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Expectations. They’re everywhere. We have them for the people around us, for ourselves, for where we are supposed to be in our lives at a certain time, our relationships, romance and so much more.

But are our expectations realistic? One thing I’ve learned over the last 10-15 years is that our expectations often times hurt us more than help us and even more so, they’re so unrealistic that it’s nearly impossible to feel satisfied as we work towards our goals.

Let me tell you how I evolved my expectations when it came to dating….

I used to get REALLY excited before a first date, I’d go into it expecting it to be amazing. We would have a great time, the guy would be everything I’m looking for and the conversations we had prior to our first date (whether via a dating app or text) would be the same when we met up for the first time. It’s exciting to be in this space of hopefulness and romance. But the reality was that a lot of times I’d be filling the dead space with mindless chatter, the guys where boring or assholes or wouldn’t even look like they portrayed themselves to be.  I was let down over and over and over again. It just kept happening, to the point that I wanted to give up all together.  And it wasn’t just happening to me – my friends experienced the same things. We all wallowed in our misery of finding “the perfect guy” and how dating was hard and how this was not living up to our expectations for our lives at this point.

It wasn’t until, I basically had enough of it all, that I realized the wallowing wasn’t serving me. I realized that it wasn’t the men at fault for not living up to my expectations but it was me for holding them too high.  It took a sharp jab to realize that I needed to change my perspective. I had been chatting with a guy for a few weeks and we had not yet been able to meet up, I was really excited about meeting this guy – he seemed like the entire package! We finally had a break in our schedules to grab a drink and made plans. The day of? I was nervous and excited all at the same time, but guess what. I heard nothing, not a peep from him. He totally ghosted on me and we hadn’t even met yet!  It was like someone slapped me in the face, but not because he hurt my feelings for ghosting, but for me. It was like I slapped myself in the face and said DUDE! YOU BUILT THIS ALL UP YOURSELF! SNAP OUT OF IT.

I started to look at what I was doing to myself – getting excited over something completely out of my control. I was setting these expectations for men I didn’t even know and that didn’t know what the expectations where only to be sorely let down when they couldn’t meet them.

So I stopped walking into dates with these massive expectations. Instead, I walked in with none at all. Maybe something will come of it, maybe it won’t – either way I won’t be let down. It took incredible control to get to that place. I helped myself by making sure I met up with someone early on (so I wouldn’t get too excited by our chats before hand), I was clear about what I was looking for right from the start (yes that means I told them I was looking for a relationship) and I went into dates hopeful but not holding these men to any of those past expectations (That they couldn’t possibly know about). And it changed my life. 

So how does this apply to our careers? Our businesses? And how can we STOP creating unrealistic expectations for ourselves?

Particularly in the job hunt, and in transitioning careers, we often times set ourselves up with expectations that can lead us down a path of disappointment.  We apply for jobs that we would qualify for in our current career, but may need more time in a new career or we think we can just apply for jobs here and there and one will magically appear.  As a bearer of bad news – it just doesn’t work this way. The job market is tough – its cutthroat and you’re competing against hundreds of people, if not thousands. But it’s also not impossible! We just need to be realistic around our expectations.

Take a step back.

Just as with expectations in dating, you need to take a step back when setting your expectations around your career and your business. If you are trying to transition from one industry to another and you have no direct experience in a position, you need to take a good look at what you CAN do and if you are capable of doing the actual position.  If you’re starting over in a new industry, it makes no sense to apply for senior or director level positions when you do not have experience in that industry.  If you’re a business owner and you set expectations for yourself that so high that they’re nearly impossible to achieve – look at what at what you CAN achieve!

Don’t let other people’s unrealistic expectations get in your head.

We are so influenced by other people, society and a ever growing pile of opinions. It’s hard not to listen, to take them to heart and to compare yourself to what other people say you should be and should do. But we must stop! If we want to conquer our goals, achieve our own success we need to pave our own path and set our own expectations for ourselves based on what works for us as individuals. Figure out a way to help you stop comparing and clumping your expectations with others. Whether it be daily mantras, reminding people that it’s good for them not you, or even just a rubber band to the wrist to remind you that the only one to determine what you’re capable of is you!

Be Optimistic!

Setting realistic expectations doesn’t mean you can’t dream big. It just means knowing your capabilities, and how you’re going to get there. Create a solid strategy around how you’re going to get there. Come up with an action plan – if you’re trying to change careers hire someone to help you translate your resume, take a class on what you want to switch to (there are plenty of free online courses out there) or get a mentor! Start with the things you know 100% you can do to improve your opportunities – the more you do the larger the possibilities. If you don’t stay optimistic – those negative, self doubting thoughts will stop you from improving and getting what you desire.

Find Support

While you don’t want other people’s expectations to muddy up your own, you absolutely should seek out support. Whether it be from a mentor, a coach or a friend who’s been where you’re at now. Talk about what you’re going through and have some one help you come up with strategies to accomplish your goals! There’s no shame in asking for support. And there’s definitely no shame in lowering your expectations so you can start celebrating your accomplishments!

Are you ready to start kicking ass and taking names, while also setting reasonable expectations for yourself so you can do said ass kicking and name taking? Grab a 30 minute Career Clarity Call from my schedule and we can chat about where you want to go!

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