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  • Writer's pictureEmily Breeden

Free Yourself from Expectations!

Expectations, or “a belief that someone will or should achieve something.”

They can steer your life in certain directions without you even realizing it’s happening.  They are different than goals.  Setting goals can help us achieve things we never thought possible, but setting expectations is what causes disappointment, even when you have achieved, or even surpassed those goals.

Before having my little “epiphany” and quitting my career, going to Peru, and moving to Colorado without a plan (all of which happened in the last 6 months, which is crazy to think about), I was making decisions in my life purely based on the set expectations of what I SHOULD do — whether they were my own, or those created by society and/or others in my life.

The typical expectation is to follow the safer “should” path, rather than the riskier “must” path.  (Read this to read more about Should vs. Must).  I don’t believe the “Should” path is for everyone.

In another blog post I talk more about the external expectations and pressures… However, I think the expectations that cause disappointment are more internal to what WE put on ourselves.

Whether it was obvious or not, I used to be a lot harder on myself.  I never felt like I was good enough at anything I did, even when I had people telling me otherwise.  When I was brand new in my sales job, I had a manager that was very positive about my work performance during monthly reviews, but for some reason I didn’t believe her.  No matter what she (and the numbers) said, I would still mentally talk myself DOWN right after she had talked me up, because I doubted myself that much.

My own internal expectations (my mind) have always dominated the external ones (other people telling me what I should be doing).  Even after becoming more self-aware of it and letting go of them to follow my heart to Peru, and then to Colorado, I could see it happening again.  After getting to feel like a hero in Peru for 8 weeks, coming home was not easy.  The pressure started building up again immediately when I landed back in the States.  What am I going to do next?  How can I “top” what I just did in Peru?  

It is IMPOSSIBLE for me to sit and do nothing, and I needed to find something to be a part of and a goal to work towards when I got to Colorado.  Since yoga has changed my life for the better in countless ways, I decided immediately to sign up for a Yoga Teacher Training.

Then I started thinking about my “next big move”… I have to start a non-profit to benefit kids in Peru and other third-world countries who have no education… ASAP!! 

I started frantically researching non-profits vs. for-profits and how to start them.  Obviously, a LOT of work, planning, and money.  I of course realized I can’t do ANYTHING until I save up money again.  So then I started frantically searching for jobs.  I started applying for every job out there, even the ones I KNEW I’d hate (like selling Direct TV subscriptions and insurance…. WHAT?!) just because I was so scared of the “gap” that could potentially form on my resume.  It felt like a horrible clock ticking every day… I was getting desperate, and could not get myself to let go of expectations that I had to find a “real” job asap.  I was in a horrible funk, and even yoga didn’t seem to be helping.

Then, within one day, things started to turn around… This is why I love the universe.

Receiving an unexpected message.

First, on a day I was feeling especially bummed out and lost, I received the absolute sweetest and best message from an old college friend I haven’t seen in years, out of the blue.  She told me about her life and how we are totally on similar paths (she had quit her well-paying IT job in Chicago, is happily working at a restaurant despite her family’s complaints about “not doing enough with her college degree,” is planning to learn how to instruct yoga, and is putting together a business plan for an organic food store… so cool!!)  Her message made me realize I am not the only one going against what others expect, and also reminded me that I don’t HAVE to get a job that requires a college degree and long-term commitment right now; why NOT look for a waitressing job for the summer?  I loved waitressing back in the day.  Plus, I’d rather have something flexible while doing my yoga teacher training (no pun intended…hehe).

Picking up the damn phone, and calling a friend.

Another thing that started bringing me out of the “I’m a hopeless loser now that I’m back from Peru” funk was simply talking to a couple good friends on the phone.  Everyone just texts nowadays, even though you cannot truly connect with someone over text messages.  My feelings of desperation, fear, and self-doubt quickly dissipated after talking to some friends who reminded me that OMG…I’m human!!! and I need to take things one step at a time.  As one friend said “You just got out of a blender and are trying to get on your feet again.  Give yourself some credit and don’t rush into some stupid job you are going to hate, out of fear.”  Seriously, having good friends you can go to when you’re feeling like crap is so essential in life; I’ve never realized just HOW important until this experience.

Facing rejection.

Despite having a college degree, almost 7 years of professional experience, AND waitressing experience, I was terrified to look for a waitressing job.  I felt like a “failure” and expected everyone to ask me a million questions about why I would go from a pretty good “real” job to working at a restaurant.

I believe having that attitude alone is what got me rejected from the first several places I went to.  Yes, I got rejected many times!!!  Looking for a waitressing job!!  “We just hired 5 new waitresses, sorry.”  “Come back in two weeks.”  “Sorry, we only need a hostess and that’s minimum wage.”  “You don’t have the background we are looking for.”  “No, we are not hiring.”  — I had gone from being a successful consultative sales professional in the business world, to someone who couldn’t even get a waitressing job.

Finally, I had no choice but to change my attitude, tell my ego to humbly STFU, and free myself from expectations.  

After hitting “rock bottom” when it came to job-searching here, I knew things needed to change.   I realized I HAD to stop being scared, and free my mind of expectations and worries of what anyone else thought of me.  I told myself I wasn’t coming home until I had a job.

That day, I decided to venture out to a BEAUTIFUL country club overlooking the Garden of the Gods, that I randomly saw in a pamphlet and thought looked amazing.  My mind kept trying to shoot me down saying “You’ll never get a job there” but I told it to shut up.  I was feeling excited at the thought of working there, rather than like an idiot who’d probably get rejected.  I walked in there with my resume, asked for the manager, and told her the same thing I’d told everyone before that (“Hi, I’m new to town and am looking for a great restaurant to waitress at… Are you hiring?”) but the difference was my attitude.  I mentally FELT like I was going to get a job there, and could hear the excitement in my voice.  Even when she told me “Sorry, you need to apply online first and then come back another day” I didn’t care… I kept chatting with her more, confidently expressing my excitement until she finally said “You know what, apply online tonight, let’s have an interview tomorrow!”  Long story short, I got the job the next day. 🙂

All this is to say…. It’s extremely hard to let expectations go, but when you do it, you can truly start living.

…Maybe I will do something “BIG” someday, like starting a non-profit or going back to South America.  Maybe I’ll teach yoga after my training, and decide I love it and want to keep doing more of it.  Maybe I’ll go back to a “real” job again and end up liking it.  Or all of the above!  And guess what???  I have NO expectations anymore, and WILL be happy with whatever happens!!

Finally, Here’s a good article  I found you’d like to read more on the topic.  That is all.  Namaste 😉

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