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.