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Great expectations

Whether it’s consciously or subconsciously, we tend to measure ourselves against certain standards and expectations. These are shaped by a range of influences in our lives over time, for example, personality, parental expectations, education, work/life experiences, personal achievements and professional achievements.

Internal expectations

Internal expectations are largely within our control:

  • Am I being true to myself?
  • Do the choices I make fit with my values?
  • Do I have enough money to live as I wish?
  • Do my achievements make me feel fulfilled?

External expectations

External expectations come from external factors which are largely out of our control:

  • Am I climbing the career ladder fast enough compared with others?
  • Am I perceived as successful?
  • Do my achievements meet the expectations of others?

An honest appraisal

It can be unsettling to be constantly striving to meet expectations set by others.

Create two lists, one for each of the questions below.

  • What are my own internal expectations of myself?
  • What expectations from other people do I use to measure myself against (external)?

Compare your lists – are there any tensions between your internal expectations and those from outside?

Q. Now ask yourself:

  • How do these tensions affect my overall sense of steadiness?
  • What action could I take to reduce these tensions?

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