High Expectations - Creation.begins

High Expectations

Hands solving a Rubix Cube
Getting Things Done
7 March 2024
The back of a traveling hiker showing a full backpack with bed roll
Radical Self-Reliance
21 March 2024
Hands solving a Rubix Cube
Getting Things Done
7 March 2024
The back of a traveling hiker showing a full backpack with bed roll
Radical Self-Reliance
21 March 2024

Reach for the stars, pilgrim! We all get told as children to dream big and live with passion, but inevitably every child grows up to be a dullard adult with severely limited dreams and mundane excitements. The vast majority of humans steadily reduce their expectations for their lives as they age, until their daily lives are just one similar day after the next with minimal excitement.

On the other side of the coin, we see a minority of adults (relative to our almost 8 billion populace) who have set higher expectations for themselves and, more importantly, are achieving what they’re setting out to. Because, you see, your life, like all our lives, will be as you expect it to be. Expect life to be filled with disappointments, and that will be the life you live. Expect life to delight you, and that is what you will live. These adventures will be filled with various nuances that come with the intricacies of life, too, of course, but you can very definitely notice a trend between expectation and receiving.

People who aim high may not always hit their targets but they will achieve better than those who aim lower. And, yes, not everyone who shoots their shot gets the gold. It takes a special level of stubborn commitment to your dreams to keep going, but that is the key, too. There are numerous real life stories of people who tried hard all their lives and only achieved grand success in their 60s or 70s or 80s. The point is they still did it, and they likely wouldn’t have had they given up.

“Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.” This adage encapsulates the power of setting high expectations for ourselves, and giving ourselves the opportunity to achieve great things and reach new heights. But we are also impatient little brats and it makes more sense to figure out how we can cultivate the habit of setting high expectations, and also attaining those goals.

man holding a mug and reading book with page open to an inspiring entrepreneurial quote opposite a portrait shot of Richard Branson

photo by Austin Distel

Fostering The Habit

The underlying factor to having higher expectations for your life is believing that you are worth it. Do what you can to work on your self-worth and esteem, and practice increasing your value in your own mind. It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks you deserve; their opinions don’t affect your life unless you let them. What matters is what you think of yourself. What do you think is possible for you? What do you believe you can experience?

Visualize your ideal life. Really take the time to imagine what you life can be in twenty years, or ten years, five years, one, right now. Consider what your life looks like from the outside in. What goals have you accomplished? How do you feel? Visualizing your ideal life can help you identify and clarify your goals, determining whether they really are what you want. Write down a list of all the things you want to acquire or achieve or become. The small things and the big things. A nice car, a nice house, good friends, travel goals, career goals, relationship goals, put it all down.

Break down your ideal life into smaller, more manageable bite-sized goals that are easier to work towards, and easier to believe you can achieve. By breaking down your goals into more specific and achievable objectives, you increase your chances of realising them. The key is to make the steps small enough to be believably achievable. The more you prove to yourself that smaller steps take you quicker to bigger goals, the more you will allow yourself to expect even bigger goals.

As your believe in yourself and in what is possible for you improves, it will become easier to create practical action plans for yourself. Having action plans also help you stay on target and hold yourself accountable. Afterall, this is your life and achieving the goals you’re aiming yourself towards benefit you most. It would make sense to commit to them fully.

The crux of an action plan is to determine the practical steps to take you from where you are to achieving a particular goal. The next steps are either clear towards the objective (such as putting a down payment on that new sports car) or they are about tackling an obstacle towards the objective (such as figuring out the side quest that will net you the money to be able to put on that down payment). Sometimes the side quests need additional side quests to be finished first, and they will all be mostly unique to your situation and abilities. Sometimes the side quests are simply (or not so simply) improving specific abilities that will help you to further your main quest.

Keeping on track can in itself be a challenge, too. Since we are often surrounded by people who don’t necessarily have high expectations for their own lives or their world, it can take a lot of self-discipline to remain on track. We often hear about how highly successful people skipped on social times in favour of working on their dreams. That’s kinda the price to pay. Prioritise your needs and desires and your action plans, and maintain the path towards your dream life.

That doesn’t mean don’t have fun. Have as much fun as you can, just have fun in the direction of your successes. Acknowledge your wins, and celebrate your progress along the way. Recognizing your accomplishments will motivate you to keep going and aim even higher. It will also inspire others to commit to their own life goals. As you remain steadfast on your path to greater things, expecting the best for yourself as much as possible, you will rendezvous with other people who are also as committed to their individual dream paths. And as your social circles change to being filled with more people who have higher expectations for their own life experiences, you and those people can inspire and support to each other in your quest for great lives.

human meditating on wooden deck at sunrise

photo by Jared Rice

Living with High Expectations

Setting high expectations is one thing, but living consistently with them is another. It takes practice and discipline and commitment. You don’t want to overwhelm or exhaust yourself like you do when you’re working on other people’s goals. You want to enjoy the journey, happy to be busy doing what benefits you and yours. You will know from your own experience that when you are engaged with something that truly excites you, that you are passionate about, you often have to force yourself to stop and eat or sleep. Your own life and dreams should be something that you’re passionate about.

Be kind to yourself and recognize that mistakes and setbacks are all a part of this process. It may be an exercise in figuring out what you’re passionate about, and in discerning what is truly important to you, and what can be weaned out of your life. Be compassionate and understanding with yourself as you would for any loved one. This is not a straight line journey. No journey ever is. Allow yourself to meander and wander and learn more about yourself and the world you have access to.

Prioritize self-care on top of this. This is your life, so don’t treat yourself like an evil boss treats their employees. Take care of your physical, mental, and emotional health by getting enough sleep, eating well, exercising, and practicing mindfulness or meditation. Treat yourself with care and love. Even the fastest sports car needs to be serviced and maintained and rested regularly. Expecting the best for yourself includes expecting the best conditions, the best support, and the best environments for yourself.

As you determine what suits you better, it is important to let go of what doesn’t benefit you. Learn to set and maintain boundaries that keep you safe and that help you progress towards your dreams. Learn to say “no” when necessary to avoid overextending yourself, or reverting to old habits that aren’t catering to the realisation of your goals.

Finally, don’t be afraid to seek support or guidance from others when you need it. We are not islands and we cannot be great at everything. Learn to identify where you need help, and ask for it. This can also be a process of getting to know yourself better, developing the network or finding a network of resources, and allowing yourself to accept the help of others.

laughing child on a wire bridge, wearing a t-shirt that reads "Future Leader"

photo by Kiana Bosman

Increasing Your Self-Worth

How much you value yourself and your dreams will directly affect your commitment to those dreams and how you treat yourself along that journey. The more you work on increasing your esteem and believing in your dreams, the higher your expectations rise. On the plus side, as you cultivate the habit of setting and achieving high expectations, you’ll also likely notice a boost in your self-worth.

This is because achieving more of your goals, from the small ones to the big ones, will give you a sense of pride and satisfaction, boosting your self-esteem and confidence. This is one of the reasons why focusing on those baby steps are so important. You’ll develop a greater sense of accomplishment as you work your way through that list. Celebrate all the little wins; every one of them is a step, no matter how tiny, towards the achieving of your bigger goals.

You will also prove to yourself that you are more resilient than you may have thought. The journey towards your dig dreams are fraught with failures. This is all part of the process. You have to figure out where you need to grow, and failure lets you know what you still need to develop or work on or get help with. Overcoming all of these obstacles and setbacks will help you develop resilience and a growth mindset, because you will eventually realise that you can keep getting up, dusting yourself off and trying again. Learning from your mistakes and failures is how you grow and become better. Far too many people are scared of this part of the process and never progress beyond it.

While you, on the other hand, will become more self-reliant. You will prove to yourself more and more that no matter what, you will find a way or a person or some other solution to your challenges. Setting and achieving more and more of your own goals will increase your independence and self-reliance, as you figure out that there are no doors that are closed to those who are passionate and driven. And even those doors that are closed cannot stay closed forever.

And as more and more doors eventually open, you’ll develop an even more positive outlook on your life. The process of setting and working towards high expectations, and seeing the results of having this mindset and attitude, can help you develop a more optimistic and hopeful outlook on life. This becomes a self-perpetuating cycle as your positive attitude attract more of the people and situations and circumstances that benefit you, causing you to be even more positive, attracting even more positives.

By setting high expectations and working towards them with self-compassion and perseverance, you can increase your self-worth and build a brighter future for yourself and those around you. This is a given. It’s not about suffering and unnecessarily struggling in the same way that many are and achieving very little for themselves. This is about figuring out and allowing yourself to find better and more beneficial paths towards the experiences that are important to you, and turning away from those experiences that aren’t benefiting you. It will take a little bit of unlearning and re-connecting with your real dreams, and some work on being your best friend again and developing a more positive and expectant outlook, but is that not worth it? Everyone says that nothing comes without a price. Let the price of your dreams be the releasing of your chains to your society.

This is your life, and you deserve the best of it. Expect that best everyday going forward.

landscape view of ocean against cliff

photo by Loic Leray

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