Motivational Monday: Have Low Expectations

You might have heard that one key to finding happiness is to keep your expectations low. But on the other hand you are also told to keep goals and grind, hustle and work towards the life of your dreams.. How can these two attitudes exist at the same time in our heads and why is it important to do so?

Let’s start with the more obvious one which is the purpose of having goals and a vision for your life. If you don’t have a plan, you are almost certainly planing to fail. Goals allow us to focus our energy in a certain direction and know when we are progressing so that we can appreciate all that we have accomplished. A vision motivates us to continue trying when it is tempting to stop, which builds character and resilience.

With all of the benefits that are gained from keeping a lofty vision, what is meant when we are told to have low expectations or to let go of resistance? Isn’t this contradictory to the “never give up”, “keep on hustling” mindset? No. This attitude is not talking about lowering our standards for our life, it’s talking about not becoming emotionally attached to an outcome that is beyond our control. Visions are a combination of controllable efforts on our part and trust and faith that the other parts will fall into place. For example, if your goal is to get promoted to a certain position there are many controllable aspects that you will put effort into such as: discussing a career plan with your immediate manager, networking with people in that department, developing skills that will be pertinent in that position, and beefing up your resume with applicable experience and achievements.  However, there are so many pieces of this goal that are uncontrollable such as: the merits of the other candidates, whether or not the position actually comes available, or even if your interviewer actually likes you or not. Both the controllable and uncontrollable aspects combined bring you an outcome but the only expectations you should have about the process is what is within your control. It is a meaningless expense of emotional energy to attach yourself to an outcome that is ultimately not up to you. Another reason to keep yourself unattached to a result is because you never know what other, better opportunities may be given to you in the future as a result of something not going the way you envisioned. Life is unpredictable, and that includes being unpredictable in a good way!

Aiming high but having low expectations should be rephrased as aiming high but leaving options open because that’s really what it is. This sort of attitude keeps your motivation focused and attracts better opportunities even in the face of less than ideal outcomes. A healthy attitude toward life is to remain open and optimistic because you never know what’s waiting around the corner. Release yourself from unreasonable expectations and focus on your efforts and before you know it, life will be running towards you instead of you chasing after it.

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Why You Can’t Keep Resolutions

My plans for New Year’s Eve evening include a chilled bottle of Martinelli’s Apple Cider, deliciously warm and buttery popcorn and some much needed relaxation and pampering in the form of watching one of my favorite movies, “French Kiss” with Meg Ryan and Kevin Kline. It’s an oldie, but it never fails to get me in a good mood.
To be perfectly honest, this evening has never held any special appeal to me. I’m not one for crowds or loud cheering, so partying it up is out of the question, I need my beauty sleep so staying up late is a no, and I never wait until a new year to invite change into my life. All of this talk about New Year resolutions bore me to tears as well. Who actually gets excited about losing weight?
And yet, I admit that there is some special reflecting that happens this time of the year. I love the feel and experience of a new planner and a new year asks us to intentionally and deeply think about what we’ve done and what’s to come. But too often I see people create and rush into goals that aren’t truly exciting and enlivening to their souls and inevitably by the time we get to mid-January those goals are abandoned.
This year I challenge you to breathe some love and elegance into your resolutions…
Instead of saving more money and paying off debt, why don’t you commit to finding ways to savor quality and implement a higher standard of allowing only what you truly value into your life?
Instead of finally losing those pesky 10 pounds, why don’t you fall deeply in love with yourself by enjoying only the best foods that would be fit for a queen?
Instead of quitting drinking and smoking, let’s learn to appreciate the amazing things that our body does for us everyday and show our gratitude by making healthful choices everyday.
It’s clear which version of these goals will give you the energy to be inspired to make a lasting change in your life. As long as you approach your resolutions from a space of love and belief you’ll be led — not pushed or dragged — into whatever person you want to be.
I wish you health and happiness in this new year!
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Stop Working On All of Your Goals

If you’re anything like me, you have a lot of projects and a lot of goals that you’re trying to achieve all at once. And if you find yourself in a cycle of starting, losing steam a few days in, stopping, feeling bad for stopping and then vowing you’ll finally see a project through this time, let’s do both of ourselves a favor and end this circus.

I have discovered a more effective way of finishing my goals sans the self-doubt and discouragement. It’s so simple, yet easy to overlook in a world that demands us to be bigger, faster, stronger. Here it is:

Begin only one goal at a time and focus on mastering your process

How I used to operate is, I would have a burst of enthusiasm that was probably inspired by my procrastination and start to work on a list of things that I wanted to achieve. I would start a blog, exercise everyday, learn Arabic, create a meal plan, read a book a week, and start writing a book all at once. I would have a lot of fun planning all of this out, but the longest I’ve ever gone on this sort of regime was probably 2 weeks. Not exactly a sufficient time frame to even begin to make a small dent in that list.

The reason I would inevitably give up on everything is that I had not yet mastered the different processes for each item on that list. I was being pulled in too many directions at once without firmly establishing the rhythm of even one project into my life.

What must be done instead is start with one. For example, if I was learning Arabic at the beginning of the month I would start my process by committing to study at least 10 pages from a self-guided language learning book, or 1 exercise a day, or whatever method of measurement is the right fit for me.

After I giving myself enough time to form the habit of learning Arabic, let’s say 1 month, I can add on starting a blog. I will commit myself to that new process of posting twice a week for a month before adding on another project. If at any point, I have begun to slip in my processes, I will need to remove the very last project that was added and wait another month before re-assimilating it.

It could be that I reached my mental or physical capacity for learning and working on new things, so instead of stopping all of my projects, I can sacrifice delaying one. This way I will strengthen my capability to learn and my other projects will continue moving along.

With this method of incrementally adding goals or projects to your list, I believe you will find yourself finishing them quicker. This method is really a system that helps you learn how to learn, which is an absolute necessity for success. It’s been a game changer for me and I you should try it too — I am asking you to do less after all!

Let me know what you guys think,

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