The dictionary defines an expectation as “a strong belief that something will happen or be the case.” It is then followed by the statement, “reality has not lived up to expectations.”
Herein is the conundrum: how do you have a strong belief that something will happen without being so attached to it that you’re left feeling disappointed?
The challenge with expectations is that there’s often a “should” attached to it. Think about when someone has treated you unfairly or they’ve let you down. Perhaps you catch yourself saying, “they should have been honest with me” or “they should have known that wasn’t what I wanted.”
Expectations set us up for disappointment because they live inside our own worldview and model for how things should be. They have us expect people to behave and respond according to our own rule book which when you think about it is nonsense.
But as purposeful human beings, if we let go of expectations, what do we replace them with to support us in our direction of travel?
The answer lies in knowing our needs.
If you like me have been someone that has lost yourself attending to others’ needs this might seem frustrating. Where do you start when you have a huge list of things you need to do to keep the wheels turning in your work and life?
As humans we all have needs: to love, to know, to grow, to contribute and to feel secure and significant. When we connect to ourselves and our needs, we can take a stance and advocate authentically. We can turn our shoulds into musts.
As an example, I have a need for connection but my need for significance can overtake it and leave me acting as my own tyrant boss. If I recognize my need to connect, I can give myself permission to relax and enjoy connecting with others.
I can let go of this constant “should” pressure to work and perfect everything and enjoy being with friends and family. It’s not a chore, it’s an active choice to spend time with those I love and meet my need.
If you’ve found yourself increasingly disappointed by unmet expectations, the invitation is to slow down and spend some time reflecting on your core needs.
Try this practice …
- What is it you really desire and what would the fulfillment of those needs look like?
- Check these needs against any goals or expectations you’re holding for this year.
- Get clear about what needs you prioritise and what your musts are.
- Now start prioritising these.
If you need support as you learn how to put your own needs first, I can help. Book your complimentary strategy session today.