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Why Do We Expect So Much of Ourselves?

Why do we expect so much of ourselves?

Why do we expect so much of ourselves?

Why do we expect so much of ourselves in our business and life?

Sure, running your own business is a fulfilling and freeing, and a precious journey of adventure.

You bring your strength, courage, confidence into the world, writing your own rules, and creating success on your terms.

Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it?

Time and again, I see entrepreneurial coaches starting out but being crippled by their drive for achievement with perhaps a twist of perfectionism.

Don’t get me wrong, being achievement focused and wanting to do things right are important for your success…but only to a point.

It requires perspective and insight to make them work for you, rather than against you.

Here’s how to get it right…but first, some background.

How Expectations Work

Expectations are the conditions you place on yourself and others.

And as much as you set expectations, you also respond to expectations.

This is where things get tricky – because in business, you have your own expectations and also, those of your clients to fulfill.

How can you juggle both and get it right?

How You Set Expectations


When Monday rolls around, what expectations do you set for the week, and each day? And how do your expectations for business and your personal life compare?

Most entrepreneurial coaches I know want to get everything on their list finished each week.

That works well if the list is short.

But achievement-focused people tend to want to conquer Rome, by yesterday.

This is where the panic, overwhelm and brain fog kick in (and sometimes melt-downs, ‘what ifs’ and plaintive WHYS).

The reason is simple – with all that focus on work achievements, there’s no time left to meet your personal needs or for that magical thinking time (“sharpening the saw”) where creative ideas and initiatives come from.

If you’re a health and wellness coach, you may see this same behaviour in your clients at goal-setting time:

  • They set a goal to exercise 6 days per week, then only achieve 3 days and feel miserable and defeated, OR
  • They set a goal to exercise 1 day per week, then achieve 3 days, and feel on top of the world.

The achievement in either case is the same – the only difference is the expectation and the mindset that it creates.

And therein lies the solution. When it comes to setting expectations, start small.

I created a rule for myself that I would aim to achieve 3 things per week.

Those 3 things are articulated very specifically and have blocked off time scheduled in for me to complete them.

That liberates me mentally to make time for achieving in my personal life, and makes for a balanced life that feels successful.

How You Respond to Expectations

Setting your own expectations aside, it’s worth mentioning that how you respond to others’ expectations is also a defining factor in your business success.

New York Times best selling author Gretchen Rubin has determined that people have an inherent tendency to set and respond to inner and outer expectations in one of four ways.

Two of these tendency types always seem to put others first at their own expense.

If you are an Obliger or Upholder (equating to about 64% of the population), chances are you are driven to help, please, service or support other people more than yourself.

This means your stuff gets shunted to the end of the pile and may never get done.

Of course, that can seriously hamper your ability to run a business – you have no time left for essential work ON your business (non-client time) and it may also mean you have trouble asking for money.

One of the most effective ways to manage your response to expectations better is to allot specific days and times to help/support/service others. That is, you set boundaries.

It might mean that you only see clients from Monday to Thursday, 11am – 4pm.

It might mean that you only take a certain number of clients each week.

It might mean that you have set catch up times with friends/family.

Summing it up

Expectations can help you stay on track or they can drain you.

If you are achievement-focused, then you may tend to overwhelm yourself with work and other commitments at the expense of your personal life or strategic business tasks.

Try setting the bar lower and celebrating your success.

If you are someone who routinely puts others first to your own detriment, experimenting with boundaries will help you put the time you need into the business and life you want.

Try scheduling set days/times for clients, friends and yourself.

I’d love to know how you are navigating this

Are you struggling with expectations?

Contact me if you’d like to have a 15-minute conversation about switching things around.

Contact Melanie White



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Work-Life Balance – Slaying the Mythical Beast

Work Life Balance | Melanie White

With all the press about work life balance, including the fact that it’s a myth, I thought I’d chip in with my 2c worth.

Regardless of whether you believe in work-life balance or not, the insatiable quest to slay that mythical beast will probably remain.

So assuming that work-life balance is a tangible thing, I propose a definition, simply:

“spending what you feel is the right amount of time working, and the right amount of time on things that support your well-being.”

It’s up to you to define what ‘the right amount’ is and it’s fair to expect that there is some invariable overlap between the two (especially if you run your own business).

An idyllic work-life balance scenario might involve going to work, doing your job and then coming home to spend enjoyable time with family, friends, on hobbies or leisure/pleasure activities.

Well, there’s the real myth…..

Some of us have kids, some don’t.

Some of us work to live, and others live to work.

In other words, there’s no one-size-fits-all life situation, therefore, there is no one-size-fits-all scenario for work-life balance.

In context of all that, the answer to work-life balance – the sweet spot – may lie in balancing two things:

  1. your personal drive to meet expectations/responsibilities (yours/others)
  2. allowing yourself to meet your personal well-being needs.

That comes down to your personal beliefs and values –what drives you, and why that’s important.

What Drives You?

You might be the kind of person who gets up and skips breakfast to be at work on the early bus so you can finish the report you’re working on, then you work late to get it finished, existing on take-out food, then get the last bus home and stumble into bed.

In this scenario, your drive to meet a deadline, please your client/boss, cope with workplace pressure, feel adequate or be productive may take priority over your immediate health needs (eating breakfast, staying calm, exercising, sleeping well, connecting with others).

Or, you might be the kind of person who gets the kids up and feeds them (and your partner), skipping your own breakfast so you can bustle around for them, making lunch, getting them off to school/work, cleaning the house, doing the shopping and washing, organising dinner and then visiting your sick mother who needs your help before picking the kids up, making them a snack, taking them to sport and getting their homework started before you finish off dinner for the family, so you can watch the news and then stumble into bed.

In this scenario, your focus is taking the responsibility for everyone else’s well-being, such that there’s no time left for you.

These are just two of many possible scenarios….but in any case, you’re appearing unlucky last on the priorities list.

Meeting Your Own Needs

The secret to slaying the mythical beast of work-life balance is simple and fairly un-sexy.

It’s simply allowing yourself some time to meet your own needs.

Maybe that’s an hour in the bathroom by yourself on a Wednesday night.

Maybe it’s reminding yourself each day that you achieved something good.

Maybe you need to have Friday nights out with your friends to simply laugh and have a relaxing dinner.

Regardless of WHAT it is, your solution lies in deciding how important your needs are, setting some realistic boundaries around them, and finding creative ways to slot them into your day/week/life.