The 10-Step Plan to Lower Your Expectations (And Start Living)

When we set ourselves impossible expectations, it’s all too easy to end up disappointed and frustrated, especially when things don’t go as planned.

It’s good to have goals and aim high, but there are certain scenarios where it’s better to lower your expectations in order to increase your happiness levels and lead a healthier lifestyle overall. Below are some steps you can follow to do just that.

The Problem with Expectations and Why You Should Lower Them

If you find that you’re constantly disappointed or feeling let down, it might be time to reassess your expectations. You might be setting the bar too high for yourself, others, or life in general. Here are some problems that can arise when your expectations are set too high:

  • You’ll be disappointed more often.
  • You’ll be less productive.
  • You’ll put more pressure on yourself.
  • You’ll be resentful of others.
  • You won’t appreciate the small things in life.
  • You’ll set yourself up for failure.
  • You’ll have unrealistic standards.
  • You might miss out on good opportunities.

10 Steps to Lower Your Expectations

Step 1: Realizing That There Are No Perfect People or Situations

One of the main reasons why people get disappointed easily is because they expect others or situations to be perfect. Unfortunately, that’s not how life works. Perfection is ideal and it doesn’t exist in the real world.

As soon as you accept that fact, it becomes easier for you to stop setting your sights too high and be okay with things as they are. You’ll be less likely to get upset over small details and learn to go with the flow more.

Step 2: Detaching Your Self-Worth from the Outcome

Your self-worth should never be contingent on something external, such as your performance at work or whether or not you get that promotion.

If you do, then you’re setting yourself up for a lot of unnecessary stress and anxiety. Instead, learn to separate your self-worth from the outcome.

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No matter what happens, you should always know that you’re a valuable and deserving person –Promotions, raises, and other accomplishments are just icing on the cake.

Step 3: Letting Go of the Need for Control

Trying to control everything in your life is a recipe for disaster. You can’t control what other people do or how they react to things. The only person you have any control over is yourself.

Instead of driving yourself crazy by trying to control the uncontrollable, focus on what you can change – which is your own attitude and behavior. Let go of the need to control everything and go with the flow more.

Step 4: Accepting That Things Might Not Turn Out the Way You Want

No matter how much you plan or prepare for something, there’s always a chance that it might not turn out the way you want. And that’s okay.

Learning to accept that fact will help you become more flexible and adaptable, so you can roll with the punches more easily.

It will also prevent you from getting too attached to a certain outcome and being disappointed when things don’t go as planned.

Step 5: Giving Yourself a Reality Check

Sometimes our expectations are completely unrealistic and out of touch with reality. If that’s the case, then it’s time for a reality check. You may also want to ask a friend or family member for their honest opinion.

It can be tough to accept that our expectations are unrealistic, but it’s better to face reality sooner rather than later. Otherwise, you’ll just end up disappointed and frustrated.

Be honest with yourself and ask if your expectations are realistic given the circumstances. If they’re not, then it’s time to readjust your thinking.

Step 6: Managing Your Emotions

If you tend to get upset or disappointed easily, then it’s important to learn how to manage your emotions. One way to do that is by using positive self-talk.

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Whenever you start feeling down, give yourself a pep talk and focus on the good things in your life. This will help you reframe your thinking and see the situation in a more positive light.

You can also try distraction techniques, such as listening to music or reading, to take your mind off of whatever is causing you to feel upset.

And if all else fails, give yourself some time to cool off before taking any further action. This will prevent you from saying or doing something you might regret later.

Step 7: Putting Things Into Perspective

It’s easy to get caught up in the moment and forget about the big picture. But when you take a step back and look at the situation from a different perspective, it can be much easier to deal with.

For example, if you’re stressed out about a presentation you have to give at work, try to remember that it’s just one small task in the grand scheme of things.

Or if you’re worried about a fight you had with your spouse, remind yourself that all couples argue from time to time and that it’s not the end of the world.

Putting things into perspective can help you see that your problems are usually not as big or as bad as they seem.

Step 8: Adjusting Your Expectations Accordingly

If you find that your expectations are often too high, then it’s time to start adjusting them accordingly.

This doesn’t mean that you should lower your standards or settle for less than you deserve. But it does mean that you should be realistic about what you can achieve and give yourself some wiggle room for error.

For example, instead of expecting to get a perfect score on your next test, aim for a B+. Or if you’re trying to lose weight, give yourself a realistic goal instead of aiming for an unrealistic number on the scale.

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Making small adjustments to your expectations can help you avoid disappointment and frustration in the future.

Step 9: Hope for the best but plan for the worst

The best way to prepare for an unpredictable future is by building flexibility into your plans. This doesn’t mean you should be ambivalent about what you want out of life, but rather that you must be realistic about how you go about achieving your goals.

You can still find success, but planning for worst-case scenarios and having a backup plan are important skills when it comes to maintaining your sanity—and trying again.

The grass isn’t always greener on the other side and keeping an open mind will help keep disappointment at bay. 

Step 10: Appreciate what you have

No matter how great or small, there’s always something to be thankful for.

Focusing on the positive things in your life—even during tough times—can help you maintain a more positive outlook. It can also help you appreciate the good things, even more, when they do come along.

So, take a few minutes each day to think about the things you’re grateful for. This could be anything from your health to a roof over your head or a great friend.

Fostering an attitude of gratitude is one of the best ways to lower your expectations and start living a happier, more fulfilling life.

And when you take the time to appreciate the good things, it’s often easier to see the bad things in a more positive light.

Final Thoughts

It’s impossible to control everything that happens in life. But by lowering your expectations and learning to roll with the punches, you can make the best of any situation—even when things don’t go according to plan.

So, the next time you find yourself getting worked up over something, remember these 10 steps and try to let it go. After all, life is too short to sweat the small stuff.