5 Steps To Letting Go Of Expectations
Imagine you’ve mapped out your whole day. You set your alarm early, schedule a before-work yoga class to start the day right. You’ve got your work tasks mapped out by priority and a firm stopping point to head out for dinner with friends after work. It’s the perfect plan… until it doesn’t go as planned. How does it leave you feeling at the end of the day? It happens to everyone, nearly every day. While it’s great to plan ahead, learning to let go of our expectations can help us manage our feelings when our plans take a nose dive.
Own the role your expectations play in how you feel. Revisit the scenario above – it may feel like it’s an everyday occurrence. Do you feel completely defeated at end of each day? Take a step back and look at your day objectively. Did you accomplish what needed to be done, even if it was totally different than what you set out to accomplish? Maybe the day wasn’t a total disaster – and you’re not a failure. Accept that your frustration and feelings have nothing to do with what actually happened, and everything to do with your expectations.
Change your perspective. When things don’t go as planned, it’s natural to feel negative and focus on what didn’t happen, or what went wrong. Try using positive self-talk to talk yourself out of your negative mindset. Instead of stewing over what didn’t happen, rephrase your self-talk and focus on what did happen. Maybe you didn’t make it to yoga – but you did re-organize your day on short notice to accommodate a competing priority. That’s a success!
Consider what you really want. Next time things don’t go as planned, ask yourself what you’re really trying to achieve. Once you identify it, you can course-correct and look for a different way to achieve the same result. Do you keep trying to make it to yoga class before work and it never happens? Maybe you really want to go to yoga, but you’re trying to do it before work because that’s what everyone else does. Perhaps you’d have more success if you hit a lunch-hour class, or on your way home from work.
Reframe your goals. Sometimes, we set goals in a way that set ourselves up for disappointment before we even begin. For example – consider the difference between these two goals:
I’m going to read one book a week.
I’m going to spend 30-minutes reading each night.
In the first goal, we’ve determined an outcome – and if we don’t achieve it, we’ll be disappointment. In the second goal, we may accomplish the same thing but we’ve setup ourselves up to be successful by focusing on the task or time spent, rather than the ultimate outcome. Life still happens, but by setting manageable goals, we can be kinder to ourselves.
Change your mind. We can never be in complete control of what happens to us – or what life throws in our path. The only thing we can control, is how we respond. We can choose to indulge in our disappointment, or we can choose to let go and move forward. The choice is up to us!