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Great expectations.


I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the expectations we set in our lives- expectations for ourselves, expectations for our relationships, expectations for our friendships, and expectations for our futures.



Late last week, I felt a pang of guilt when I received an A- on a paper for my one grad class. Yes, I’m that girl. I’m that girl that you may characterize as “an overachiever” or even a perfectionist at times (I joke that I have OCD tendencies sometimes 😉 ). I started to think about the benefits and consequences of having high expectations for myself. I have always set high expectations for myself–and I still do. I have great expectations. I expect perfection in most areas of my life. I am hard on myself when I make mistakes or feel like I could do a better job.


Are my expectations too high? Sometimes, my perfectionism produces anxiety. I become so preoccupied with the expectations I have set for myself that I feel stressed and anxious. I psych myself out of doing well on things because of these feelings. I get stuck focusing on my negative thoughts (“I can’t do this,” “I’m going to mess up”). My high expectations produce negative results.



Other times, however, my expectations produce positive results. Because I expect perfection, I work hard to achieve as close to perfection as p)ossible. My expectations for myself inspire me. I work hard to be successful in all that I do. I am proud to say that I’m attending graduate school right now and have a full-time job that I enjoy due to my positive work ethic. I am motivated. I am driven. I have goals for my future.


So what’s the best route to take? Is it best to set high expectations (that are sometimes unrealistic) for yourself and risk the stress that may accompany them? Or should we settle for setting lower expectations to avoid some of the undue stress and anxiety? I believe in taking a happy medium.


 We all need to learn to set expectations that are somewhat difficult to achieve (in order to provide motivation), yet still realistic and attainable for us. Difficult, yet realistic. Through setting expectations like this we can minimize stress and anxiety while still motivating ourselves to be successful. I’ll admit that this is something I still struggle with and need to remind myself of every now and then. Sometimes, it takes  taking a step back and looking at the expectations we have for ourselves. Sometimes, it takes talking to those around us for extra support and encouragement. Sometimes, it takes doing something we enjoy to alleviate our stress.


Sometimes, all it takes is reminding ourselves that no one is perfect and that we can only expect ourselves to do the best we can in all areas of our lives.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. 08/03/2011 2:01 pm

    We are totally on the same wavelength lately. I have a very hard time letting go of perfection and “settling” for “almost-perfect.” You’re right – all we can do is our best, and sometimes a gentle reminder that our best is just that – our best – is all we need to hear.

  2. Connie permalink
    08/04/2011 6:40 am

    I am currently working in an environment where the majority of people come in just to collect a paycheck. No one wants to do any more than the barebones minimum. While I don’t feel that I am a perfectionist, I come across as that because I want to make improvements. It is very frustrating.
    So my question becomes, is it better to give in to the status quo and avoid stress or keep working toward your vision and become frustrated?

  3. 08/08/2011 5:36 pm

    I hate that feeling of frustration, Connie. I do, however think you need to keep working towards your vision despite the frustration and stress. Knowing you, you would only end up upset in the end if you dont work towards your vision to the best of your ability!

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