Setting goals is a positive source of motivation for many people. However, sometimes when we create unrealistic or unclear expectations, we end up setting ourselves up for disappointment. It can become easy to get overwhelmed by all our expectations—both those other people have for us and those we place on ourselves.

Two Ways to Manage Others’ Expectations, and Three Ways to Manage Your Own:

  1. Communicate: Make your intentions clear to the people in your life. Regularly communicate within your relationships, and be realistic with those around you about what you can contribute. Communicating expectations allows everyone to be on the same page and ensures that no one is left disappointed when an uncommunicated expectation isn’t met.
  2. Establish Boundaries: Setting and enforcing boundaries can be difficult. While we communicate expectations to let other people know what we do want in a relationship, we establish boundaries to communicate what we do not want in that relationship. Boundaries can be important to romantic or familial relationships, but they can also be essential to other areas of life, such as work. For example, setting boundaries about when you are available to work can help you avoid burning out and ensure your boss isn’t disappointed when you have to say ‘no’ later down the line.
  3. Stop Comparing Yourself to Others: Everyone is different, and we all have different paths. We achieve our goals on our own timeline, and we can’t use other people’s success as a metric for measuring our own.
  4. Reevaluate Your Goals: Ask yourself if what you are trying to achieve is realistic. Have you given yourself the time and resources to achieve it? Using tools such as goal-planning books or worksheets can help you set yourself up for success.
  5. Take Time to Celebrate the Little Things: It can become tempting to be overwhelmed by big goals and feel like you need to make enormous progress in order to celebrate yourself. However, avoid tying your self-worth to outcomes and try to attach it to your efforts. For example, it may become easy to feel worse about yourself when trying to lose weight if you aren’t progressing as quickly as you would like. But, taking time to celebrate yourself for taking small steps towards your goal—such as being proud of getting up early to work out—can help you find joy in your daily life.

Written By: Maddie Aguilar

Posted in

The Social and Health Research Center