than not, those expectations go unstated. We have expectations of our spouses, kids, boss, etc. but because those expectations are  all in our head, the people they’re aimed at are  playing a game for which they don’t know the rules. 

When the people in our lives aren’t living up to our expectations, it’s easy to vent our frustration, saying, “But that’s common sense! It’s pure human consideration to do these things I expect or not do these things. Why do I have to tell them?”

But that’s the insidious thing about those unspoken, implicit expectations. They’re often not realistic. We expect them to have common sense, but as Voltaire taught us, “common sense is not so common.” It’s completely relative. 

When we think about our expectations for ourselves — and the people around us who affect our satisfaction with ourselves or our ability to achieve the things we want to — it gets to be a complicated mess.

Screw weight. Screw drinking less. Screw the limiting, crippling expectations. There’s a better way to live a better life. 

Strive to play the long game and honor where you are.

Then, when you’re inevitably feeling less-than, have the awareness to stop-start-keep (this is as helpful for your personal life as it is for your professional life, by the way). Analyze and assess

Ask yourself good questions. Are you wrapped up in unrealistic, undefined, unclear expectations? Is that the real burden? Are you laying upon yourself the expectations you think others have for or about you? If so, you can do something about that.

An asteroid flying toward earth? Can’t do anything about it. Short of that, we have a lot of control over our lives (especially those of us with privilege). 

So revisit your expectations (for yourself and others), keep only what serves you, and make sure you share those expectations out loud (and not just kept hidden in your head). Play the long game, and try to always maintain perspective: you have a ridiculous amount of say in the trajectory of your life if you have the self-awareness and clarity of purpose to stay out of your own way.


Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash