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
Nothing seems to go quite right. Everyone and everything feels a bit off. Feelings of frustration, resentment, and discomfort rise to the surface. In the middle of it, it’s hard to shake off a bad day.
Earlier this week I had a bad day. It felt unusual and strange as it’s been some time since I had a bad day. All my best practices including blogging about loving life has given me a wonderful gift of mostly great days. (Yes, it’s possible to have a great day almost every day!)
However, even a positive attitude and best life practices don’t banish the occasional bad day. (Maybe that’s even okay. Maybe the bad days make the good days just a little bit better. )
So there I was, having a bad day. I was in a funk. I was getting rubbed the wrong way. A series of situations didn’t go my way but that in itself isn’t so unusual. Nobody really lives a charmed life, do they? Well I don’t anyway. For whatever reason, I was having a bad day.
In the middle of a bad day the best I can do is get through it though of course that’s usually easier said than done. I do have a few ideas to help me get through, and sometimes I can even make a bad day great. If nothing else, I can use these ideas to help me bounce back and have another great day the next day.
How to shake off a bad day
Yep, it’s a bad day, alright.
Everyone has a bad day from time-to-time. Accept having the occasional bad day is part of life. A bad day is just that- a bad day. Don’t judge yourself, your family and friends, your situation, or your life on the basis of one bad day. Avoid feeling more miserable than the situation calls for. Who wants to feel miserable? (If you do then this isn’t the blog for you!)
Enjoy wine, not whine.
Okay, so you had a bad day. The more energy you give to it, the more you focus on everything that went wrong in your day, the more intensely you experience your negative attitude and emotions. Don’t complain- just don’t! Trust me, it’s not going to make your bad day any better, it’ll only make it worse.
In the middle of a bad day is not be the right time to make an important decision or have a difficult conversation. Give yourself a break. Save big decisions and confrontations for a different day. This isn’t the best day to push yourself outside your comfort zone. Just for today, allow yourself to be as comfortable as possible, okay?
Give it a rest.
Speaking of giving yourself a break, in the midst of a bad day is a good time to take breaks. Take as many as you need. Even superheroes need to take breaks or they get very cranky and it usually doesn’t end well. Just ask the Hulk.
So just for me, or really for you, take some breaks when you’re having a bad day (and maybe even when you’re not!)
Be the butt of the joke.
In Stranger Than Fiction, one of my favorite movies, the main character Harold makes a list to determine if the story of his life is a comedy or tragedy. When anything awkward or uncomfortable happens, Harold puts a check in the “comedy” category. Even the worst day can be almost comical from the right perspective.
Don’t take life too seriously. Save the drama for life’s real tragedies, because you’ll have those, too.
Start over again tomorrow!
The best thing you can do when you have a bad day is start over again tomorrow. (Or even start over in the middle of your day. You can reboot your day anytime!)
Don’t dwell or linger on what went wrong yesterday. Be ready to have a great day today! Your life is what you make of it, decide to make it the best of it.
I love your comments! Have you used any of these tips? If not, which are you going to try the next time you have a bad day? How to you recover when you have a bad day?Join the Conversation
I can’t force happiness, nor can I create it by discipline. Happiness comes from within. Happiness must be nurtured to grow within me.
Often when I consider making a positive change in my life, I think about sacrifice, discipline, and hard work. What if all I really need to do is give myself permission to make choices that enrich my life?
Permission is acceptance.
Granting myself permission allows me to be who I am right now, and acknowledge who I want to be. It doesn’t require me to give up something, it encourages me to give something positive to myself.
I don’t need to be perfect to give myself permission to be happy, it’s not a reward a gain only when I’ve achieved results. Giving myself permission to be happy today accepts me as I am in this moment.
I want to share a personal story. My beloved dog Kaylo has a terminal illness and I’ve been fighting my feelings of grief. I’ve been telling myself that I shouldn’t be sad because I need to focus on making the most of the time he has left. I was trying to force myself to be happy by logic and will and it wasn’t working.
When I gave myself permission to grieve, I felt such relief. Part of me still felt sad, and yet I felt a little happier, too. Accepting my grieving as a normal and appropriate response freed me from struggling against the grief. Acceptance for my grief allowed me to feel happiness for the happy things in my life.
Permission is empowerment.
Giving myself permission allows me to shift my mindset from what I think I should do, to choosing what is right for me.
I make greater progress when I stop thinking I can’t feel good about myself until I become the person I want to be. Giving myself permission to be happy gives me the opportunity to make positive choices for myself right now.
I thought I couldn’t grieve until after we said goodbye to Kaylo, and when I gave myself permission to grieve I could chose to let go of my worry and fear. I can’t be anxious, fearful, and happy at the same time so I made a positive choice which to let go for my health and well-being.
Asking for permission works, too.
There are times I “should” myself to the point that giving myself permission to make positive choices, and be happy seems impossible. I find myself trapped by my idea of who I think I should be. When this happens, I call a trusted friend and ask them for permission to take care of myself. Everyone needs help from time to time, and an impartial perspective can be just what I need to make progress.
I was so entrenched in struggle against my grief over Kaylo’s illness I wasn’t able to give myself permission to grieve until a friend suggested I simply feel my feelings. Suddenly I could give permission to myself feel grief, and the grief didn’t seem so big anymore.
Giving yourself permission to be you nurtures positive choices and greater happiness.
Whatever you’re struggling with, consider giving yourself permission to be who you are today, and permission to make at least one positive choice for your health and happiness today. Try not to think about where you think you should be, or even where you want to be. Be where you are and work from there.
Resist the idea that positive change comes from sacrifice and discipline. You may find it easier to make positive choices and nurture happiness by empowering your choices instead of limiting them. You’ll be happier, too.
If you’re struggling and need help, ask for it. Words of acceptance and encouragement can come from someone else, too.
I love your comments! Have you ever given yourself permission to be who you are in this moment? How did it feel? What would you like to give yourself permission to do/be/say today?Join the Conversation
In the immortal words of Inigo Montoya, “I hate waiting.”
Patience doesn’t come easy to me. I’m a planner, and a do-er. Once I have decided where I want to go and set on my path, I sometimes struggle to stay grounded in today.
When I lack patience in my life, I am more likely to make hasty decisions, to sacrifice my long term goals for short term gain, and to replace gratitude with impatience.
Patience is right now.
My best life won’t happen when…, it’s happening right now. My best life is rooted in thoughtfulness and purpose, and laughter and joy in this day.
Embracing patience in life inspires happiness, gratitude, and achievement and success. Patience is quiet and calm, peaceful and present.
Patience is freedom.
When I am no longer willing to tether myself to the future, I am free to simply be.
I practice patience by being grateful for everything that is beautiful in my life today.
I practice patience when I embrace happiness inspired by my goals.
I practice patience when I am guided by my intentions.
I practice patience when I ask myself, “what can I learn in this moment?”
I practice patience when I am open and teachable.
Patience is joy.
Patience begins to come to me with greater ease when I practice acceptance. With patience I am able to live joyfully for today, knowing that tomorrow’s celebrations and struggles will be there tomorrow.
I love your comments! What does patience mean to you? How do you find patience in your impatience moments?
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As a recovered perfectionist, I used to hate making mistakes. I believed mistakes were proof of my shortcomings. I’m grateful I no longer fear making mistakes, I even embrace them!
The truth is we all make mistakes, big and small. Most of the time mistakes can’t actually be avoided because at the time they are made, we lacked the insight and wisdom to have acted differently.
Learning to make the best of mistakes is the result of greater awareness, respect and confidence. Here’s how you can make the best of your mistakes and turn them around from a negative to a positive experience.
You must recognize a mistake was made before you can take positive and productive action.
Accept responsibility for your part in the misunderstanding or error. Owning your part allows shows respect for yourself and others.
Discover what you can learn from your mistake and use it to your advantage. Embrace the opportunity to spark a new idea or awareness.
Listen to feedback.
Listen openly to any feedback you receive about your mistake. Set aside emotional responses and focus on the facts.
If you made an error that affected someone else negatively, apologize. A simple “I’m sorry” honors the experience of those affected.
If possible, take steps to correct the error or offer alternative solutions.
Sometimes there will be consequences and it’s best to accept consequences with dignity and grace. Accepting a situation for what it is allows you to be open, honest and teachable.
Don’t sweat it.
A mistake happened and hopefully you learned from it. Mistakes are allowed, no matter what anyone tells you. Believe it for yourself and you’ll be a lot happier in life.
You don’t deserve to be beat up over a mistake by yourself or anyone else. Don’t beat up anyone else over a mistake, either.
Don’t dwell on your mistakes, learn what you can and let them go. The best way to re-build confidence and credibility is to move on from mistakes and continue to do your best work.
Mistakes provide the opportunity to learn and grow. Don’t let fear of mistakes stop you from trying, and don’t let embarrassment over your mistakes stop you from living. Embrace your mistakes! Laugh at them, too. You can make the best of your experiences.
I love your comments! Do you have a difficult time moving past mistakes? What helps you make the best of it?
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