Expectations Rob Me of NOW

I need to get out more- have more conversations with people around me, because what I notice when I take the time to have real conversations, there is a lot of anxiety in the world right now.  And even though I think I am the only one engaged in the act of self-judgment, it is alive and well in our society.

I have been thinking a lot about expectations, mostly the ones self-imposed that create self-judgment. The topic of expectations has come up several times this week, in coaching sessions and in a mastermind group.  While there is some level of compfart knowing I am not the only one judging themselves, it is hard to see when you are talking to someone you care about.  A client says, “I didn’t expect my life to look like this at this age.  I thought____ would be different.”  A colleague says, “I spent all this money to move my business in this direction, and I am frustrated that it is taking so long.” I can feel my own anxiety around this in my own life.

Maybe because it is already February, it is easy for me to look at where I am and think to myself, “I should be further along by now.”  Further along in my business, in my healing, in my solving the world’s problems…. (Just checking to see if you are reading!)

The difficulty here is that we are judging ourselves by the standards the world has set, and not by the intrinsic growth that is taking place in us.

It is easy to see by the numbers that my business isn’t yet financially successful, but it is harder to see all the learning that has taken place.  When one is a solopreneur, and I wear many hats, I am on a steep learning curve- from business management, inventory and profit margins, creativity and commissions, to challenging and changing the limiting beliefs that say you can’t be successful as an artist. It is hard to give myself credit for the internal growth, especially if the results on the outside don’t yet match up.

While I can measure how much my business grows from quarter to quarter, year to year, ( in non-Covid times), it is challenging to measure how my productivity and creativity increases when I take more time to grow me.

When it comes to healing, it always seems to be two steps forward, one step back.  I am doing a lot of internal healing, even if it isn’t showing up as physical healing yet.  I am listening to an awesome book called “It didn’t Start with You” about family trauma.  I highly recommend it.  I also just finished reading Anxious People by Fredrik Backman.  It was a beautiful novel to remind me that everyone is carrying something they are anxious about.  We are all in this world together and it isn’t always an easy place to be.

The world doesn’t always see the value in self-care time, but as a highly sensitive being, I know the only way to make my day flow is to start with several mindfulness activities that actually lead to better focus, higher productivity, and more creativity. I absolutely have to take time for myself in the form of journaling, meditation, prayer, yoga, nature walks, alone time.   And the busier I am, the more time I need to regroup and breathe, and trust that nurturing myself always nurtures my business.

There is an old Zen saying that says, “You should meditate each day for 20 minutes, unless you are really busy.  Then you should meditate for an hour.”

What if, instead of setting an expectation of what something should look like, we focus instead on our inner feelings.  Will I feel satisfaction, elation, joy, peace, love when I have come to the end of my year?  What if those feelings come but in a way that doesn’t look like the path I had in my head?  What if I allow myself to experience all the good things, and trust that Divine Guidance will lead me to the best path, and show me things I cannot even imagine at this moment?

Here’s what I have learned about expectations.  I am either stuck in the past, wishing things had turned out differently, or worried about the future, and hoping I can reach the expectation I have set for myself. Unrealistic expectations rob us of our ability to be in this present moment.  We can’t experience the joy of what is, this moment, right now.


Present to the Unfolding, Jan Haas, The Joy Artist
Present to the Unfolding, Jan Haas, The Joy Artist