This holiday season I am thinking about expectations. We all have expectations of ourselves and of others. We desire that others will meet our expectations and hope that we can meet others’ expectations of us. Often times I am most stressed when I am uncertain if I am able to (or want to) meet others’ expectations of me or when someone is not meeting my expectations.
Take for instance planning how you might spend your weekend with a partner or friend; I know I often have very different expectations from my husband. I might expect a relaxing carefree weekend together as a couple, while my partner expects an industrious weekend filled with chores and tackling our endless to-do list. We might even express to each other “I am so excited for the weekend,” as we are both expecting the time spent to be “good.” When one of us is confused/disappointed that the other one is spending all their time doing chores away from the other person, we suddenly realize that our expectation of a “good” weekend, was entirely different.
The idea of expectations can also be complicated with an employee-employer relationship. When we are not sure what our supervisor’s expect of us, we can experience anxiety and doubt regarding our performance.
The word “expectation” is tricky. It is defined as “a strong belief that something will happen or be the case in the future.” Based on this definition, unless clearly articulated, expectations can easily lead to disappointment, fear, and anxiety. In a sense, expectations are unfulfilled requests. That being said, when we clearly express our desires, wants, and needs, our expectations can become requests. When we turn our expectations into requests, then we give others and ourselves the opportunity to fulfill them.
Example 1: Partner
Expectation: I expect to have a relaxing weekend.
Request: Honey, can I sleep in 30 extra minutes Saturday morning while you take the baby, and would you like to have brunch with Sam and Teresa on Sunday?
Example 2: Boss
Expectation: I expect to travel a bit for my job.
Request: I am comfortable traveling on average 3 days a month for my job, if I need to travel more than that, would you be able to tell me several months in advance?
Example 3: Friend
Expectation: I expect to plan a fun trip with you.
Request: Out of the seven days we are traveling together, can 2-3 of them be spent doing something outdoors and are you comfortable not eating out more than once a day, as I am on a budget?
When we dare to ask for what we want, we dare to fulfill our own happiness.
What will you ask for?
Wishing you the warmest of holidays,