I had a great conversation earlier today with a friend about expectations and how we manage them. This is something I have been working on for a while now, but I’ve kicked it into overdrive in the past few months since I stopped working full time (and stopped having to be on the go constantly).

Back in the day I was the Queen of Expectations–wait, maybe High Priestess of Expectations–both in regards to myself and others. I was raised with high expectations and believed that keeping the bar waaaaaaay up there was important when it came to being successful, being happy, and getting things done.

Well, I was wrong…and I’m fine with that. It’s one more lesson that can be added to the list of what I’ve learned this year. Trying to do everything and be everything and expect things of others who aren’t under my control in the first place are all really just ways to make me even more stressed than I am naturally.

I’m working on it. I haven’t made a real to-do list in months, and when I’m at home (read: not traveling), I’m truly happy and feeling accomplished if I get two or three things done rather than fifteen or twenty. When I make mistakes, I own up to them like I always have and I’m working on not beating myself up about them for days like I used to (work in progress!). And as far as my expectations of others go? I can’t worry about them. When I feel disappointed about something that isn’t under my own control, I repeat to myself that it’s not my problem, it’s not personal, I shouldn’t worry about them–anything that will quiet my mind so I can move on to MY next thing.

There are tons of articles out there, like this one and this one and this one, but let me just summarize some of their main ideas for you:

  1. “Happiness depends not on how well things are going but whether things are going better or worse than expected.” (Author and neuroscientist Robb Rutledge)
  2. “Remember that everyone is doing the best they can and nobody is setting out to fail you. When you start to think like that, things get a lot easier.” (Psychologist Emma Kenny)
  3. “Just because events cause me pain or aren’t what I expected or wanted, that doesn’t mean that whatever’s happening isn’t in my highest good or can’t turn out OK or for the best even in the end.” (Life Coach Debbie Hampton)

Just like everything else in life, managing expectations is good when you can have some balance in there. I haven’t let go of my expectations entirely, but working on lowering the bar (and shrugging my shoulders a lot more often) has made me so much happier and I intend to keep it going as long as I possibly can. An added bonus: guess what? My family and friends still love me just the way I am. Shew!