2017 is officially gone and we are now embarking on a new journey of 2018. One of the major lessons that I have learned this year was how to manage my expectations in all areas of my life. I feel my biggest let downs were due to my unrealistic expectations. I had a conversation with a friend last year, and I was asking her what her biggest lessons were for that year and she said, managing expectations. At first, I thought, it wasn’t a big deal, but in all honesty, it was a MAJOR deal. My major life lesson that year was learning the power of the pause and not react to everything I felt some emotion about. I had to learn to simply pause.
This year, I am now where my friend was a year ago. I learned to manage my expectations in all aspects of my life. My love life, my career, raising my teenage son, friendships and family. I kid you not, I have dealt with each and every one of these areas this past year; but the most important one was managing the expectation of myselfand where I thought and needed to be. That was a hard pill to swallow. It was a necessary evil, but, I got it. I am still a work in progress, but aren’t we all?
I want to dig a bit deeper into the different categories of where we can better manage our expectations. First up, Love…
As women, we are faced with so many societal pressures on when to get married, how many kids we should have, do we even want kids?!, whether or not we should have a full time career or stay at home. Stay in shape, satisfy your mate and the list goes on and on. But what about us? The sense of self? How about maintaining your identity when in a relationship? How long should you date before you should expect a ring? Do you even want to get married? Do you love your significant other? All of these questions and thoughts when in a relationship can cause stress and tons on gray hair! It’s important to block out societal expectations where you should be in your love life, IF you choose to have one at the moment and focus on what YOU want. Focus on where YOU want to the relationship to go. In all honesty, your love life is between two people and two people only. The best way to manage expectations in love is to communicate. Openly and freely. Ignore all the outside pressures (main one being family) and think about what YOU want and discuss it with your partner. Do they have the same vision? What I do is keep my family and most of my friends out of my relationship and hone in on our wants and needs. At the end of the day, someone will always have something to say when it comes to your relationship. Don’t let what ‘they’ say consume you.
Most of us spend 40 hours or more a week at the workplace. If you have a great boss, then wonderful, but if you don’t, things can get tricky. I know the struggle for sure. Do you feel like your ideas are being taken away from you and you get no credit? Your co-workers are phony and back stabbers? Lower your expectations when dealing with coworkers and your boss. At the end of the day, they are human just like you. They have struggles outside of work, just like you. Instead of trying to make them fit into your ideal work environment, create your own. Your boss is keeping information from you that will help you perform better at your job? Do your own research. Pave your own way. If the environment gets too toxic, leave. Find another job. Peace is far more valuable than poison.
When raising a child, it’s hard not to have expectations. You know what you have done to succeed, what you have failed at, and the mistakes you have made. You want to teach your child the ropes and prevent them from making the same mistakes you did. Easy right? We expect them to listen, take our advice, and go forth in to the world and conquer, right? Wrong. They don’t. They do everything opposite of what you advised and then get mad at you for even advising. Yep, it’s the expectation again. We expect them to do what we know is right instead of letting them grow into their own selves. Remember when you were younger? Did you listen to everything your parents told you? I did to a certain extent, but I had to pave my own way. I failed a lot. I failed miserably, but I learned appreciation. I learned hard work and perseverance. The key word is I learned. Let your child learn. Remove the expectation from your children. Keep advising, keep inspiring, keep guiding, but don’t allow their mistakes to define you. Easier said than done. Trust me, I know this all too well. It is still a learning process. My child still gets mad at me for even advising. But I will never give up or stop advising. He will have to learn to deal with it!
Ahh, the monster of them all… relationships. Relationships with friends and family is terribly hard. Especially the older we get. Your friends will get married, have kids, start new business ventures, make other friends and you will feel left out. You have the expectations that things will remain the same because you did. Wrong. Allow people to be themselves and to grow. That is the expectations we should have in our relationships and they should have the same expectations with you. The expectation of individual growth. As you grow and your friends will grow, you will lose some and others will stick around. It is perfectly ok to let some friendships go but the ones that are worth fighting for, do it and simply be understanding.
Now when it comes to family relationships, the same rules apply. Some family members, you have to let go and love them from afar, and others you can hold tight onto. There will always be family drama, someone will always be upset with someone else, and sometimes you get put in the middle. As a family member, you tend to expect more out of them because you hold them to a higher regard. Let those expectations go. Love them for who they are. If they are not doing right by you or another person, it is ok to call them out lovingly. Often than not, you have to walk away from a toxic environment to gain peace. You may decide to move to a new place to find peace from family. I am here to tell you NOT to feel guilty about that. Never feel guilty about choosing you. Remember, they are going to choose themselves above all. Be mindful, be respectful, be caring, but be authentic, be true to yourself and value your sanity. Space is a good thing. There is a quote by Zora Neal Hurston that I think of, “All my skinfolk ain’t kinfolk”. That quote rings true to this and many other situations in life.
Ladies, I am urging you to choose YOU above all. Your life depends on it.