Over the past few months I have found myself changing my expectations for many people around me–my clients, my vendors, my friends, my kids, my spouse, my siblings. I think we have some expectations ground into us when we are young, from what our parents taught us. Then life experiences, a recession, and watching others around us moderates our long-term thoughts.
From work, I expect to slave many hours per day at my computer, on the phone, in meetings. And for those extra hours I will get more demands from clients, tighter deadlines, project piling on until I learned to say NO!, an occasional thank you. Vendors are working harder to keep up with rapid technology changes, the same tight deadlines, and the new products reaching across departmental lines.
I have learned to lower my expectations of my children’s grades, especially when they are viewable daily online. A recent conversation made me realize I was striving for unattainable perfection in them. I will accept the reality that my kids are putting in extra effort, some subjects are easier for them to comprehend, and some interest them more than others.
As they get old enough to choose their electives for next year, they need to select ones that interest them, so they can start to form their own future paths, with some open conversations about where that path might lead. Outside of school, I expect that they will make mistakes, hopefully not repeat them.
I have been married over twenty years, with many of the “normal” events of marriage shaping the adults we have become–moves, children, illness, job changes, pets, new hobbies,old hobbies, loss of friends and family, illness, planting a garden, choosing paint colors, buying a new car-a sofa-toilet paper, vacations, volunteering.
Sometimes I have absolutely no expectations, making it easy for Bob to succeed. And sometimes the everyday distractions make it possible for us to succeed together. Ever make a to-do list that’s impossible to complete in one day? One week? A lifetime? A marriage to-do list never ends. And to set sky-high expectations will only doom it daily.
From my friends I have learned to accept their offerings–a meal, a smile, a text, a phone call, a gift, a flower, a joke, a card–with grace and gratitude.
And from myself, as my abilities to do much have diminished since surgery, I have lowered my expectations for myself. I have raised the expectations for my family to contribute more with the house cleaning, the shopping, the cooking, the laundry, the dogs. Being forbidden to lift more than 10 lobs for a full 12 weeks has certainly reshaped my reality.
And tonight, my expectations for this blog post have dropped dramatically from what I envisioned while walking to what I have typed into this computer.
PS. The morning after addendum on 1/12/11 is that I realize that this list of expectations could be much longer. I have left off a myriad of people/organizations we have expectations for, who may or may not live up to them: the President, local politicians, the mail lady, the next U2 concert I attend, the grocery store clerks, bus drivers, the next episode of “Top Chef”. The list goes on.