Do you have expectations for how life should go? If so, what are they?
Before we start answering this, let’s define the word expectation. An expectation is a strong belief that something will happen in the future or that someone will or should achieve something.
Now that we have a clear definition, we can address our expectations.
What Shapes Expectations
It’s important to recognize that our home environment, our faith community, our context, and our culture all influence our expectations.
For example, I came of age in a Christian home, in the southeast, in the midst of the technology revolution. I expected to get an education, get married, and have a family and a career.
But that’s not how my path in life looked.
This disconnect between my reality and my expectations caused me to struggle for years. I simultaneously felt I needed to work harder so I could fulfill these expectations, despondent about where I’d missed the mark, and hopeless that things would get better.
It’s not that my expectations were bad. The problem was I wasn’t managing them properly. I was still hanging onto old expectations that weren’t serving me where I was.
When I began to let go of expectations that weren’t aligned with my reality, I felt less frustrated and more excited to try new things.
Expectations aren’t static. They need to be evaluated and refined, otherwise, they can keep us stuck in the past.
I wish I could say there is a simple process for unraveling unrealistic expectations once and for all, but there’s not. Age and life experience certainly lend perspective, but I’m regularly reminded how much the influences I allow in my life shape my expectations.
It’s unrealistic to abandon expectations, but that doesn’t mean you can’t develop a healthier relationship with them. That’s why it’s important to step back and identify what your expectations are and understand what is shaping them.
What are your expectations and why?