How expectations can impact your life. Everyone has some expectations in life. Having expectations is essential because it will give you a sense of achievement and a purpose in life when you fulfill it. Without it, you will end up with a loss of direction and feeling aimless. However, some expectations can create unnecessary stresses, and ruin your relationship and your happiness.
HOW WE FORM EXPECTATIONS
Many factors can shape whether someone has high or low expectations.
Some people are naturally born with high expectations and others with low expectations.
Parenting plays a vital role in shaping a child’s expectations. Some parents guide their children to aim high and challenge them by stretching their children’s ability to achieve more. Whereas other parents might not have any or have low expectations of their children, with their children having low or no expectations in life.
3. Situation and conditions
In other cases, the situation and conditions you are in can also form your expectations, e.g. hardships can push someone to have a higher expectation because they want to improve their life circumstances. While others, who have an easy life and obtain things without any effort, may not have the drive to achieve more in life.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS AND THE DISADVANTAGES OF HAVING EXPECTATIONS IN LIFE?
As with anything, there are some benefits and disadvantages of having either very high or low/no expectations.
I. For those who have very high expectations
1. The benefit
Having high expectations will benefit someone to achieve many things. It can give them a great sense of achievement when they have completed their goals. This group of people will pursue self-improvement, and subsequently, they are prone to having high expectations of others too, which can be helpful for others to be challenged and to grow.
2. The disadvantage
However, the disadvantage of having too high of an expectation of yourself and others is that it can cause frustration, disappointment, stress, anger, discouragement, anxiety, resentment and a sense of failure. It can even discourage people from trying to achieve anything because of fear of failing. If you cannot reach your very high expectations, it will slowly impact your self-confidence.
3. Practical steps that you can take
If you feel frustrated, disappointed, upset, stressed, angry, anxious, a sense of failure, and discouraged even to try, then:
a. Is it realistic enough?
There is nothing wrong with having high expectations, but you need to ask yourself whether your expectations of yourself or others is realistic enough. Are you overestimating your capacity and ability? Is it appropriate for your children’s age? Is it causing too much stress rather than benefiting you?
b. Explore where your very high expectations stem from
Many do not realise that you often project your desire on others. For instance, you want your partner to become like your dad or mum, or you want your children to achieve what you missed out on when you were young or what you wish your parents had done for you.
c. Ask what your deepest fear is
Sometimes people have very high expectations based on their fear. Ask yourself what your deepest fear is. What is the worst thing that can happen if you or your significant others can’t fulfill it? Or are you just FOMO?
d. Lower your expectations
Lowering your expectations doesn’t mean you lower your good values. When you can let go of some of your high expectations, you and others will experience some sense of achievement, be happier and encouraged. In doing so, it will impact your and their confidence, which will most likely enable you/them to improve more and help in achieving your/their goals.
II. For those who have very low or no expectations
1. The benefit
Having low expectations will benefit you in being more relaxed and having a stress-free life. You will be more likely to be able to achieve your goals and experience a sense of achievement. Because you can fulfill your expectations, you can enjoy your life better, being in the moment, with no worries or anxieties.
2. The disadvantage
However, if your expectations are too low or non-existent, you may not have a clear life direction. As you don’t have goals to achieve, you will likely be easily distracted by other things or other people, and it will be hard to achieve anything. Because you don’t gain anything and because of your lack of life direction, this can lead you to feel aimless and lost, and potentially end up feeling depressed.
3. Practical steps you can take
If you are in this situation:
a. Set your goal
You need to look at what is your goal in life and what you it is you want to achieve?. The plan doesn’t need to be a big one. You can set it up yearly, or for five years or ten years, etc.
b. Break down into smaller goals
Then break your goal in life down into a smaller set of goals, e.g. in three years, in two years, in a year time, in six months, in a months time, in a weeks time. Put these small goals in a timetable, so that you can focus on the present goals rather than the long term goals so that you won’t feel overwhelmed by them.
c. Start immediately
Part of the common issue with those who don’t have expectations is that they don’t take action immediately. Then they will be behind schedule and be overwhelmed by it.
It would be best if you were consistent with your timetable, and that will require self-discipline, which is sometimes hard to have. By following your schedule, you will keep your momentum to progress, and you will feel a sense of achievement.
e. Having an accountability person
Have someone who can help you to be accountable for your timetable. It will help to motivate you to keep going, although sometimes you might mess it up. It is ok, don’t be discouraged – this is the reason why you need someone who understands your struggles but also who can push you to be on track again.
These small achievements will help you to feel encouraged and slowly build a meaningful life, eventually being able to help others to progress in their life as well.
In some cases, people need extra help from professionals to work on their expectations, whether they are too high or too low. Working with experienced professionals to see where your issues stem from will help you have a better quality of life. If you have some concerns or opinions, you can write in this column below, and we are happy to talk to you.