Saturday, July 31

Self-expectations: The Good, The Bad, and The Impossible...


Typically, having high self-expectations is seen as a positive character trait. It's admirable to set the bar high and strive to maintain a standard that reflects your aspirations in life; but sometimes we can create unwanted anxiety when we set the bar higher than we can realistically reach.

While I'm all for setting goals, it's important to keep in mind the delicate balance between not enough and too much. Most of us want to be the best we can be, myself included, and because of this I've pursued a life/career based on positivity and overcoming adversity.

Don't Just Survive...Thrive! is my motto!

But this has, from time to time, caused me to put expectations on myself to remain positive all the time.
While I enjoy being Little Miss Sunshine most days, I am no Pollyanna 24/7...no one is, and if they are, something's wrong. Even those in the most ideal and pleasant circumstances, with seemingly nary a trouble in the world and loads of money in the bank will get discouraged from time to time, for any variety of reasons. It's called "being human."
But because of the expectations I'd self-imposed (and perceived others had of me) I felt as if I were letting the world down if I had an off day. It was time to readjust what I was expecting from myself.

I know we've all heard the sayings like "Shoot for the moon and if you miss you will still be among the stars." (Les Brown) -- I've actually used that quote numerous times to try and motivate myself or others, but consistently setting unachievable expectations, only to miss the mark can lead to low self-esteem and feelings of failure. These emotions bring about nothing good. When we feel worthless, we're more likely to just give up completely before trying again.

Another perfect example was when I got it in my head that I was going to hit the gym every single day, 7 days a week. Now this may be an entirely attainable goal for some, but for many reasons it's just not something that's going to happen in my life. Week after week I "let myself down" because I only made it to the gym between 3-5 times, doing 1/2 hour of cardio and 1 hour of weight training. Did I forget that a little over 2 years ago I never went to the gym? Apparently so. Had I set a more reasonable goal, rather than set the extreme (for me) goal of 7 days a week, I'd have met and probably surpassed my expectations of myself, and felt good. Instead, I repeatedly beat myself up for missing the mark I'd set way too high in the first place.

I'm not saying we should set the bar low. Always set them high enough to challenge yourself, but recognize that delicate tipping point between high and unreasonable.
Goals are simply tools to focus your energy in positive directions; these can be changed as your priorities change, new ones added, and others dropped. As long as you're moving forward, you're going in the right direction.

10 comments:

Yenta Mary said...

You are a very wise woman, and I needed to read this message before embarking upon several projects this week. I will strive, but I am not Superwoman! Progress, not perfection ... :)

Michele Chastain said...

Mary...so very glad to know something I said has helped. You're such a lovely person, I know you'll do your best and it will, no doubt, be impressive. :)

Corine said...

I totally agree. Something that has helped me with this is setting short term goals to help me reach my long term goals, and focusing on them. Also, making goals to improve gradually (keeping in mind that gradually I can be where I really want to be); here is a great quote that helped me with this:

“Rise to the great potential within you. I do not ask that you reach beyond your capacity. I hope you will not nag yourself with thoughts of failure. I hope you will not try to set goals far beyond your capacity to achieve. I hope you will simply do what you can do in the best way you know how. If you do so, you will witness miracles come to pass.”
President Gordon B. Hinckley
...Prophet of the Lord :)

Michele Chastain said...

Corine, thanks for the GREAT comment! Love the quote and have tucked it in with my faves for future use. ♥

melissa said...

Just wanted to tell you how much I love your blog! Thanks for your posts. I'm now a follower here. I will be back! :-)

Michele Chastain said...

Thanks so much, Melissa! :)

Karen Mortensen said...

Sorry I am so late at getting here. I guess being human got in the way.
Seriously, I really need to work on that for myself. I always have tolerance for others but not myself. Thanks for this post.

Michele Chastain said...

Hey Karen, I'm pretty sure I know how you feel. I demand more from myself than I am sometimes capable of delivering, and then I beat myself up for "failing" -- it can become a vicious cycle if we don't just acknowledge that we can't do it all.
I think you're amazing, though! *hugs*

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Anonymous said...

I am thankful that I came across your blog. Next time I feel down or beat myself for my unrealistic high expectation, I have to visit your blog to bring my feet down to the ground. Love from San Francisco!!! -Syed