How to Cope with High Expectations

It can be hard dealing with people who always expect you to be working at 110%. Luckily, there are some ways to cope with that pressure safely.

  • Talk about what your limits are. Some people can happily work 70 hr/ week; others can't. There's no shame in either.
  • Make sure you understand exactly what people expect of you. Their expectations might not be as bad as you think.
  • Shoot for long-term, but plan for short-term. It's great to have high ambitions for the future, but don't ignore now.
  • Learn from your setbacks. Just because you've 'failed' once doesn't mean you can never achieve again.
  • Give yourself credit for the steps you take towards complete success. The small successes add up!
  • Keep a goal journal. It will help you gain insight and understand which are realistic and which are not.
  • Delegate whenever you can. There are some things you can't control-- let go and allow yourself to relax.
  • Acknowledge your successes, no matter how small. Even if all you manage to do is get out of bed, value it.
  • Call a help line if you're having trouble coping. They're there to help you, big problem or small problems.
  • Give yourself a break. Don't let your mind settle on what you could be doing but instead see value in relaxation.
  • Know where your expectations come from; yourself, your family, or society. Decide if they are worthwhile goals.
  • Research. Taking time to understand what others have done can really help you make the best decisions for you.
  • Know that reaching your highest expectations will not make you happy. Be satisfied with your personal best.
  • Adjust to circumstances. Maybe one D will make an A in your class impossible, so try for a high B instead.
  • Make sure your high expectations are driving you to try harder, not making you feel bad. They should motivate you.
  • High achievers who use stress to succeed tend to think that works for everyone. Explain to them that it's untrue.
  • Know that failure is always a possibility. Think of your 'failures' as steps on the way to success, not the end.
  • Choose a goal that you can reach safely. If an A takes all your energy, but a B makes you happy, aim for the B.
  • Understand why you want to achieve high expectations. There are ways to get approval that are more easily maintained.
  • Don't just lower your expectations. Focus on how ambitious you are and how you can spin the negatives into positives.
  • Try talking to the person with high expectations of you. Start with... "When you expect me to ___, it makes me feel ___".
  • Different cultures and age groups have different values. They might not realize the difference. Talk to them about it.
  • Understand that those who place high expectations on you want the best for you. Ironically, it can do the opposite.
  • High expectations make people happy but the end result usually isn't as exciting. The anticipation is what people like.
  • High expectations can make you try harder, but don't forget that the highest ones are also the hardest to achieve.
  • Challenge your expectations. Would you expect the same of a friend? If not, how can you expect it of yourself?
  • Make sure other people's expectations don't burn you out. Find ways to cope with stress and guilt safely.
  • Setting yourself up for failure? Make sure the goals that you are striving towards are ones you actually want to reach.
  • Focus on what you can do moving forward, not what has happened in the past. Keep moving forward.
  • Talk to a neutral party. They can help you figure out how to best manage others' expectations and your needs.