Expectations are part of our nature. They empower you to shape your future. When you expect good things from yourself, act on those expectations and achieve them, then you have reason to feel a sense of accomplishment.
A person with unrealistic expectations for themselves can end up never feeling satisfied with any achievement, no matter how magnificent. Instead, they always feel a sense of not being enough. This may be in relation to feeling responsible for things they have no control over, such as saving the planet, reversing global warming or changing the political tides of a nation, or it may be in relation to a personal sense of unworthiness, so that no matter what they achieve, it is never enough because they feel as if they are not enough. These kinds of expectations are often established at an early age in a person's life, and it takes thoughtful reflection to understand how to set more realistic expectations for oneself.
Another source of unrealistic expectations can come from life’s stages. As your life circumstances change and as you age, your capacities change. One of the skills a person who successfully ages or adapts with resiliency to changes in life's circumstances is the ability to change their expectations.
Aging is one of the most obvious reasons for changing expectations. Changes in the physical body necessitate a change in expectations.. A thirty-year-old marathon runner cannot expect their seventy or eighty-year-old body to run 42.2 kilometers. However, changing their expectations may give them a similar sense of accomplishment from walking a few miles a day. Changing expectations for productivity may mean letting go of an aspiration of a career milestone and, instead, focusing on sharing knowledge through mentorship, writing and other ways of creating a legacy. As a person ages, they can change their expectations of their mental acuity by focusing on learning new things instead of worrying about memory loss (however, one should always consult a doctor when losing memory, as it may be treatable). This manner of changing expectations is not settling for less. It involves understanding and appreciating what you can do, and finding pleasure in your accomplishments based on that realistic awareness.
Loss also calls for change in expectations. A natural inclination when faced with loss is to try to replace what it is you have lost. For example, a person who loses a job will have a natural inclination to seek the same or a higher position, and a person who loses a partner may seek someone who is just like their last beloved. Understanding this inclination can help you view loss in a different way. A loss of a job, a relationship, or an investment can be a time to reflect on the choices in your life, and your life's path, and see if a change in your career, orientation or preoccupations would bring you more happiness.
Posts written by the People of the Happiness Alliance & our Friends.