Thursday, September 5, 2013

Goal Setting and Expectations: Not Being Perfect

For this Happiness Project, I have felt overwhelmed with what I think my outcome needs to be. The first issue I needed to tackle was my expectations. What did I want out of this? What can I do to make sure that my expectations aren't too high? I know that if I set my expectations too high, or if I fudge the rules a little bit, and don't meet them, I will NOT be happy because I will have failed myself and/or other people.

In the article, Releasing Expectations the author, Maria Maraca, suggests what we can do to help us set goals that are attainable, and that aren't based around the expectations of other people. Even though I am concerned with setting too high of expectations for myself, I find these suggestions still ring true, including:
  1. Ask yourself, “What are the reasons I want this goal or made this decision?”

  2. Take the time to check out whose voice you are hearing in your head when you consider the goal.

  3. Ask yourself, how will people close to you feel about your statement of (and completion of) this goal?

  4. Explore anything you do that doesn’t “feel good.”

Number 3 seems counter-intuitive to me. It seems that not basing our decisions on the expectations of others would include not really caring about what others think, right? However, the article argues that knowing how people will respond is not necessarily a bad thing because it prepares us for others' reactions. 


When I was single, I remember having conversations with girlfriends about first dates. I used to hate first dates because of all the unspoken expectations. I always tried to guess what my date was insinuating when he spoke, or what he was thinking. Did he want to see me again? Did he like me enough to ask me out again? What qualities was he looking for, so he would ask me out again and again? Could I be the one for him? By the end of the date, I had all these expectations of the 'relationship' based on a couple of hours. I had already determined our future, where we were going to live, our children's names, you name it. Those poor boys! I am SO sorry!


Then I went to a seminar that focused on not creating expectations. I remember struggling with this because I felt that if I didn't create expectations, I would never attain my goals. One thing I had to realize was, just because I didn't have expectations, didn't mean that I couldn't hope, and didn't mean I couldn't achieve what I wanted to. I needed to learn to 'roll with it' and realize my first commandment "It is what it is" and not just on first dates - in life. I have never really felt like I was good at 'going with the flow.' 

After reading, and re-reading my blog about failure, I couldn't help but see a theme. My last blog post is not the first time I have faced the issue of failure. In fact, it got me thinking that perhaps it isn't failure that I am concerned with. Perhaps it is the idea of not being perfect at all things. I can't say that I am perfect in anything really, but there are several things I feel like I have a 'tap' on.

Gretchen explains it very well during her tip of the week: Excellence Sometimes Requires Mediocrity. 

On another note, I take the next couple of quotes from one of the books that changed my life, Believing Christ by Stephen E. Robinson. Here are some of my favorites that are applicable to what I am feeling about 'perfection.'

" can't perfect yourself."

"...people are then made perfect through the perfect atonement of a perfect Christ."

"" be perfect in this life is to enter into the covenant of the gospel and receive perfection in-Christ."

"God does not require that I succeed....only that I do what I can." (Mother Theresa)

"...the spotters and the lifters understand that the real power is gained on the last repetition, on the thin edge between what one can do and what one can't."

"...we must learn to take satisfaction in performing at the limits of our ability (for that is where the real power is gained) and let God worry about the rest."

I know that all things are possible through Christ. Sometimes I forget that I don't have to be 'perfect' in everything - that's the rub. I always tend to run faster than I have strength. I haven't taken on the Happiness Project all the way because I want to do everything perfectly, and not admit my mess ups. Just like when I start a workout program....I don't typically tell people about it until I have crossed the 21 day habit line, because I don't want them to see if I failed or if I didn't make it. Silly me, right? 

On my way to happiness, I must realize that excellence sometimes requires mediocrity - that goal setting requires limited expectations and a sure hope of improvement. Bottom line: I have to be OK with not hitting the target all the time.

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