It’s a new year and a time when many create resolutions to get things done and accomplish goals. This makes it the perfect time for you to also reset your expectations. Why? Well for one it can help you achieve your resolutions/goals and two it can be a goal in and of itself.
This year, one of my goals is to reset expectations. This is not only for myself but of myself to others as well. How so? Well, others’ expectations of us may contribute to some of our bad habits that we want to change. For example, you may over commit yourself by always saying yes to things. You don’t want to disappoint your friends, family or even your boss so you say yes to everything, leading to a hectic schedule that can’t possibly be sustained. So if one of your goals is to get better at scheduling, you better include resetting expectations on your list. Establish your priorities and let others know, so they can understand why you need to say no. The more you reinforce this the more they will no longer expect you to do everything and anything.
Allyson: When you’re afraid of letting other people down, or missing out on things, saying ‘no’ can be rough. Reality is, it will be. At least the first time it happens. When others expect you’ll be up for anything, hearing you turn them down will be disappointing. That said, it’s certainly something that can be overcome.
Being honest and open about why you’re turning someone down will lessen the blow for everyone. This works best when you’re close with the person you’re turning down as they’d be more likely to understand your motives. If you’ve felt run down and need to have some time to yourself, be honest about it. More than likely that person will be supportive and, at the very least, understanding. I’ve done this myself during a recent spending freeze with one of my friends. They were interested in the concept of a spending freeze, and incredibly supportive, which made the whole experience lighthearted.
Another tactic I’ve recently implemented is to suggest an alternative immediately. “Gosh, I’d love to do the thing you’re suggesting, but I can’t make it. But I am free on Monday, how about you come over for dinner? I’d still like to spend time with you.” Obviously you’re still saying no to the immediate invitation, but giving another chance to be social in that moment lets the other person know you value them. Suggesting something else right away shows them you care to spend time with them.
Saying no, when you’re so used to saying yes, is definitely a skill that needs developed and fine-tuning. But if you’re open and honest with the people around you, they’ll more than likely be supportive.
I would not suggest doing this all at once, but gradually. This is the approach I plan to take. For example, I have a few personal projects that I want to work on with my free time after work. I need to reset my wifes expectations of when I am available to chat or be interrupted so I don’t get out of the zone while working.
The same goes for me wanting to change my hours at work. I am lucky to have a semi flexible start/end time to my day. For a while I have been working 8:30-5(or later), but this was a pattern established due to a project that has since been completed and was in part due to availability of other team members. Before this I worked 8-4:30 which I would like to get back to. However, it has been so long that the last half hour of the day is usually when people catch me before leaving. As I have been leaving later for so long I am still staying later as I stay to have these end of day conversations. I need to help reset my coworkers expectations on when I leave so I can get back to my previous time frame and they can still catch me before I leave (earlier).
Ok so now that we know we need to manage others expectations, we should turn to reset our own. This means that we should understand our limits and abilities to get a good idea of what we should expect. If you want to start a fitness routine but can’t even schedule an activity to reoccur daily, maybe you should expect that you will only get to they gym every few days or 1-2 a week to start.
With the new year and new ambitions we will likely find ourselves biting off way more than we can chew. Then as we miss our goals from our grand expectations we will likely will find ourselves losing motivation quite quickly. So do yourself a favor and start with small measurable and obtainable goals. Keep your expectations in check! It likely will take more time or effort than you anticipate to reach your goal, and that’s ok!
For myself I need to adjust my expectations of just how much work I can get done on personal projects in a month. Not only that but adjust it so it matches the variability of trying to reset others expectations as I know I will miss my own goals by trying to do more than I should or not stand firm with my time and interruptions when scheduling working sessions.
Allyson: I had expected I’d be able to create a fitness routine for myself quickly, that I’d be able to follow until it became a habit. Unfortunately, that’s not how habits work. They take time and patience to build. As such, I’ve reset my expectation to be something much more healthy: to build up from where I am now to where I’d like to be.
So, if it wasn’t on your list of things to do for the new year, start reseting expectations now! It should only help you achieve your goals and dreams by ensuring not only you respect your time/ability but others do too.