I’ve heard it said that expectations are premeditated resentments. I believe much of life’s discomfort and unhappiness happens in the space between expectations and reality- especially in the workplace.
This week I got a call from a friend who was struggling at work. Things weren’t working out as she expected and as a result she found herself stuck in a spiral of jealousy, negative thinking, and comparing. It was no surprise to me that I’m the one she called for insight as I’ve found myself in the same mindset.
We bring our expectations to work with us every day. We may expect our hard work will be rewarded with a promotion or raise and experience frustration if we don’t feel we were adequately rewarded. We may have high expectations of ourselves and we take on more than we can handle. We may expect our co-workers to behave in a certain way and get annoyed with their entirely human foibles.
When we let our expectations define our experience, we’re far more likely to be disappointed, unhappy, and we begin to resent those around us. Often the situation is not as bad as we think it is, it’s just different than our expectations.
I’ve found positive and negative expectations are equally harmful to my happiness. When my expectations are high I’m likely to be disappointed if things don’t work out the way I expect them to. When my expectations are low I’m likely to experience exactly what I expect and feel somewhat justified but ultimately unhappy.
Like all things in life, the key is balance. To be successful and happy at work we must manage our expectations.
How to manage expectations in the workplace
Image courtesy of blumpy
Check your expectations
When you find yourself feeling frustrated, angry, resentful, or disappointed check your expectations. Instead of focusing your thoughts and emotions on the situation or individuals, check your expectations and see if they are the real source of your discomfort. If so, there are positive steps you can take to improve your experience!
Adjust your expectations
Are your expectations realistic? Sometimes our expectations are influenced by what we want instead of reality. Are you expecting someone to do something they aren’t capable of doing- yourself included? Do you expect a particular outcome that involves the participation of multiple unrelated individuals? You can adjust your expectations if you realize most things are out of your control (or anyone else’s!).
Ask for it!
Often we expect people to behave a certain way and we take for granted they know what we want or need to help us be successful. The truth is most of us are putting 90% of our energy into managing our own day and even when we try to assist others, we don’t really know what they want, need, or expect of us. Ask for what you want (and be specific!) and you’re more likely to get it.
You and you alone are responsible for your happiness. You are responsible for your life and your experience. You can avoid disappointment by taking responsibility for your expectations. So someone else didn’t meet your expectations- so what? What are you going to make your own life great today?
Things aren’t always going to go your way- I’m sure you know that by now. You can improve your experience by accepting that sometimes you’ll be disappointed and that’s okay. Someone will make a mistake- maybe it will be you. Sometimes you’ll fail and get back up again. Disappointment is just another experience in life. If you wallow in disappointment it will bring you down- accept it and move on.
Work in the moment
Expectations are all about outcomes- the results we hope to achieve. What if you shifted your focus from the outcome to the simply doing your best in the moment? I’m a lot happier at work when I focus on what I am doing in the moment instead of what happened before or what I want to happen next. In this moment, right now, I can be great at what I’m doing and that’s all that really matters.
Live and love life on life’s terms
Chances are there’s a lot of good stuff in your life. Okay, so you have some legitimate complaints and maybe some stuff that needs change, but at some point in life you have to stop and just live the life you have. Let go of your expectations and just enjoy life- faults and all!Join the Conversation
Conflict happens regularly in life. Conflict often arises when minor disagreements go unnoticed or unaddressed and become larger issues. In other cases we experience unnecessary stress over perceived conflicts because we have been conditioned to focus on negative experiences.
How we deal with conflict has a significant impact on our health, happiness, and success in life. By overcoming emotional attachments and self-defeating attitudes we can manage conflict more easily.
No really, it’s true! At least, it’s true for me. I wouldn’t say managing conflict is easy but it can be easier than we make it. I don’t fear or avoid conflict the way I used to because I’m confident and compassionate in how I address conflict in my life today. As a result of my changed attitudes, my personal and professional relationships are greatly improved as I’ve learned to positively deal with conflict.
When it comes to conflict, here’s how I roll:
How To Deal With Conflict
“Be kind. Everyone you meet is carrying a heavy burden.” ~Ian MacLaren
You can’t go wrong with kindness. Always be kind. Be kinder than you might feel.
It’s not all about you
Other people have a right to their thoughts and feelings, just as you have a right to yours. Respect the other person’s position- at the very least recognize they have their own life to consider.
Some of it IS about you
In some situations you may defer to someone else completely but this approach isn’t helpful or healthy, either. You have a right to express yourself and address your concerns- just not at the expense of others. Just be honest about your position.
Take responsibility for yourself
The rest of the world doesn’t exist to make you happy- that’s your job! If you blame someone else for your experience you’re probably going to be unhappy most of your life.
Your happiness is up to you! In a conflict don’t expect someone else to make things right for you.
Don’t take responsibility for others
Just as your happiness is your responsibility, someone else’s happiness is their responsibility.
If you’ve done someone wrong by all means own up to it and let the other person take it from there. Make amends and let it go, even if they can’t let it go- you can’t make it right for them.
Respond, don’t react
Do you go on the defensive when facing conflict and react instead of responding? Don’t react- take a few moments to consider how you want to respond.
Remember, you don’t have to attend every argument you’re invited to and you don’t have to respond to every verbal jab.
Use emotion to inform, not define
Facing conflict is an emotionally-charged proposition. Use your emotions to inform your position and avoid allowing your feelings to determine your actions. Just because you feel anger doesn’t mean you have to act out in anger.
Is your response to the conflict Thoughtful, Honest, Inspiring, Necessary, and Kind? If not, it may be helpful to stop and re-THINK your position.
Image by Pietro IzzoJoin the Conversation
When I tell people I write about work-life balance the response I get most often is, “I need some of that!” Don’t we all?
The problem is we tend to think of work-life balance as a destination we hope to arrive at one day but like most of the things we want in life (happiness, love, success) work-life balance is a way of living, not a badge received at the end of the race.
Work-life balance is all about balancing your body, mind, and heart. It’s not about how much time you spend but how you spend your time. You don’t have to be perfect to enjoy balance in your life- just do what you can.
You can start today by discovering small ways to create a life that is more balanced, and then all you have to do is keep it up! Some days this will be easier than others, and that’s okay. Keep trying. Keep practicing. This is a life well-lived in the making and you do it every day.
Okay, so how do you do it every day? I’ve got some ideas about that.
Photo credit: Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos
The Dos & Don’ts of Work-Life Balance
create balance in your life every day.
make excuses for putting balance at the bottom of your priority list!
enjoy at least 15 minutes of “me time” each day.
skip taking breaks at work. You’ll be more productive if you take breaks, I swear!
stay hydrated and eat good food.
gorge yourself on junk food. A little is okay in my book- remember balance is the goal!
take naps. Naps are a great way to recharge.
stay up too late arguing politics on Facebook, or indulging any of your other internet vices!
declutter your digital life. Get rid of the things that aren’t adding value to your life.
plop yourself down on the couch and channel surf. Enjoy shows and movies you love and then get up off the couch and do something else!
get some exercise! Exercise comes in many forms- walking the dog, housecleaning, biking, running, yoga, or everyone’s favorite activity- going to the gym.
push yourself beyond your limits. Find your limit and stretch into it instead of just recklessly pushing beyond it.
spend time with people you love.
let your dislike of other people get you down.
have fun every day! Life is as fun as you make it!
forget to smile! A smile a day keeps stress at bay.
check one item off your to-do list.
expect yourself to do it all.
say no when you need to.
feel guilty about saying no.
let go. Let go of your worries. Let go of your fears. Let go of your judgements. Just let go.
take on other people’s attitudes, emotions, or actions. If it doesn’t belong to you there’s nothing you can do about it, anyway!
accept yourself as the beautifully imperfect individual you are today. All you can do today is the best you can, where you are right now.
put yourself down for making mistakes. Mistakes are okay!
be kind to yourself and others.
complain. Complaining is bad for your soul, and probably your complexion, too.
love! Love yourself! Love others! Love your life! YEAH!
I love your comments! What other dos and don’ts do you have to share?Join the Conversation
Jump and the net will appear. A comforting platitude, no doubt, but is it really true- will your net appear?
What if the net did not appear? What if you fell flat on your face? Yeah, sometimes that happens. There are no guarantees in life. There are no absolutes. There are no sure things. There is only you, so the real question is what are you going to do next?
If the outcome is not certain- and it’s never certain- what are you going to do? That’s the point of taking a leap of faith- you believe you’ll succeed but you don’t know it. That’s why it’s called a leap of faith.
I believe in taking leaps of faith. In fact, I recently took my own leap of faith when I resigned a burnout job without having another job lined up. Was I scared to make this leap? Hell yes, I was! Was it the best possible choice I could make in that situation? Hell yes, it was.
And it did work out for the best, by the way. I found another position before my final day at my previous job but that’s not really the best part. The best part is I’m no longer exhausted and used up to the point of exhaustion. That really sucked!
Every choice is really a leap of faith. We never know what will happen. Things often don’t work out the way we think they will, and often don’t work out the way we want, yet we always have the choice to learn from our mistakes, be grateful for what we have, and make the best of today.
If the outcome is not guaranteed, and I accept that I might fail, how can I make the leap?
Image courtesy of BendingPhotography
Set aside negative emotions
I’m not taking a leap of faith from a place of fear, anger, or resentment. Those emotions tell me not to leap, that leaping is too risky. My worst decisions are the ones influenced by fear, anger, or resentment.
Do what’s right
I was scared to resign a stable corporate job that was using me up, but I wasn’t willing to continue to be used up- that choice wasn’t right for me. Is it really right for anyone to give too much of themselves to a job?
Look before you leap
Before taking my leap I reviewed my budget and considered my choices should I end up unemployed for more than a few weeks. When I took my leap I had a reasonable plan and a few backup options. Making a thoughtful and careful choice helped me have faith.
I am a confident and capable individual. I make the best of whatever is in front of me. I’ve been through hard times before and I’ve gotten through them. I can get through this, too.
Trusting myself gave me the courage to believe things would work out, even if it wasn’t in the way I originally wanted. I trust in my competency and my abilities.
I believe I can do this. Yes, I can!
I love your comments! Have you ever taken a leap of faith? How did it work out for you?Join the Conversation
Do you wake up every morning ready to face the day? Are you generally happy? Do you feel engaged and excited to live your life?
I do. Every day I practice living an intentional life I experience happiness, engagement, and excitement just to wake up and greet the day.
My life isn’t perfect and yet my life is great! My day doesn’t always go the way I want but I learned long ago getting my way isn’t the secret to loving life. The secret is living intentionally.
What does it mean to be intentional?
It means you are purposeful in word and action. It means you live a life that is meaningful and fulfilling to you. It means you make thoughtful choices in your life.
Being intentional means you actively interact and engage with your life. You wake up every day and ask yourself, “how am I going to make this day great?”
You respond instead of react. You love instead of fear. You embrace instead of expect. You accept instead of resist.
Why be intentional?
Be intentional because you want to do more than just get by. Be intentional because you dream. Because you aspire. Because you care about something- anything! Because you live.
Sure, it’s easy to do what others do.
It’s easy to complain about Mondays because Monday is the most lovingly loathed day in our society.
It’s easy to live to work because we buy into the idea that we have to have more- more money, more credibility, more authority, more success. How often do we want these things because we think these things will make us happy?
It’s easy to trudge through life cursing the things you don’t like but staying stuck there. Is that the life you really want to live?
How to be intentional in all you do
What’s important to you? What do you love to do? Which people are meaningful to you? What motivates you? What lights you up? Do more of that! As much as you can do.
Strive to grow and improve but don’t expect yourself or anyone else to be perfect. Embrace being perfectly imperfect and enjoy every minute of it!
You’re a human being- not a human doing. Be just who you are today and go from there.
Discover your choices
You may feel stuck sometimes but the truth is you have unlimited choices. Widen your perspective. Consider all the possible choices from the irresponsible and painful, to the inspiring and honest choices.
Make a list of your choices- even those that you would never choose. Sometimes just knowing you have choices frees you to make the best possible choice you can.
Declutter your life
Get rid of the habits, attitudes, situations, and people that you don’t fully embrace. Rid yourself of those things that hold you back from living a purposeful life.
If something doesn’t have meaning or value in your life, if it doesn’t add to your life but takes away, why are you hanging on to it?
Forgive yourself and forgive others for past wrongs- those things are in the past. Holding onto resentments holds you back.
Live in the moment
Life isn’t lived when…. when you get the raise you deserve, when you have the car you always wanted, when you find love.
Life is lived in this moment, enjoying what you have here and now- not what will be in the future, what is today.
Stop worrying about everyone else
It doesn’t matter what anyone else is doing. What matters is what you do!
It doesn’t matter what anyone else is thinking. What matters is what you think about you!
Keep living the good life!
The good life is the life you live today. Live it today and do it again tomorrow.
Keep practicing. Keep learning. Keep exploring. Keep thinking. Keep choosing. Keep living. Be intentional in all you do!
Image courtesy of F.C. Photography
I love your comments! Are you living an intentional life? What does living intentionally mean to you? How can you be more intentional today?Join the Conversation
Are you feeling worn out? Burned out? Beat down? Let’s face it, sometimes life is tough. When times get tough it’s especially important to take care of ourselves.
I’ve been dealing with a particularly difficult work situation the past few months. The intellectual and situational stress of my job have taken a toll on me. I’m doing my best to take care of me but, I’ll be honest, it’s not enough. I’m suffering from job burnout. I’ve taken steps to improve my situation and in the meantime it’s more important than ever to be kind to myself.
An added benefit of being kind to myself is an increased and natural capacity to be kind to others. Don’t we all deserve a little kindness? Yes, we do!
33 Ways To Be Kind To Yourself
01. Adjust your expectations
Sometimes I need to adjust my expectations. I enjoy life more when I am mindful of what I do, not what I get. One leads to happiness and the other, more often than not, leads to frustration. I control what I do, I don’t control what happens next.
02. Let one thing go
I admit it, I care. I care about all kinds of things. Sometimes I care so much I cause myself a little bit of pain. But for all the cares I pick up throughout the day, I can always put one thing down.
03. Set boundaries
I get in trouble every time I fail to set boundaries. Without boundaries I am stressed out, burned out, and unhappy- that’s no way to live! Boundaries are the ultimate form of self-kindness. I can set boundaries any time, any day.
04. Get a good night’s sleep
I don’t know about you but I barely function without a good night’s sleep. When times are tough I need sleep more than ever! Yeah, I’ve been known to go to bed at 9pm every night. What? Girl loves her sleep!
05. Listen to music
I choose music to suit my mood- mellow, happy, relaxing, energetic- whatever I’m feeling I have a favorite track that imbues good feelings.
06. Be happy
I don’t need everything to go my way to be happy, all I need is to celebrate whatever happiness exists in this moment. I can cultivate habits of happiness that carry through to difficult days. Happiness is always there, whenever I choose to embrace it.
07. Be silly
A little silliness is the best medicine when I’m taking life too seriously. I might make run around in circles, wave my arms, do a funny dance. I can be spontaneous, be ridiculous, and just plain silly!
08. Take a nap
You already know I like my sleep, and some days being well-rested takes more than a good night’s sleep. Some days a nap is in order to get me through the day. When I nap I wake up refreshed and clear-headed.
I hold my stress in my body. My jaw clenches and my shoulders tense. Moving my body regularly breaks up the tension and provides and outlet for my stress.
I can ride my bicycle, take a walk, or dance along to a favorite tune. Exercise doesn’t have to mean going to the gym- just moving my body!
10. Know yourself
A little self-reflection goes a long way. Before I can decide what I want, what I need, or what needs to be done I must first know myself. Even just a few minutes of thoughtful mediation or journaling can give me insight into myself.
I love to read! Curling up with a good book is a wonderful reprieve from the stress of the day. Reading a favorite blog can motivate and inspire me. Not a bad way to spend a few minutes of my day.
12. Catch up with a friend
There’s nothing like catching up with a good friend- it’s good for my soul! Isolation, on the other hand, is undoubtedly bad for me.
13. Take a break
Taking a break is not only rejuvenating- I actually get more done when I take breaks than when I don’t. Plus, taking breaks is a really nice way to be nice to me!
14. Ask for what you need
I’m not a mind reader and I have to assume no else in my life is, either. Whatever I need, I have to ask for it.
I love to write! Obviously, I write this blog, right? Before I wrote this blog I kept a journal. My journal was actually my inspiration to start blogging.
It doesn’t really matter what I write, only that I get my thoughts down on paper instead of keeping them churning about in my mind.
Every day I stretch my smile, stretch my body, stretch my heart, and stretch my mind.
17. Get inspired
I try to get a little inspiration every day. Sometimes I inspire myself by writing my blog post. Other days I read something inspiring, collect inspiring quotes on Pinterest, or get out there an be inspiring.
18. Do more of what you’re good at
I do something I’m good at every day. Maybe it’s sharing a smile, helping another person, crafting, planning, organizing, giving hugs, or writing a blog post. I get energized when I do more of what I’m good at.
I’ve got to have my “me” time. I might catch up on a favorite show, re-watch an old favorite, snuggle with my dogs, snuggle with my cats, or simply do nothing at all!
20. Say no
Kindness is saying no when I want to, when I need to, and when I mean it.
Laughter is life’s best medicine for whatever ails me. When all else fails me, there’s always Grumpy Cat.
22. Eat good food
When I eat well, I feel well. Eating good food is kind to my body!
23. Accept and love yourself exactly as you are
Right here, right now, I love me just as I am today. I’m not perfect and I never will be. I’m doing the best I can in this moment and that’s enough.
24. Be gentle with yourself
I can be hard on myself but, really, that gets me nowhere good. On the other hand I make more progress when I am gentle and caring with myself.
25. Celebrate your success
Every day I muster all my awesome in whatever I do. Even better, I celebrate each day’s success- from small to big. (By the way, today I won 2nd place in my Toastmasters club International Speech Contest. Woo hoo!)
26. Say yes
Sometimes I need to say no, and sometimes I need to say yes.
27. Have fun
There’s a little fun in every day! All I have to do is enjoy it!
28. Eat ice cream
There’s nothing wrong with a little self indulgence, is there? Like the ice cream sundae I enjoyed just now. mmmmmm…!
29. Do what’s right
All I really have to do is the right thing. What’s the right thing? Well, that depends on the moment. When I take a deep breath and quiet my mind I usually know what’s right. When I focus on simply doing what’s right, everything else seems to fall into place.
30. Adjust your attitude
What I experience is up to me. When I’m struggling I can often find relief by simply adjusting my attitude. I don’t have to be stuck in negative thinking, I can choose to think positive instead.
31. Express yourself
Failing to express myself will undoubtedly cause me frustration and pain. It’s important that I’m honest about what I’m thinking and feeling.
Even though I don’t have to believe everything I think or everything I feel, it’s important to recognize those thoughts and feelings exist.
I don’t necessarily have to take action- just acknowledging and expressing myself is enough. I don’t even have to tell someone else what I’m thinking and feeling- I can write it down and put it away until later.
32. Respect yourself
I used to put other people’s opinions, needs, and expectations before my own and that way of living was quite unkind. I have to believe in myself and trust myself to live a happy life. I have to respect myself so I can be someone I’m proud of, someone I admire.
33. Try again tomorrow
Some days are difficult and it’s all I can do to somehow muddle through- that’s okay, I can try again tomorrow.Join the Conversation