Setting self-expectations is beneficial to your life, but they must be realistic. Positive self-talk, practicing gratitude, and letting go are just a few ways you can focus on improving your life and well-being.

Self-expectations can provide clarity, direction, and accountability. These expectations should be realistic and focus on your long-term goals. It can be hard to navigate expectations, but some tips can help you find success.

The downside of self-expectations is that they can lead to avoidance, confusion, or fear. Without positive ways to set and maintain expectations, you might experience obstacles that prevent you from accomplishing your goal.

While the expectations can be hard to manage sometimes, they set you up for success. You’ll know what to strive for and always have your goals in mind. These expectations also allow you to control your success and well-being.

When setting self-expectations, being realistic is essential. You might set yourself up for failure if you aren’t being realistic. Consider the following tips to help you set expectations that work and are achievable:

1. Determine expectations early on

When you determine your self-expectations early on, you’ll know which direction you should go. It also sets the tone for your pace and creative endeavors while encouraging accountability.

You can take some time to think about what you want for yourself and your life. Then, consider building your self-expectations around what you want from life.

2. Learn to let go

When you don’t meet your expectations, it can lead to negative feelings. When this happens, letting go can help you refocus and meet your goals.

Letting go doesn’t mean that you should ignore your emotions. Instead, it means you should acknowledge your feelings and let go as you work to overcome what happened.

You can also practice letting go of expectations for situations and other people. One way you can do this is by reminding yourself that you can’t control others. You’re only in charge of your life and might not always meet external expectations. And that’s OK.

3. Practice positive self-talk

When setting self-expectations, you might consider how you talk to yourself. If your thoughts and self-talk involve negative remarks, it could interfere with your ability to accomplish your goals.

Your thoughts can make you feel good or bring you down. If you experience negative self-talk, try shifting your mindset and rephrasing the detrimental thought process.

You can also consider keeping a journal when negative self-talk creeps in. Write your thoughts and feelings, giving yourself time to examine your words. You may also consider using your journal to:

4. Give yourself time and grace

While it’s good to set deadlines, setbacks happen. You might not accomplish your goals in your planned timeframe, and it’s OK.

Giving yourself time and grace allows you to reach your goals and live up to your expectations without experiencing burnout.

Choosing to push back deadlines or extending your timeframe can be beneficial, even if the vision takes longer to manifest. Feeling frustrated might make you feel like you should go faster and work harder, but it’s not a realistic plan.

Sacrificing your rest and leisure time can interfere with expectations of yourself and your life.

Realistic expectations involve flexibility. Rigid expectations aren’t always realistic because you never know when things can change. Consider giving yourself the chance to change the plan to accommodate your situation.

5. Focus on what you’ve accomplished

Feeling frustrated with yourself can lead to unrealistic expectations.

If this happens, you can think about what you’ve accomplished, helping you keep things in perspective. It can help you find pleasure in what you do, knowing you’ve developed along the way.

6. Appreciate what you already have

When setting self-expectations, you can focus on appreciating what you already have. Rather than thinking about what you want, you can consider the things you love right now.

Focusing only on what you want can make you forget the good things in your life, disrupting your well-being.

If you don’t stop to embrace what you have, it can leave little time for hobbies, your friends and loved ones, and small joys in life. Focusing on the present can help you recognize ways you’ve already reached your self-expectations.

7. Build confidence

Having self-confidence can help you overcome challenges positively. It’ll help you set realistic expectations as you recognize what you deserve and are capable of.

You’re more likely to ask for what you want when you feel confident. It can also help you pursue your passions, helping you fulfill the expectations you have for your life.

A large 2020 study of 674 students of Mexican origin between fifth and eleventh grade, suggests that students with higher self-esteem showed improvements in their grades. In turn, getting better grades and test scores can increase self-confidence.

You’re not the only person who has expectations of you. Other people in your life might impose unrealistic exceptions on you, disrupting your peace and well-being.

Your relationships come with expectations, although some might be subconscious. Relationships come with hopes for yourself and others, so the people closest to you might want you to live up to their ideals.

You don’t have to feel pressure and accept these expectations, as finding ways to cope with them can improve the situation.

A large 2021 study of Americans from 18 to 29 years old, found a positive correlation between falling behind in adulthood milestones, anxiety, and depression.

Studies show that not meeting the perceived expectations from peers regarding adulthood milestones can possibly increase anxiety. And not meeting the perceived expectations from society and parents can increase symptoms of depression.

Understanding where expectations come from

If someone close to you has unrealistic expectations, it can help if you know where the expectations originate. They might have learned it from:

  • their family
  • society
  • personal experiences

While understanding where it came from shouldn’t change your opinion, it can help you understand the other person. Then, you can discuss how you feel differently, allowing them to see your point of view.

It can help them adjust their expectations, improving your relationship with them.

Consider if expectations are healthy

When you and the other person share healthy expectations, it can promote relationship growth. But if the expectations are unrealistic, it can hinder development and cause issues.

Determining if the expectations are healthy involves considering if they’re:

  • appropriate, fair, and harmless
  • flexible and patient
  • fulfilling
  • accepting
  • respectful
  • honest
  • productive

Keep trying

No one is perfect, and you might not meet expectations right away. If you determine that the person’s expectations of you are healthy, you can think about whether you want those things. If so, consider trying until you achieve the goal and meet the expectations.

It’s important to remember that striving to meet unrealistic expectations can interfere with your well-being. Coping with the expectations other people have for you involves considering whether they’re realistic.

Setting realistic expectations for yourself can improve your life and well-being. It involves setting standards but being honest about what you can accomplish in a specific timeframe. Realistic expectations help you improve your life and make the most out of it.

Once you have realistic expectations, you can explore what you want from your goals. This thought process might help you find that you’ve already achieved your goals. Then, you can set new ones that allow further development and fulfillment.

Setting your expectations too high can cause you to discredit yourself. Consider setting realistic expectations so you can live your best life and achieve your goals without experiencing burnout.