Goals, Expectations, and Super You

by Dian Reid-Jancic· Follow Dian on

We think we’re Superwoman and take on all this stuff we think we can do. Then we think we’re crap for not getting it done, “Oh, I’m not as great as Super-So-and-So who gets all her shit done, waaaah!” Well guess what? Super-So-and-So probably doesn’t get all her shit done, either. And if she does, it’s likely you have no idea what went on in the background to make her shit happen.

Don’t idealize others, and more importantly, don’t idealize yourself.

i·de·al·ize :: /īˈdē(ə)ˌlīz/ :: verb
  1. regard or represent as perfect or better than in reality.
    “Helen’s idealized accounts of their life together”

This isn’t about knocking yourself down a peg, it’s about being realistic with your time and your energy—managing your goals and your expectations. They are not one and the same.

goal :: /gōl/ :: noun
  1. the result or achievement toward which effort is directed; aim; end.
    “going to law school has become the most important goal in his life”

Goals are the place to dream. Big. Go for something so far out of your comfort zone it scares the shit out of you (and might even make you feel a little sick to your stomach at just the thought). Goals are not the place to get all realistic on yourself. You can always adjust your goal—bigger or smaller or swap it for something completely different—along the way.

Expectations, on the other hand, are where we need to sprinkle in a healthy dose of reality and remove unhealthy doses of fear.

ex·pec·ta·tion :: /ekspekˈtāSHən/ :: noun
  1. a strong belief that something will happen or be the case in the future.
    “reality had not lived up to expectations”
  2. a belief that someone will or should achieve something.
    “students had high expectations for their future”

When we take a look at our goals, we often second guess ourselves because we tend to throw in too much reality, too much fear, too much thinking. We tend to start looking at our expectations for our goals, confuse the two, and that’s the beginning of the wheels falling off the wagon.

::

I wanted to write a book after my father died. That was my goal. But my expectation was that it would take me just a year. I expected to take a year off of work, write and publish the book, and sell the book to an agent for a lump sum of money plus royalties.

Which was more foolish, my goal or my expectations for the goal?

I told myself that if I couldn’t write a book in a year then I wasn’t meant to write a book. That maybe I wasn’t even a real writer. I mean, a real writer would finish a book in a year. So when the end of that first year had come and gone and I hadn’t finished my book, I used my expectations against myself and my goal.

Writing a book was more difficult than I’d expected. I began writing and when it didn’t come together all at once, I thought there was something wrong with me. I began to lose sight of my goal (writing the book) and held tight to my expectation of finishing it in a year. The closer it got to the end of the year, the more of a failure I felt like.

It took me the better part of the next five years to learn that it’s the goal that matters, not the expectation. Am I working toward my goal? If yes, then great. What’s next? If not, then great. What’s next? It’s all about letting go of expectations and putting one proverbial foot in front of the other toward the goal.

::

I tend to get caught up in my expectations when I’m not actually moving toward my goal. If I’m not meeting my expectation of timeline, then there must be something or someone to blame. And since I’m writing the book (or not, as it were), I must be to blame.

When I get caught up in blame, I might as well sit in the middle of the floor and throw a tantrum like a two-year-old. Ever try to write a book (or do anything productive) while playing the blame game? It’s a basic attempt multitasking, and it doesn’t work.

Mainly because there’s no such thing as multitasking. When your mind is engaged in blaming yourself for not meeting expectations, it cannot be engaged in anything else (like, say, writing that book).

When your mind is engaged in your expectations, it cannot be engaged in your goal.

And vice versa.

This was a huge lesson for me, especially after receiving the first round of edits on Seven Days. I stayed stuck for months on how awful my writing must have been for nearly 50% of my manuscript to be cut, rather than diving back in and working on the book. That is, until the umpteenth person asked me how my book was coming along and it was too painful to lie again and say, “It’s coming along…”

That was the moment I refused to continue ignoring my goals out of fear of not reaching my own expectations, let alone anyone else’s. If I wanted to get to my goal, I had to release my expectations. Only then could I actually focus on my goal.

My expectation of finishing Seven Days in one year was not only unrealistic for me, but would have had a negative impact on the outcome. When I finally finished my book it had taken me roughly six years. If I had completed it in that first year, it would be a completely different story than what ended up in the finished manuscript. I needed time for the learning to happen and the story to come together.

::

Expectations, Schmexpectations.

Don't settle for being a mediocre someone else. Just be a Super You.When you release your expectations, you’re essentially getting out of your own way. You’re no longer tied to a specific outcome. When you’re not tied to a specific outcome, you’re leaving yourself open to possibilities unseen (and likely greater than you could ever have imagined) at the outset of your journey.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to be a Super-So-and-So who gets all her shit done because she meets her own possibility-constricting expectations.

I want to be a Super Me who creates her own path and leaves the door to possibility wide open on this great journey of life.

Who do you want to be?

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