When I say the word “Expectations”, what comes to mind? Disappointment, discouragement, distrust, impossible, hopeless. Me too. Are expectations ruining your life and stealing your joy? I struggled with multiple expectations in my marriage, my job and my relationships that left me depressed, angry and doubting myself. It’s difficult when the world tells us we can and should have expectations. However when life doesn’t turn out the way you thought, what do you do? The answer: you have to let go of expectations. Here are 4 tips that helped me learn how to let go of expectations.
4 Tips to Help You Learn How to Let go of Expectations
The first way to let go of expectations is to be grateful. Each month in my bullet journal I create a page so every day I can write down something I’m grateful for. It could be anything from getting a green light on my way to work when I had to use the bathroom to my hubby doing the dishes to my back not hurting on a regular basis even with a slightly bulged disc. When I focus on the good or what I have I’m not paying attention to what I’m missing out on. Its a shift in your mindset. The more you focus on the good the easier it is and the more readily it comes to mind.
Know What You Want & Say It
The second way to let go of expectations is to decide what you really want and say it. I have been disappointed many times because I had an expectation in my mind and didn’t share it. Granted whatever you say should be with kindness and gentleness. I’m not saying you should be demanding as that will get you nowhere. However, you and I aren’t mind readers. It’s impossible to tell what someone else is thinking.
For example, when Ron and I first married, he was traveling a ton for work. During the week he entertained customers by eating out, going to events, and moving from hotel to hotel. I, on the other hand, was home by myself, cooking, waiting to be happy and entertained. So when Ron came home I had the expectation that we would go out to dinner, an event and it was up to my husband to make me happy. I was extremely disappointed! All my hubby wanted to do was sleep in his own bed, have a home cooked meal and lounge around at home.
Can you see the dilemma? If I had shared my expectations with Ron we could have met in the middle. I had the expectation that my husband was supposed to make me happy. It’s totally unrealistic to put the burden of my happiness on someone else. I think a lot of our first year of marriage wouldn’t have been such a struggle if I had shared my expectations and let go of others.
You have to take responsibility for yourself, know what you want and share it.
Can You Relate?
Or has this happened to you? You are cooking dinner and would love to have an extra hand peeling the potatoes or making the salad. Instead of asking for help you let out a big sigh and make sure to slam a few cabinet doors hoping your family will get the hint. Then you get angrier because no one comes to the rescue and they should know you need a hand, right? Nope. That’s not the way it works. Be a mature adult and ask for help! Ask someone to peel the potatoes and another to help chop veggies for the salad. Now you can celebrate and say “Wow, we make a great team. Thanks so much for helping. I really appreciate you.”
Or how about this? You decide that Saturday morning you’re going to sleep in, make a special breakfast for the two of you, talk over coffee and review calendars for the week. Only to find that your husband woke up early grabbed a quick bite and headed to Home Depot to get supplies for the project he wanted to begin. If you would have shared your expectation you could have discussed your plans and compromised.
It could have looked like this. “Hey babe, I’d like to sleep in tomorrow. What are your plans?” she said. He replied “I’d like to go to Home Depot and get a jump on the project I’ve been wanting to start.” “Super, why don’t you get up to make coffee for us and head to Home Depot. When I get up I’ll make breakfast and let you know when it’s ready. Then Maybe we can eat together and then review calendars after dinner tonight?”
Now doesn’t that sound better and notice there are no unmet or unrealistic expectations to deal with. Communication matters.
The third way to let go of expectations is to modify the way you set goals. This year I’m using the 2019 Powersheets from Cultivate What Matters. I love the approach they take. As Lara Casey says “It’s okay to grow slow”. In fact, I’m in the middle of my Mid-Year Review (check out my 2018 Mid-Year Review). Look for another post for 2019 soon. As a result, I am learning how to set goals. My approach tends to look like the top line. However, I’m improving and learning to be more specific so I can measure it and celebrate when I achieve it.
Goal Set: I’ll go to the gym 5 days a week at 5 am.
Realistic Goal: I’ll walk to the mailbox on Tuesday and Wednesday after work.
Goal Set: I’ll drink a gallon of water every day.
Realistic Goal: I’ll drink a glass of water after I brush my teeth in the morning.
Goal Set: I’m going to read God’s word.
Realistic Goal: I’m going to read Psalm 1 and 2 this week.
Choose Your Attitude
The fourth way to let go of expectations is to choose your attitude. Yes, you have a choice to make. You can let other people control how you think, how you feel and the attitude you have and be miserable. Or you can decide to think differently. I never understood this concept until recently. You are as happy as you choose to be. No one can make you feel or think something unless you let them.
If you set your mind to be filled with joy and keep it set no one can take that away from you. Unfortunately, I have not mastered this concept. Life is full of disappointments and trouble. However, I will choose to focus on what is true, good, right, and lovely. Knowing I can’t change someone else, how they respond or what they say has given me huge freedom. Above all, I can change myself and how I think and that is what I plan to do. How about you?
How have you let go of expectations? Share them with me in the comments below.
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