Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Realistic Expectations

We expect so much of ourselves and often we stand in our own way with our unrealistic expectations of what can be achieved and what we can do.

Years ago I taught a parenting course on children’s self-esteem and one of my favourite sessions was the one on realistic expectations. Children don’t question whether our expectations for them are accurate and so if we aim too high for them, they fail, and if we aim too low, they fail also. In parenting, it is therefore key to have some understanding and knowledge of normal child development and the ages and stages that children go through, because with these tools in our back pocket, we can be more realistic about what our children can accomplish and as a result they flourish and grow, not hindered by unrealistic expectations.

So perhaps we need to take a leaf out of our parenting books, and develop some realistic expectations for ourselves, because as adults, we are constantly raising the bar. Last night one of our panel members shared how trying to juggle two young children and a thriving business caught her off kilter. No wonder – that’s a lot for anyone to manage – yet she thought she could.

But as she found, when she stopped, caught her breath and focused on her priorities - a toddler and infant baby – her customers were willing to wait. When you set boundaries and limits, it protects everyone. If you are good at what you do, people will wait, they won’t just switch to someone else.

As I listened to her share this experience, it struck me that when you have the courage to reveal your vulnerability, your truth, you seem real. I know the women in the audience identified with the situation and appreciated her honesty.

The truth is always simple, but living it is not always easy.

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