What Price are You Paying for Your Unrealistic Expectations

ShannMany of the new entrepreneurs drawn to my transformational coaching and consulting business have super high (and often unrealistic) expectations of themselves and others. Add a heaping spoonful of impatience and a dash of ‘got to have it my way’ and they often end up with a recipe for disaster. The result? Disappointment in themselves and others when they don’t experience their unrealistic, perfect outcome.

I get it. Mentally requiring myself and others to aim for the heavens is something I can relate with. Thankfully, after a lifetime of “this is not good enough” thinking, I’ve learned to replace my expectations with invitations, intentions and strive for excellence.

The definition of an expectation is: ‘A strong belief that something will happen in the future.’

The definition of an invitation is: ‘The action of inviting someone to go somewhere or do something’;(this someone can be yourself).

The combination of the two: “The action of inviting someone to go somewhere or do something that will take place in the future.”

The combination of these two definitions allow us to set our intention and invite someone else to support us in the pursuit of whatever it is we may be creating.

When the invitation is accepted. It’s important that we trust the person we are in partnership with (no control freaks allowed) to create and complete the project, with room for flexibility to solve problems and take care of unforeseen issues or obstacles.

When we set our expectation bar as high as the moon, our ego will bash, belittle or destroy anything it considers to be less than perfect. Unrealistic expectations can breed insecurity in ourselves and can lead to blaming others for not stepping up as we expected they should. Harsh judgement is a clear trajectory to an abyss of disappointment. Perfectionist’s and over-achievers often find themselves in this situation. It doesn’t have to be this way!

When we choose to replace our expectations with invitations, we can support our peers (and ourselves) to show up to the best of their ability. We agree to do our part to the best of our ability, enjoy the creative process and let the rest unfold as it will.

I often recommend using language that is less demanding and more open and kind. Here are a few examples:

Your Friends:

I invite you to be mindful, honest and respectful.

Your Employees:

I invite you to be present, focused and get the job done to the best of your ability.

Your Clients:

I invite you to show up and communicate clearly and honestly about your needs/wishes.

To Yourself:

I will practice being patient and celebrate small successes while I make incremental strides toward my intentions.

Snapping our fingers and demanding our every wish to manifest in perfection is silly. This makes me think of Veruca Salt’s character in Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory. There is a scene where Veruca climbs up on the golden egg scale and quality control labels her a bad egg and drops her into an incinerator. I can almost hear petulant Veruca saying: “Daddy, if I don’t get EXACTLY what I want, I’ll make your life a living hell.”

Admittedly, I love getting my own way. I like to win. I enjoy making things happen. NOW. I also love to work and play with brilliant people. Who doesn’t? My point here is we can all raise the bar higher when we invite ourselves and others to come along for the ride with clarity, creativity, flexibility and a positive attitude.

Replace your expectations with invitations and enjoy the creation process!

  • What would happen if you replaced your expectations with invitations?
  • How have you been burned by expecting yourself to be perfect?
  • Have you ever expected too much of yourself, your family, employees or co-workers? How did that work out for you?

2 thoughts on “What Price are You Paying for Your Unrealistic Expectations

  1. Nice article Shann.

    I think you are spot on with changing how we look at our expectations. I love your suggestion of ‘inviting’ instead of pushing. It makes so much sense and feels way better as well.

    1. Thanks Melissa! Replacing my expectations with invitations has really improved my personal and professional life. Feels good to lighten up!

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