Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Healthy Expectations lead to Healthy Actions

Expectations…we all have them. But how do we react to unmet expectations?

What happens when our child is not the athlete we expected them to be? How do we react to a promotion that doesn’t come through? Do we cancel our outdoor plans when it turns out to be a rainy day, or do we plan around it?

Whether we know it or not, we form expectations on a regular basis - In fact, it happens so often that you may not even be aware that you have an expectation until it is not met.

Starting with healthy expectations is more important than some of us realize. Unmet expectations can tip life’s scale in the wrong direction if they are not healthy to begin with. There are some important points about expectations that we should take into consideration:

• Expectations are mostly unsaid

• We have expectations for ourselves and others

• Expectations are a driving force in our everyday living

As women, friends, daughters, wives, mothers and working women, we have expectations of all kinds. As women we may expect ourselves to handle it all: maintaining a stressful career while expecting our children to be brilliant at school; learning to become a stellar pianist while taking care of aging parents; being a supportive friend to someone we care for while in our own time of need.

You get the point…we have many expectations for each role we play. When expectations are not met it can cause turmoil. Short tempers, arguments, and disappointment are common but can be greatly reduced or even eliminated if our expectations of ourselves and others are realistic and attainable. The following are 3 tips for healthy expectations:

1) Awareness – ask yourself what your expectations are, and be honest! We can’t have healthy relationships without knowing what our expectations are. Make a list of the general expectations you have for yourself and for others.

2) Decide – This is the key to a healthy expectation. Are my expectations realistic or am I expecting perfection? Having a grasp on our expectations can help us to handle the obstacles (and there will be obstacles). After making your list, assess, decide and adjust any unrealistic expectations.

3) Action – have an alternate plan ready for expectations that may not materialize. Ask yourself, is there another way? How important is this to me or them? Strive for your expectation to be met, but be open to options by having a plan.

So give it a try, start with yourself. You may be surprised to see what and how much you expect. Ask yourself, are these expectations realistic? Am I expecting perfection? For many of us the answers will be “no, not realistic.” And, “yes this may be perfection.” As I stated before this is the key, realizing that some of our expectations may only be for a super hero.

For example: It may not be realistic to expect yourself to have a clean house, all of the laundry done, a hot dinner on the table at 5:30 and be ready to help with homework with TLC 5 nights a week, after working 8 hours a day at a demanding job. Come on…it’s just not realistic. Having the awareness of this expectation and deciding it is not realistic allows you to take the action needed to make a healthier expectation.

You may adjust your expectations by deciding to hire someone to clean your house. You may order takeout a few nights a week. A tutor a few nights a week might be a perfect fit for your child that requires a little help at home. And you may just dial down your expectations and accept that you can’t do it all! When we take these actions we may be surprised to find that the TLC is there for your child when he asks you the same question for the 4th time… and we may just become more accepting of ourselves.