”Setting Realistic Expectations for Yourself”


”When you have expectations, you are setting yourself up for disappointment.”

Ryan Reynolds

Expectations—we all have them from a very early age, yet many of us don’t learn how to set and manage them, if at all, until well into adulthood.

From the child whose birthday wishes are never quite fulfilled, to the spouse who always feels as if he/she is the one who’s giving more, to the manager whose team never seems to get it quite right—the expectations we set for ourselves and those around us have the power to influence our success and satisfaction in life.

Because expectations have such far-reaching, powerful consequences in every area of your life, I’m excited to share with you some of the best advice I’ve ever learned when it comes to setting proper expectations for yourself, those around you, and those you lead.


Consequences of Unmet Expectations :-

When we set false or unrealistic expectations, we put ourselves at risk for a host of unwanted outcomes ranging from perpetual frustration and disillusionment to damaged relationships. Even worse, the negative experiences of unmet expectations are a serious drain on our motivation and often lead to a spiral of negative thinking. Here are a few common examples of self-talk that illustrate this point:


Three Categories of Expectations

You can begin to set proper expectations—those that are appropriate and realistic—when you recognize that there are three main categories of expectations.


Expectations you set for yourself:-

You know what you are capable of, but be careful about setting goals or expectations for yourself that are unrealistic. There is a fine line between pushing yourself to do better and setting yourself up for failure. It’s important to find that line so that you don’t limit your own accomplishments or, at the other end of the spectrum, end up feeling depressed and unfulfilled.

One effective way of finding the right balance is to keep in mind that expectations should be incremental. Change does not happen overnight, no matter how much you want it.

For example, if I am committed to remembering the names of people I meet at a networking event and only remember 2 out of 10 names, then setting a goal to remember 3 or 4 the next week is more realistic than expecting myself to remember 8 names.

As you explore the right increment for your personal growth, never lower your expectations to a level where you are no longer challenging yourself. The day you stop challenging yourself to become a better person is the day you begin falling back in life.


Expectations you set for your family, friends, and colleagues :-

Whether or not you are consciously aware of it, you react all the time to the outcome of expectations you set for those around you. In personal relationships, take care when considering what you expect of others.

Because every person is unique, no two people see things exactly the same way. Therefore, it’s simply not realistic to expect that people—even those closest to you—always know what’s in your heart and mind and are actively working toward meeting your expectations. When you start counting on others to meet your unspoken needs and desires, you set yourself up for grave heartache and disappointment.

In my personal life, I expect things from my family, friends, and business colleagues, but my expectations are realistic and appropriate to the relationship. Furthermore, to be fair and to avoid my own disappointment, I do my very best to consistently communicate those reasonable expectations.


 Expectations you set for those you lead :- 

You should obviously set expectations for your team, but it’s critical that they know, understand, and agree to the expectations you set for them. Expecting those you lead—whether it’s at home, at work, or in the community—to fulfill expectations you have not clearly communicated is a sure-fire recipe for disappointment and dysfunction.


Expectation Check Up:-

How do you know if the expectations you’re currently setting are appropriate? If you find yourself constantly disappointed in yourself and in others, you are likely setting expectations that are unrealistic or too high.

Will you commit to examining the expectations you have set for yourself and others?  Here are a few checkpoints to get you started.

  • What do expect of yourself? Are your expectations realistic and aligned with your goals? You should always strive for improvement, but make sure that it’s incremental and achievable.
  • How are your current expectations affecting your relationships with your spouse, friends, and co-workers? Don’t make a list of the things they should be doing to make you happy. Instead, make a list of the things you can do to make them happy. When you do, you’ll be amazed at the difference in your personal level of satisfaction.
  • Know that your expectations are not the same as everyone else’s. That’s normal! If you’re in a leadership position, don’t set expectations that have not been clearly communicated, no matter how basic they may be. Remember that Basketball Coaching Legend John Wooden started every season teaching his players how to put on their socks to avoid getting blisters!


If you set realistic expectations for yourself and those around you, you’ll avoid many of life’s blisters and enjoy happier, more fulfilling relationships.

”You Should Stop Expecting from Others”

“I’m not in this world to live up to your expectations
and you’re not in this world to live up to mine.”
―Bruce Lee

The biggest disappointments in our lives are often the result of misplaced expectations.  This is especially true when it comes to our relationships and interactions with others.

Tempering your expectations of other people will greatly reduce unnecessary frustration and suffering, in both your life and theirs, and help you refocus on the things that truly matter.

Which means it’s time to…


* Stop expecting them to agree with you:-

You deserve to be happy.  You deserve to live a life you are excited about.  Don’t let the opinions of others make you forget that.  You are not in this world to live up to the expectations of others, nor should you feel that others are here to live up to yours.  In fact, the more you approve of your own decisions in life, the less approval you need from everyone else.

You have to dare to be yourself, and follow your own intuition, however frightening or strange that may feel or prove to be.  Don’t compare yourself to others.  Don’t get discouraged by their progress or success.  Follow your own path and stay true to your own purpose.  Success is ultimately about spending your life happily in your own way.


* Stop expecting them to respect you more than you respect yourself:-

True strength is in the soul and spirit, not in muscles.  It’s about having faith and trust in who you are, and a willingness to act upon it.  Decide this minute to never again beg anyone for the love, respect, and attention that you should be showing yourself.

Today, look at yourself in the mirror and say, “I love you, and from now on I’m going to act like it.”  It’s important to be nice to others, but it’s even more important to be nice to yourself.  When you practice self-love and self-respect, you give yourself the opportunity to be happy.  When you are happy, you become a better friend, a better family member, and a better YOU.


*  Stop expecting (and needing) them to like you:-

You might feel unwanted and unworthy of one person, but you are priceless to another.  Don’t ever forget your worth.  Spend time with those who value you.  No matter how good you are to people, there will always be one negative person who criticizes you.  Smile, ignore them and carry on.

In this crazy world that’s trying to make you like everyone else, the toughest battle you’ll ever have to fight is the battle to be yourself.  And as you’re fighting back, not everyone will like you.  Sometimes people will call you names because you’re “different.”  But that’s perfectly OK.  The things that make you different are the things that make YOU, and the right people will love you for it.

* Stop expecting them to fit your idea of who they are:-


Loving and respecting others means allowing them to be themselves.  When you stop expecting people to be a certain way, you can begin to appreciate THEM.

Pay close attention, and respect people for who they are and not for who you want them to be.  We don’t know most people half as well as we believe we do, and truly knowing someone is a big part of what makes them wonderful.  Every human being is remarkable and beautiful; it just takes a patient set of eyes to see it.  The more you get to know someone, the more you will be able to look beyond their appearance and see the beauty of who they truly are.

* Stop expecting them to know what you’re thinking:-

People can’t read minds.  They will never know how you feel unless you tell them.  Your boss?  Yeah, he doesn’t know you’re hoping for a promotion because you haven’t told him yet.  That cute guy you haven’t talked to because you’re too shy?  Yeah, you guessed it, he hasn’t given you the time of day simply because you haven’t given him the time of day either.

In life, you have to communicate with others regularly and effectively.  And often, you have to open your vocal cords and speak the first words.  You have to tell people what you’re thinking.  It’s as simple as that.


* Stop expecting them to suddenly change:-

If there’s a specific behavior someone you care about has that you’re hoping disappears over time, it probably won’t.  If you really need them to change something, be honest and put all the cards on the table so this person knows how you feel and what you need them to do.

For the most part, though, you can’t change people and you shouldn’t try.  Either you accept who they are or you choose to live without them.  It’s might sound harsh, but it’s not.  When you try to change people, they often remain the same, but when you don’t try to change them – when you support them and allow them the freedom to be as they are – they gradually change in the most beautiful way.  Because what really changes is the way you see them.


* Stop expecting them to be “OK.”:-

Be kinder than necessary, for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle, just like you.  Every smile or sign of strength hides an inner struggle every bit as complex and extraordinary as your own.

Remember that embracing your light doesn’t mean ignoring your dark.  We are measured by our ability to overcome adversities and insecurities, not avoid them.  Supporting, sharing and making contributions to other people is one of life’s greatest rewards.  This happens naturally if we allow it because we all share very similar dreams, needs, and struggles.  Once we accept this, the world then is a place where we can look someone else in the eye and say, “I’m lost and struggling at the moment,” and they can nod and say, “Me too,” and that’s OK.  Because not being “OK” all the time, is perfectly OK.


* Afterthoughts:-


People rarely behave exactly the way you want them to.  Hope for the best, but expect less.  And remember, the magnitude of your happiness will be directly proportional to your thoughts and how you choose to think about things.  Even if a situation or relationship doesn’t work out at all, it’s still worth it if it made you feel something new, and if it taught you something new.

*Your turn…:-

What would you add to this post?  What do you need to stop expecting from others?  Leave a comment below and share your thoughts with the community.