Part 5: Set New Expectations
Choose Expectations that are not Exhausting
There is a difference between expectations and aspirations. Personally, I got the two completely mixed up. I misunderstood the messages I heard from many accomplished professionals that we needed to set high expectations for ourselves in order to be successful. I was encouraged to go above and beyond for other people, many times at the expense of my own personal wellbeing.
I now understand that expectation is an unrealistic standard you set based on what you believe other people anticipate from you. Aspirations, on the other hand, are the great things you dream about achieving, that come from within you. These can be grand and visionary if you want them to be, or they can be smaller and more juicy. There is no timeline, no pressure, and thinking about your aspirations bring you a sense of joy and inspiration.
What is the difference between the two? Attachment.
If the expectations you have for yourself cause you stress, anxiety or even prompts the feeling of being exhausted before you begin, how are those high expectations going to serve you? If you always feel like you are coming up short, you’ll remain in that rut.
For me, it was setting aside the expectations and preconceived notions about what I “should” do. Connecting with my aspirations was a combination of what I loved doing and what I was naturally good at. The next step was to see if I could find a group of people that I could actually serve with this combination. Once I had that, I was instantly inspired.
The next step was to chart a slow and steady course. I reminded myself that Rome wasn’t built in a day, and I had a lifetime to achieve what I wanted to, as long as I took one step forwards every day. Sri Swami Satchidananda has a beautiful quote that drives this home for me: “Begin with little things daily and one day you will be doing things that months back you would have thought impossible.”
Letting go of my need to try to be everything to all people was a huge step in that process, and if I’m completely honest, eating some humble pie too. My passion and skills were still not enough. I needed focus, discipline and also had to work on self-improvement. If I wasn’t the best, I needed to learn from those better than me. Instead of looking at them and comparing myself, I had to learn from those I admired. I’m in a much better place right now.
If I feel the rut coming back, I simply need to revisit, look at my attachments and expectations and adapt, adjust and accommodate. When our physical bodies are in homeostasis, it is not simply a static state, rather a constant adjusting to fit the time, place, and circumstance. Our lives too are also a series of changing and tweaking in order to find balance with where we are in the present moment.
So if you feel stuck in a rut, depressed, blah or even lonely, please know that you are never alone. You will always be welcome into our community here in Hong Kong. All you need to do is rock up and give yourself a Hatha Yoga class, be among a group of friendly people and connect.
We all have a part of us we like and a part of us we avoid. Our journey becomes easier when we can look at both with an even mind and fully accept and embrace our whole selves.
May you be blessed with peace always.