The lightbulb flicked on, I found the missing puzzle piece, I finally got my ‘aha’ moment. I had a total breakthrough.
In recent years, the unrealistic expectations I had for myself had become a dark cloud that hovered over me. The more I learned about how to be the healthiest, happiest version of myself, the greater my expectations of myself grew. As my expectations grew, so too did the magnitude of the dark cloud above me.
In hindsight, I feel it was a little too obvious, but as I found out, some things need a big slap-in-the-face kind of lesson in order to really sink in. Or in my case, a year or two of continuous clips around the ear.
Expectations. It was the expectations all along. They were what caused the heaviness that hung over me for months upon months. They were what caused the girl who blogged about happiness to feel unhappier than ever. I felt like I had every other piece of the puzzle in place, but the expectations piece - which I knew I had somewhere – was missing.
Until I heard about The Happiness Equation, by Mo Gawdat.
Your happiness is equal to or greater than the events of your life, minus the expectation of how life should be.
I wrote an entire heart-felt blog on The Happiness Equation and my breakthrough last week. Check that out now before you go any further.
“Expectation is the root of all heartache.” – William Shakespere
Unrealistic expectations and happiness struggle to co-exist. If we want to be truly happy, then we need to seriously assess our expectations that we’ve placed on not just ourselves, but our relationships with others, the events in our life, and our creative and professional pursuits.
First, let’s understand exactly what an expectation is. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it as, “a belief that something will happen or is likely to happen.”
That word - belief - is quite powerful in itself. It’s defined as, “a feeling of being sure that something is true.”
So, if expectations are simply believing an outcome to be true, when it doesn’t go the way you believed it would go… then you were wrong. You’re a failure. Nothing ever goes the way you think it will. You can’t do anything right. And so, the unhappiness surfaces.
Is that why expectations hurt so much when they aren’t met? Because it’s a direct reflection on us, our intelligence, our life? God forbid someone else sees that we aren’t actually perfect in every single way! Our ego takes a massive hit, and so does our self-worth.
Am I saying there’s no place in your life for having lofty self-expectations? Not at all.
Benefits of high expectations:
may prevent complacency
motivation to achieve greater things
Of course, many of human history’s most notable figures have spoken of the importance of setting expectations high. However, my goal is in discovering and inspiring happiness. Not just sporadic happiness but regular satisfaction with life and the things we achieve on the daily. If you’ve found that like me, having high expectations is damaging your self-worth and overall sense of happiness, then I suggest lowering expectations, making them more realistic, and putting them into achievable, short-term goals. In doing so, you are far more likely to accomplish great things, on an ongoing basis.
Benefits of lowered expectations:
you’ll be more in control of the outcome
you’ll be reaching realistic expectations more regularly
you’ll be able to recognise the small wins
you’ll make continuous progress
you’ll be calmer
you’ll be more satisfied with life
you’ll be happier
So, what action can we take?
Be aware of the expectations you have – what they are and why you have them.
Become clear on the outcome you’d like to achieve.
Create realistic short-term goals to get you there.
Clearly communicate with yourself or others to gain that outcome.
Give yourself and others a break.
I’m all about reaching for the stars and dreaming big, but I also believe that you can achieve your big dreams in a manner that still ensures your happiness.
There is a time and place for huge gambles and giant leaps of faith. But, if you want to have ongoing, lasting happiness in your life, I would suggest living day-by-day with realistic expectations and regular small wins. One day, those small wins will add up to a very, very big win. After all, slow and steady wins the race… And has a smile on their face the whole time.
Part two of this series will delve into specific examples of expectations that we have for ourselves, our creative/professional pursuits, and our life events. Part three will then look at the expectations we place on those around us.
Love & Happiness
P.S Do you know someone who could really benefit from reading this? To give them the motivation and push they need to make a difference in their own lives and the lives of the young people around them? Share this post with them. Even if they don't embrace it straight away, you've done your part. Thank you.
P.P.S Check out some more content to really take your life and your family members lives to the next level!
YouTube Weekly Tutorials: Click here
The Happiness Equation & How It Changed Everything (Blog): Click here
Selfless? Or Lacking Self-Worth? (Blog): Click here
Are Your Dreams Setting You Up For Failure? By Andrew Baggio (Blog): Click here
5 Steps To Fantastic Leadership (Blog): Click here
The next step:
Commit to being the change, and get started on my IHH 10 Days of Gratitude Challenge. Sign up now to receive your FREE copy. I made it especially for you :) (and not once did I let Adobe InDesign beat me! Ok, maybe once…)
From here, get involved in my whole-family approach and register your interest for the IHH Weekly Workshops ONLINE (for adults) and the in-person, Interactive IHH Weekly Workshops (for kids). Both programs launching early 2017! Note: Registering your interest does NOT lock you in to anything – it simply lets me know that people want to make a change, and gives me an idea of when and how I need to make it happen.
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