Too often we feel frustrated, unsatisfied, unhappy, restless and all sorts of negative emotions with no particular reason. We blame outside circumstances for the way we feel. But little do we know that we are actually the cause of pain, suffering and unhappiness. Unrealistic and wrong expectations are the underlying issue of why we all of a sudden feel frustrated when before we felt on top of the world.
For those of you who are new here, welcome to “Chasing Dreams” a series that teaches you how to live a happier and healthier life. Every month I share some insights into my past two weeks and share with you not only what I’ve been up to but more importantly what I’ve learned though life and everything that has happened. I reflect on those lessons and see how they’ve helped me to become happier, healthier and closer to my dreams.
Sharing those experiences with you I hope to give you some guidance and inspiration on how you too can see those little lessons life is teaching us every day and take those opportunities as a chance to enhance change and consciousness.
I hope that through my story and my experiences throughout the weeks you get new input and maybe a heads up when you need it to keep going with your passions, see the bright side of life and share this positivity across your tribe. I will tell you what I’ve learned about life and happiness and give you inspiration on how to deal with all the ups and downs every one of us has in their lives. It really is all about being real, being authentic and showing that no matter what, there’s always a way to see things positively and take them as an opportunity to learn and grow and create more happiness.
Beginning of this month it was when I realized that I had been trapped most of this year. I blamed COVID and all that after maths for how I felt and the unfolding of my year when in reality it was me that caused myself all that frustration and unhappiness. I was a prisoner of my expectations. The whole year it feels like I had to learn to manage expectations better. I would set them and then have them crushed or find them not realistic or simply wrong which caused me frustration and negativity. However no matter how often I would set and re-evaluate expectations I continued to make the same mistake over and over again and set new ones as soon as I thought now I have life under control again. Then life proved me different and it took me weeks to let go and readjust my expectations just to do all this over again. Just recently I had expectations again, I set goals that were outside of my control and totally unrealistic. However, this time I realized it within one day that I finally had to learn to let go of my expectations so I did.
If I hadn’t all those expectations on myself to achieve all those goals and do it all at the same time. If I wouldn’t believe that I could work, coach, produce content, give 100% in my workouts, develop new products and a new business I would be a lot happier and certainly a lot less stressed and frustrated. I went out of the internship thinking “now I am finally free to do what I want to really focus on my coaching business”. It went well for a week and I was beyond happy and satisfied. I hadn’t been as productive in a long time and it felt good to invest all my time and mental energy into my goals! But then I decided I needed to make money again, which was the first misconception I had. Sure, money is never wrong, but believing I had no chance but work was simply wrong. I would have made enough focusing on coaching and my other products yet I didn’t trust and set myself the expectation I could do both. As soon as I was in the new part time job I realized I might not be able to keep up the work load I had invested the previous week. I mean who could with three days less at hand?! But still I expected myself to get all those things achieved that I set out to achieved. Obviously, I didn’t manage to so I felt frustrated. I wasn’t able to live up to my expectations so I spend two days feeling bad about myself, regretting having taken this job and beating myself up about the fact that I wouldn’t learn from my mistakes. I had a massive déjà vu to when I started the internship and seriously asked myself: How did I get into this AGAIN?!
Then I had a light bulb moment. I realized that now that I am in this situation there are just two things I can do 1) adjust my expectations and goals accordingly so they are motivating and challenging but manageable and 2) stop beating myself up because besides the wrong expectations investing mental energy on resisting what it is just taking more energy away from me achieving those goals that I set out to achieve.
It takes a lot of training and practice to learn to not set expectations and to be honest, expectations and goals can be motivator and source of joy as well but only if we can live up to them. So maybe instead of learning to stop setting expectations we need to learn to set them realistic, challenging but so that we are able to meet them with our current skills or those we will develop through the process. And second, once we have realized we might have set wrong expectations, which can happen to anyone because sometimes they might have been right in the beginning but then life happened and all of a sudden they are not realistic anymore, sending more time and energy on beating ourselves up on how things are and the fact that we can no longer live up to those expectations is pointless. It is a waste of our energy and time that we could invest in working towards meeting the newly adjusted expectations.
Another thing that is a waste of resources, as I realized this month is doing more than one thing at the same time. That also goes for watching Netflix and messaging at the same time. We can only do only one activity at the same time otherwise we prevent ourselves from flow and true joy. Every activity holds great potential for enjoyment and pleasure however we need to invest mental energy and concentrate on the task at hand and that we are not able if we do more things at once. We can only direct our focus of attention to a certain amount of stimuli and only process so much information at a time. The more activities we engage in the more of that resources will be used not to mention that we also need some of that for things like breathing, thinking, hearing, seeing and so on. So, if you really want to get the most out of what you do, stop doing more things at once and allow yourself to immerse fully in flow in the activity at hand by directing all your attention to only this one thing.
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I gave up competition a long time ago, because I realized I am comparing myself too much to other people and that wasn’t bringing me any value. However, what I didn’t give up was to always strive to be better, to improve myself compared to what I was capable of yesterday. So, if I am honest, I am probably still one of the most competitive people. Nothing is ever good enough, I am never satisfied and once I achieved a goal I will immediately set a new one just to keep up the momentum. I might have stopped comparing and competing against others but I’ve not stopped competing with myself. And that if you ask me is the best and most rewarding way to compete anyway. A competitive mindset and setting goals and expectations on improving yourself every day in everything you do is an amazing space of mind to be in. it not only enables you to unlock your whole potential but also to generate flow and enjoyment because you are totally focused on developing your personal skills and intrinsically motivated to become better.
Besides wrong expectations and competing with others for the sake of external rewards unnecessity engaging in the negative that happens in life is counterproductive to your enjoyment and experience of life. We cannot prevent bad things from happening or negativity from entering our life or consciousness, but we can choose to turn it into something positive. You know, there are always two sides how you can look at things. In fact, when it comes to life there are actually three. You can either decide to let the negative thought of whatever happened eat you up inside and take away all the joy of life and happiness from your spirit, or you can choose to either stay neutral and decide not to let things affect you. You can decide to not judge them and neither see them as negative nor as positive but simply for what it is. That way you give up all resistance and just let things be as they are. That can be very rewarding and freeing and especially helpful if we cannot choose the second option that will improve quality of life: to turn negativity into positivity. That obviously takes a lot more effort and energy and I will be real with you, it’s not always possible, but we can try to see the good, the opportunities in whatever life brings us. We can consciously decide to see things from a positive point of view, to see the possibilities for growth and mastery of skill in this situation. We can face them with a grateful, open minded and welcoming attitude. However, I totally get if that not always is an option for you. Then you still have the choice to stay natural. But letting the negative perspective stick should never be an option.
If this year has shown us one thing again then it is that life isn’t a straight line but more a zick zack up and down. That is also why we constantly need to re-evaluate and readjust our expectations. We can’t possibly be always right or realistic in setting them because we do not know what the future and life brings us. Usually it’s not as we predict it, it’s not going straight forward but rather going some detours which make our expectations and goals unrealistic in the time frame or with the intensity we set them. Especially if our lives are very fast changing and you can hardly plan 2 days into the future, like it was this year we can become a prisoner of our expectations and plans. It can become a full-time job to plan under such circumstances. However if we accept and calculate with those unpredictable variables of life we can not only set our expectations and goals more realistic in the first place but also feel less caught of guard when plans get messed up. It also allows us to react fast and readjust soon enough before the chance of plans can mess with our mind and cause us frustration or negativity.
I hope you liked this post and could get something out of it and it helped you think differently about how you set expectations. If you did and want to help me spread the word, feel free to share this post across all platforms.
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And don’t forget to come back next week for a new post!
See you soon and lots of love!