How to Manage Expectations

Life is full of expectations.  When our expectations don’t meet reality, we often face negative emotions.  When our expectations cause worry about the future, we feel anxious, instead of content in the present.  A lot of people feel anxious about the work week ahead on Sundays, so they feel sad and dread Monday mornings.  Personally, I find that I have low expectations for Monday as a result of these Sunday night blues, and almost every Monday, I leave work feeling that it was a good day.  Do I leave feeling it was a good day because I expected it to be a tough day?  Perhaps!  Although, I’m certainly not advocating for always entering situations with low expectations, so that you feel happier when things go better than expected.  To me, that sounds like a depressing way to go through life. 

In relationships, differing expectations lead to tension and fights.  For example, if I expect my husband to come home at a certain time in the evening, but I don’t communicate that with him and he doesn’t communicate with me when he’ll be home, then I will likely feel annoyed, angry, or upset if he doesn’t come home at the expected time.  Instead of creating expectations in situations like this, both of us try to communicate as best we can as soon as we can to prevent the other person from developing expectations that may not be met. Usually my husband will give me a heads up if he thinks he will need to stay on campus late to study.  If he doesn’t, I will ask him what time he predicts he will be home.  In any type of relationship, it is important to communicate openly and honestly about your needs and desires.

The key to managing expectations is to accept your present reality, become aware of expectations you have, and reduce unnecessary expectations.  I have been accepting of my present reality of acclimating to a new place.  I have tried to avoid creating expectations about how and when I would make friends, when we would find a house, etc.  I try to take each day by day with hopes and goals for the future, but no expectations or unnecessary deadlines.  I know this may seem to contradict my previous post about making lists to set goals, but there are certain times when to-do lists with deadlines cause unnecessary pressure. 

“You are your own worst enemy.  If you can learn to stop expecting impossible perfection, in yourself and others, you may find the happiness that has always eluded you.” – Lisa Kleypas

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