Oh, those expectations. They’ll let us down every time. Whether we have low or high expectations for any given situation, we’re creating standards or ideals about what will, won’t, or might happen—before it’s even happened! And sometimes our expectations are even about how someone else might react or what someone else might do or say. Managing expectations is so vital to our growth as an individual!
What do you expect?
Think about it … when you go to the grocery store, you expect there to be bananas when you want to make fruit salad. How do you react when the produce section doesn’t have what you need? When you plan a trip to the beach, you expect the weather to be warm and sunny … but what happens when it rains? How do you react? Do you place blame on others or the situation? Many of us are likely guilty of blaming both.
There are multiple types of expectations. High expectations, low expectations, expectations of ourselves, and of others. Some expectations are completely healthy, right? It’s good to expect things of ourselves; it allows us to create and work toward our goals.
However, when we start expecting things of others, or of situations we have no control over, it can cause added (and unnecessary!) anxiety and stress. Managing those expectations can help you overcome your own feelings of uncertainty when it comes to situations out of your control, and can strengthen your relationships with others.
Changing your mindset and managing your expectations
Here are a few ways to start changing your mindset and managing your own expectations:
This is a big one, especially when it comes to your expectations of others. If you’re thinking a situation should go one way, but the other person has a completely different outlook, someone is going to end up disappointed, and it’s a 50/50 shot that it’s going to be you. The best thing you can do is share with the people around you what you expect from them, or a given situation. It might feel like you’re over-communicating, but sometimes we forget that much of the conversations we have with ourselves aren’t heard by anyone else … until we say them out loud!
Need a little help with this? Head over and read our blog post about Improving Your Conversation Skills!
Plan for the worst, hope for the best.
If you expect that something might not go as planned, you can be ready for it! Think about the options and outcomes of a situation before they happen. You’ll be less likely to have a negative reaction, and be more likely to have a clear head to work through whatever the issue may be.
Understand expectations of others.
When you know where someone else is coming from, and understand who they are, it will bring your own expectations into check. Do you need to adjust your own thinking? Or maybe there needs to be a conversation to discuss the matter? Either way, putting yourself in someone else’s shoes will help you have a better understanding of just about any situation!
Looking for ways to be more empathetic? Try these exercises in your everyday interactions!
Be nicer to yourself.
Just like we expect things of others, often we expect the most from ourselves. It’s time to give yourself some grace! If you’re struggling or questioning where you’re at, ask yourself one big question: Would I expect these same results from anyone else? Are they realistic? If not, adjust and move forward!
(See step above.) When we have goals, ambitions, or plans, we want them … right now. Realizing that time is necessary to reach expectations, make sure you plan the time it will take for any given situation accordingly. If we expect to have instant gratification, it takes away from all the goals and situations that DON’T respond instantaneously and you could be missing out on something amazing!
Practice makes ... more practice.
These few “practices” require exactly that … practice. Changing your mindset from one where you feel mostly in control is definitely easier than recognizing that your responsibility is to your own actions and feelings. However, taking the initiative to engage with others about their own expectations, planning for adventure and changes to your direction or plan, creating realistic goals and expectations, and allowing for the process of achieving these will take you far further than simply wanting to feel in control.
Give it a try, you might find you have a lot more to gain than you thought.
We want to hear from you! How do you manage your own expectations of yourself or others?
Share with us in the comments below!