We all have expectations in life and those will change with added experiences and by learning more. Well, hopefully that is the case. However, some people may not be aware of what they expect at all. Their thoughts go from one to the next without much attentiveness, as well as their core beliefs may reside in the subconscious mind. In order to find out if our expectations are reasonable or not, we must first learn how to become more alert to our daily thoughts and seemingly concealed core beliefs. What type of “core beliefs” am I referring to? Your underlying beliefs can help tell you exactly where you are, before evaluating expectations.
For example, when I struggled daily with a work/life balance, I started reading self-help books and other materials, which sparked a sudden awareness of my thoughts. Once I became more wakeful to my passing contemplations, I finally caught on to those core beliefs that were the problem all along. I didn’t think anything I did was good enough and I looked to my work life to validate me as a person. Because of the “I’m not good enough” mentality, I consistently set high expectations for myself in every area of life, but could never meet them all. I would pile too many activities on my plate, as I told myself “You have to get everything done”. The depressing feelings that would ensue prompted my negative self-talk, which began, as “You have no idea what you are doing “and” What is wrong with me?” and later manifested into worse deliberation.
As you can see, our expectations are clearly related to all areas of life and to our core beliefs. One of the first questions to ask yourself when thinking of a particular circumstance is: “What am I expecting from myself in this situation? What am I expecting from others?” This simple, yet revealing question will greatly aid you on your journey.
Those who place high expectations on themselves, whether at work or in another aspect of life, are often seeking the approval of others through whatever they are doing. Others may believe that by exceeding their own expectations, they are happier overall. Or, someone with a fear-based core belief (similar to my example of not being good enough) subconsciously sets the bar so high that they are sabotaging themselves, only to reaffirm the negative principle, which led them to unreasonable expectations in the first place. The human psyche is very complex and clever, so that many times, we trick ourselves. We have to become more aware of our thoughts, beliefs and motivations in order to ask ourselves the right questions.
Now, it is time to consider your every day expectations. How will you know if your anticipations are realistic or not? Here are a few questions to ask in order to detect possible signs of unreasonable expectations:
- Do you wake up every morning afraid you won’t be able to accomplish everything you have scheduled for the workday? Or that you may not meet all the deadlines? Someone who fights this feeling constantly is not being realistic with the current workload, whether with themselves or with the boss as well.
- Do you often tell yourself “I’ve got to figure this out myself” or “no asking anyone for help”? Those who seldom seek outside assistance, whether merely asking a question, or requesting participation on a project, will place unnecessary pressure on themselves. It always lessens the burden to ask for help.
- Despite the position, do you constantly feel unhappy and unfulfilled with work? If so, then you may be expecting too much from your job in general. It may be time to reevaluate what your true interests and passions are, whether that ends up becoming your job or not. People who are pursuing their dreams, interests and passions are happier than those who are not.
After reviewing your current state of expectations, take time to reflect on the following excerpt. In the book, Fearless Living by Rhonda Britten, she talks about intentions in the sixth chapter (p. 166) on “No Expectations”:
When you live with intention, your primary focus is the process rather than the end result. Expectation-driven people go for the goal no matter what…the achievement of the goal becomes the priority because they think that determines their value and worth.