Are Your Expectations In The Way Of A Happy Life?

by Lori


Personal expectations – what are yours?  Do you deliberately set them or is it unconscious? Are you trying to meet expectations that no one has for you? When is the last time you found yourself doing something you didn't want to do? Do you know why you were doing it? Was it because someone else asked you to do it and even though you didn't want to you said yes so you wouldn't let them down? Or maybe they didn't even ask? Maybe you anticipated that they would be upset or disappointed so you just said yes.

What restrictions or self-expectations do you have that don’t need to be there?  

  • Do you find yourself doing tasks and errands for others because you think they want them done?
  • Do you participate in activities that you don’t want to be in but feel obligated to because of personal expectations?
  • Do you decide you shouldn’t even try to do something (e.g. golf or baking) because you don't know the rules or perceive the results aren't good enough?

Last year I went rafting with some friends even though I was dreading the activity for days (okay, weeks) ahead of time. The river level was very high and it was raining more all the time.  I'd had a bad raft trip previously and I didn't want to end up in the river.  

I had a self-expectation that once I signed up for something and said I would do it I had to follow through. I felt that I would be "letting the others down" by backing out. I told myself that it could even put them in a bad position because the boat wouldn't have the right number of people.

Was any of this reasoning valid? Maybe, maybe not. The point is all of this "reasoning" happened in my head. Did I know for sure there would be an issue with the weight and number of people in the boat, no.  What happened you ask? Exactly what I didn't want to happen. The entire boat flipped and I had some of the worst moments of my life in that river.  

Why might these self-expectations be a problem?

  • Personal Expectations that are unnecessary cause stress.
  • Stress can result in health problems.
  • We'll be unhappy because we are spending our time and energy of things we don't really want to.
  • It is impossible and overwhelming to try to anticipate and meet everyone else's expectations.

If you give all your time and energy to work, your partner and your kids you won't have any left for yourself. Take care of your needs and teach the others in their life to care for their needs. When they let you know what their needs are you can determine how to meet everyone's needs or compromise on a solution that works for everyone.

Questions to ask yourself to avoid unreasonable personal expectations

  • Why do you feel like you have to meet this expectation?
  •  Is this your expectation or someone else’s?
  • Were you actually asked to do this thing or are you trying to anticipate a need you think someone else has?
  •  What would happen if you didn’t meet this expectation?
  • What benefit does meeting this expectation have on you?
  • What detriment does meeting this expectation have on you?

What personal expectations do you have for yourself that aren't really your own or are unnecessary? Share your experiences in the comments below or on Facebook.

Lori Thayer is passionate about finding ways to have the best life, from healthy eating, healthy living, saving money and enjoying life. She is excited to share these tips with others. Improve your health with her FREE article "5 Easy Habits To Improve Your Health".  


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Lori Thayer is passionate about finding ways to optimize life. As a step-mom of two teenagers, a full-time software tester and a momprenuer she knows how busy life can be. She is dedicated to finding ways to be more efficient and find tools to optimize life so that she can spend more time enjoying life with her family. She loves to hike, camp, read, learn about energy, wellness and online marketing as well as singing karaoke with her husband on the xbox at home.

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  • http://www.thechoicedrivenlife.com Olga

    LOri, this was a very good article. Backing out without feeling guilty; I have a problem with other people that are backing out as well when something is planned and they promised to be a part of the event. I realize that, that is not god; you never know why people back out. I will remember your river-story!!

  • http://mymothersbutler.com Vicky Horner 3637

    Good article Lori, it is a good reminder to give ourselves some grace.  A few years back Oprah talked a lot about a book called “The disease to please” and a number of these ideas were discussed.  

  • Paul Crowson

    Phew!!! Lorie,,,hit me….I catch myself doing things that I think others want…definitely  need to be careful about that!

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