Managing expectations is a never-ending exercise in clearly articulating our needs, wants, and hopes. It requires activating all three elements of practicing curiosity: self- awareness, relationship building, and communication.
Here’s what I learned to help me navigate the dynamics of managing expectations that I’ve applied to both my personal and professional life. Here are four tips to manage your own expectations of yourself:
Differentiate between expectations and hope
It’s easy to let expectations slide into hopes, which often don’t have any basis in reality. I realized expectations should be based on my previous experiences to determine what is realistic and possible. For example, I was a bit too optimistic in my second year in business. I was hopeful. I didn’t have any evidence that supported my expectations, meaning they were really just hopes.
Don’t compare myself to others in creating expectations for myself
If I only look at those who I think have more than me, I will always feel I don’t have enough. So, I can’t compare. This is a hard one to admit that I do. I constantly have to remind myself not to compare. I have close friends who are also authors of wildly successful books. As a self-published author without a long track record of prestigious publications or public speaking, I can’t apply the same expectations of success to myself.
Continue to do things I love even if they don’t meet my expectations
There are so many things I love doing, such as writing essays like this, that don’t meet my expectations of desired outcomes. I often remind myself that I don’t write because I expect a lot of views; I write to have an impact, even if that impact is limited to a few readers. Think about what things you love to do and that you would do no matter what, even if they don’t live up to your expectations. This lesson is also connected to the one on differentiating between expectations and hope (see lesson #7).
Lower my expectations to “good enough” so I can experiment faster
I sometimes slip into perfectionist standards. This past year, I pushed myself to create content with less and sometimes no outside editing before I post. I’ve been surprised by how my raw content can resonate with people, like my 2021 reflections on managing my energy instead of my time or my Instagram reel that went viral when I made fun of myself. This lesson is one I will lean into even more in 2023.
I’ve learned to accept that managing expectations is an iterative process in which I have to be asking questions and listening carefully to both others and to myself.
Do any of these lessons resonate with you? You can listen to me reading the original essay at: https://drjuliepham.substack.com/p/2022-reflections
Also check out the blog post “2 Ways to Manage Expectations with Others“.
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