Free Yourself from the Pain of High Expectations

· August 9, 2016

Humans are experts in creating a world of expectations in their heads out of nothing. When you study in university, you hope to find a great job right when you graduate. When you’re in a relationship, you think about what your life will be like with that person. And that’s how we go through life, hoping for the best possible scenario.

This is not all bad. Having goals is necessary for a successful life. If you don’t keep challenging yourself, you won’t make progress.

“Suffering is traumatic and awful and we get angry and we shake our fists at the heavens and we vent and rage and weep. But in the process we discover a new tomorrow, one we never would have imagined otherwise.”

-Rob Bell-

The problem is that we’re not always realistic about what we want. When our expectations go beyond the scope of possibility, we run the risk that we’ll end up giving up out of frustration.

If you concentrate on going step by step, you’ll avoid the pain of not fulfilling your high expectations.

Create realistic goals

To avoid the pain of high expectations, you need to focus on realistic goalsThe secret is to find balance between your highest ambitions and the possibility of achieving them.

I’m not saying that you can’t go as high as you want. But you can’t expect immediate success with little effort.

“An objective, a goal, a target serves to determine what action to take today to obtain results tomorrow.”

-Peter Drucker-

Think about the people you admire, and you’ll realize that they’ve all made progress step by step. Before planning your wedding and the names of your children, first you need to have a partner and spend the first few months with them.
finish line

When you focus all your attention on smaller goals, you’ll create the perfect path towards the end goal.

“People who say that life is not worthwhile are really saying that they themselves have no personal goals which are worthwhile. Get yourself a goal worth working for. Better still, get yourself a project. Always have something ahead of you to look forward to.”

-Maxwell Maltz-

Establish your own metric of success

Many of our high expectations come from our upbringing. If you were taught that the only people who are successful are the ones who have new cars and a huge house, that’s what you’ll look for.

But have you thought about what success means to you? How would you measure it?

It’s hard to believe, but everywhere you go, can find people who have all the outward signs of “success,” but very emotionally dissatisfied. 

Maybe after you bought an enormous house in a luxurious community, you realized that the debt that came with it made you unhappy. In this case, you’d be in a lot of emotional and financial pain.

Stop to think about how you measure success. It could be based on:

  • The number of people around you who are important to you.
  • How much money you have in the bank.
  • How much time you spend with your family.
hands in the air3

These are just a few options; you should figure out your own way to measure success without feeling pressured by other people.

“The most important motive for work in school and in life is pleasure in work, pleasure in its result, and the knowledge of the value of the result to the community.”

-Albert Einstein-

Your expectations must be your own

I don’t want you to think that you should reduce the amount of high expectations that you have, because they’ll help you progress and be a better person.

The issue is that you’ll only grow if you challenge yourself with something that you want and that makes you happy. If on the way you forget about yourself and what you want, pain will be inevitable.

Whatever happens, remember that you are the protagonist of your own story, and you shouldn’t let anything take that away from you.

“You have to believe in yourself, that’s the secret. Even when I was in the orphanage, when I was roaming the street trying to find enough to eat, even then I thought of myself as the greatest actor in the world. I had to feel the exuberance that comes from utter confidence in yourself. Without it, you go down to defeat.”

-Charlie Chaplin-