With the start of the new year there seems to be endless possibilities. We are all going to get fit and be clean eating, yoga-doing goddesses. Our productivity is going to skyrocket, our organization will be on point, and we’ll never go to bed without washing our faces again. Yes, we say to ourselves, this is what 2016 will be all about.
What happens when we create expectations in our mind that don’t come to fruition exactly as we hoped? When our preconceived notions of how an event will play out isn’t what happens? We are often faced with disappointment and shame, feeling as though we should have been better, smarter, more prepared, etc. Our expectations can have amazing power over our feelings and cause us to be elated when something surpasses our anticipations or saddened when it’s not as good as we thought it would be.
Expectations, however, do not have to be hindrances to our happiness. In fact, we can harness our expectations and strategically make them work to our advantage. Here are some ways to reframe your thoughts and actions to make expectations work for you.
Separate Your Self Worth From Outcomes
There is nothing as damaging as tying your self worth to loosing a few pounds or getting that promotion or hitting your GPA target. When you believe you deserve love and happiness and peace only once you’ve attained a goal, you will never feel fulfilled (even if you do achieve it). You have to realize that by being the sweet, thoughtful, curious, and kind person you are, you are inherently worthy. This is not to say that striving for improvement is not necessary (it 100% is!), but rather that until you are happy with yourself as you are, you can’t hope to become an even better version of you.
You know the endless barrage of social media posts showing sculpted bodies and glamorous couples and always tidy children? Well, yes those are how some people live, but it’s not entirely how they live. Most of our days are spent in mundane tasks and are actually pretty boring. Bloggers stare at their computer screens, actors sit in their trailers, travel journalists spend hours waiting in airports. That doesn’t mean that you can’t want to live an extraordinary, Pinterest worthy life. What it means is that you have to appreciate the inspiration of every day and rejoice in moments both big and small.
Try and Try Again
There is a phenomenal quote from Downton Abbey which perfectly demonstrates that we can have high expectations for ourselves while not allowing setbacks to derail us: “No one hits the bull’s eye with the first arrow.” We all want to nail what we set out to do, but what we must understand is that we can’t have an expectation of perfection out of the gate. It is our duty to ourselves to pursue improvement without sacrificing our sanity. We do this by giving ourselves the grace to make mistakes and encouragement to get back up.
By modifying your mindset and behaviours you can create expectations which push and inspire you. Coming from a place of worthiness and confidence allows us to move forward with our expectations as our valuable companion instead of enemy.
Photography by Ally Marcino