You expect too much,” my girlfriend tells me for the 2nd time in less than a week. We were not fighting, but she let me know that she felt that she had a hard time hitting my expectations, and that it was stressful. It was not making me happy either. I mentioned to her that she is setting a low ceiling but that it was made of glass. She has the ability to breakthrough it if she wanted to. That might not have been the best thing to say, but it really got me thinking. Not everyone wants the same things I do. To some, a certain level of success is not worth the effort or pain it takes to get there, and that is ok. For me, I would like to bench press 300 pounds like Travis, but in my mind, it would take far too much to get there. So, I don’t try. Like me not wanting to reach my potential physically, she does not want to reach her potential professionally. We all have different priorities. By me setting such a high expectation for her professionally, it created stress for her and disappointment for me.
With that said, I also understand that setting expectations that are not reached creates stress, anxiety, worry, and disappointment. It has been said, the secret to happiness is low expectations. I can see the point. If you have low expectations, it is easier to exceed them, and exceeding expectations makes you happy.
Yep… I was disappointed.Using a strategy of lowering expectations can definitely help with happiness. I cannot be too hard on it for this reason. But growth helps with happiness too, and high expectations are essential for growth. In fact, I don’t believe someone can be truly happy without growth, so you can see why this is an interesting juggling act.
So, what is the balance?
I believe true happiness and success needs accurate expectations. Expectations cannot be out of reach or you will always be disappointed, but they need to be high enough to push you to get better.
I think the key here is to set high but attainable expectations and communicate that well. Both to the people around you and to yourself.