What happens when the expectations for our life don’t match up with reality? What’s the takeaway and how do we begin to adjust our expectations so that we can find common ground between the two?
Life seems to be this ebb and flow of expectations and reality checks and the way we handle those adjustments are sometimes the true indicators of our character. It’s easy to dream the big dreams and envision the future you always imagined, but it’s much more difficult to embrace the current and decide to be at peace with where the chips may have fallen. Whether it’s a personal endeavor, a business venture, or something you think you’ve always wanted, learning to adjust expectations and come to grips with reality can take time, but most of all patience and grace.
A few tips (that I’ve personally learned that have to remind myself of VERY often):
1. We deserve nothing.
The root of expectation is often entitlement – a sense that we deserve something or we SHOULD have something happen to or for us. When we begin to understand that we are not “owed” something, that can help with a shift in perspective (albeit a tough pill to swallow).
2. Discover the root of your expectations.
Is this something YOU want to happen? Is it something that someone else has told you MUST happen? Where do your expectations come from? Once you figure out the source, you can begin to figure out how to adjust those to your reality. If someone else is telling you it’s a “MUST,” think about WHY that’s something you need to apply to your own life. If it’s not something you also consider a must, then it has to go.
3. Finding grace in the shortfall.
When something you expected to happen, doesn’t, it can sometimes be difficult to wrap our minds around that. During a time period where Jim and I were trying to start a family, we experienced a significant amount of heartache and loss. It was difficult to come to terms with the fact that we were not getting what we wanted or expected for our life. But the beauty is that we allowed ourselves to feel that disappointment, anger, sadness, and then adjusted how we moved on to the next phase. Giving yourself room to adjust is key when trying to manage those expectations.
4. Timing is everything.
Oftentimes, the source of contention for our expectations is the frustration that what we desired for our life is not happening on our timeline. It’s an exercise in control and we want what we want when we want it. (So many WANTS!) But oftentimes, our expectations may come to pass, just not when we expected them to. AND THAT’S OKAY. Sometimes, the biggest adjustment comes in the recognition that perhaps things are not as they were supposed to be – in the timing that they were supposed to be. It is an adjustment to our expectations, but also to the time in which we believe something should have happened.
Learning to adjust our expectations and embrace the reality of the situation we are in takes time, patience, and a little perspective. We can often fall into the comparison trap and feel as though we deserve something that perhaps is not quite ready for us yet. Flexibility is key and learning to embrace the NOW can be some of the most valuable pieces to the expectation puzzle.
How have you had to adjust your expectations to fit a life circumstance?