By Published On: 13-Jan-20194.2 min read
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With social media pretenses and endless talk of achievement, has ‘managing expectations’ gone out the window, asks Leadership & Performance Coach, Davina Greene.

Dealing with people, one thing that really grates is the amount of disappointment I encounter. Disappointment in oneself, in friends, partners, siblings, parents, colleagues, life…the works. We have expectations, that’s natural. However, it’s worth taking stock of them, and ensuring we’re being emotionally intelligent in their application – it might help you find some perspective, and therefore some calm.

Managing Expectations of Yourself

What standards have you set for you? Or what are the expectations (stated or assumed) of others that you have accepted and built into your day-to-day thoughts and behaviors?  Are they fair? Are they necessary? For example, have you ‘failed’ if your home doesn’t look immaculate every day? Are you one of the women whose partner still hasn’t seen you without makeup? (How exhausting!)

Have you failed if not everyone seems to love you or your outputs? Remember: although online living would seem to suggest otherwise, the world is not one big target market. Some people will get you; others won’t. Some people will love the product you sell; others won’t. That’s all fine. Stop worrying about it.

Managing Expectations of others

When it comes to others, the first thing you need to remember is: you own nobody. How someone else lives their life is their own choice, if they are not mentally, physically or financially hurting anyone else. It’s OK to encourage anyone, adult or child, but not to force a particular path. “When you get married…”, “When you have children…”, “When you’re earning lots of money…” – what a way to set someone up to eventually feel like a failure!

Do you expect people to impress you? Let’s pare that back: appreciate the ‘generally decent’, let anything beyond that be a bonus. Are you merely tolerating your life while you wait to change the very nature of someone significant in it? Reclaim your life, time and, perhaps, dignity, and be ready to experience how un-keen adults are to change for someone else, in case that’s how it turns out.

Managing Expectations of work

At work, do you have expectations of promotion? If yes, make sure you’ve told someone. Are you working smarter and undertaking new tasks? Do the job, then you may get the job; otherwise, you’re just asking someone to ‘take a chance’.

When it comes to running a business, do you expect every conversation to result in an immediate sale? If you do, then it might be time to evaluate exactly how much disappointment you‘re lining up!

Be aware that most small businesses fail. That has always been true. If you’re thinking  about setting up a business, make sure it’s not just a fun exercise in choosing colors, choosing a name, creating a logo…and then ignoring the tough stuff. Have a vision of the business, not just a vision of the visuals. And remember that just because you enjoy something doesn’t mean you have to throw away your career to focus on it; hobbies and side-careers still exist.

Managing Expectations of life

With life in general, if you have lots of vision and imagination, it can be hard to manage expectations. If you have lots of vision and imagination and own a TV and/or internet access, then the knowledge of all the things that you don’t have can be excruciating. Prioritise what you really need to achieve – the must-do versus the nice-to-do. If you’re looking for a source of inspiration, look to someone who achieved from the same situation as you: if you have a basic, normal salary, comparing yourself to someone who already has a safety-net of millions isn’t going to do you any favors.

Don’t get me wrong, standards, goals, and a desire to achieve are all good things; however, a sense of obligation to achieve and have everything that you can see out there in the world isn’t.

Don’t mindlessly try to keep up with the Jones’, the Kardashians, or anyone else. Set your own path and set reasonable standards, and let others do the same.

Key Points for Managing Expectations

Consider the following:

  • What is “living”, to you? Are you doing it well right now, for you?
  • List out your own expectations for yourself and for others, then read them coldly. Are they reasonable?
  • Perfection is boring – stop expecting it. Expect good, expect decent. More is a bonus.
  • Compare like with like; take inspiration from people who were in  similar position to you when they started the journey that interests you.

Employ your emotional intelligence. You can’t have it all, and nobody is perfect – not you, not anyone else – so employ some mercy, for yourself and for others.


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About the Author

Davina Greene, leadership and performance coach

Davina Greene has a Masters in business from Dublin City University, is a Leadership & Performance Coach, and a corporate Head of Leadership Coaching, providing in-person and digital solutions for individuals and organisations.

Connect with her