“I’m not in this world to live up to your expectations, and you’re not in this world to live up to mine.”
— Bruce Lee
Expectations used to mean things we actually “control” and therefore “expect” the outcome to occur. But in recent times, expectations have meant things we can’t control but are expected to and this interpretation isn’t helping anyone.
Whether it’s our parents telling us what job or degree we should strive for, a friend expecting us to be someone we’re not or our coach or boss demanding a certain result — the expectations from others can stack up to create a deadweight of unwanted pressure, stress and anxiety in our lives.
So how do we cut the deadweight?
1) Accept that people will have expectations no matter what. This is why going external for validation and attaching our value or worth to meeting someone else’s “expectation” is a catch-22 — you won’t ever win. Remember, you decide your self-worth.
2) Accept that we can’t control other people’s expectations of us. You can’t “expect” something you can’t control 100%. Focusing on the expectations of others is a recipe for distraction.
3) Focus back on the things we can control. The only expectations you should ever have for the rest of your life are the things you can control… deciding how hard you work at something and your mindset.
Robert Jordan once wrote, “He was swimming in a sea of other people’s expectations. Men had drowned in seas like that.”
The expectations of others are hard to ignore but don’t drown, there is a way through.
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