Why do we set expectations? I’ve thought about this question quite often recently.

Expectations seem kind of like a goal at first; a visualization of how the reality of a situation might play out.

Like in new relationships, when we start to develop a liking for the other person, we begin to set expectations for what we feel we deserve or what we think the other person wants from us. When we start a new school year, teachers set expectations on the amount of work needed to get good grades. When we move to a new city, we set expectations for meeting new people. When we play sports, our expectations are set to win.

We also set expectations for ourselves on how we should look or act. Athletes need to be lean and trim; models need to be tall and skinny; outgoing people need to be glowing and positive 24-hours a day.

But every so often, we fail to meet those expectations. Perhaps we learn that the other person wasn’t quite as interested as we might’ve thought; or the workload was too daunting; or we have difficulty meeting people; or we lose that big game; or we don’t look like an athlete or a model.

It’s natural to set expectations for yourself. Expectations keep you focused and give you hope. But when (or IF) you come up short, don’t beat yourself up over it and especially don’t beat yourself up when you have to lower your expectations; that’s natural too. But is lowering your expectations a cop-out? Perhaps. It depends on how you look at the situation and how you react. Lowering your expectations, in my humble opinion, is good way to cope with the ups and downs that come your way; it’s a good way to embrace life as it comes to you…as long as you use it to grow.

If there’s anything I’ve learned through my many new relationships, new school years, failed sports games, etc. it’s that I never took it as settling (ok, for the most part, anyway). When you lower your expectation, you need to remain aware of this little thing called reality. It’s ok to admit when you’ve set the bar too high…eventually you will get there. Take the lesson and learn from it. Lower the bar, overcome it, and then move on.

We are all different. Every relationship will not bloom into perfection; every game will not be won; and every person will have their own idea of beauty.

That’s the great thing about this world we live in. We can appreciate what other people do for us and see in us. So rather than feel disappointed in those down moments, embrace them and turn them upwards. You will come out much happier and more fulfilled.

Set expectations for yourself that will allow you to appreciate what life has given you; not what it’s taking away.

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