How to manage unrealistic expectations

Laptop - Unsplash - mikayla-mallekI have a real bad habit of having multiple tabs open of partially read articles: recipes I’d like to try; items I’d like to eventually purchase. At present, I have 21 tabs open and that’s just one of my laptops (why does a person need more than one laptop?). They sit there, looming, asking to be dealt with, waiting to be closed. And yet, I leave them open. Expecting I will get to them, assuming something terrible will happen if I don’t. I have the unrealistic expectation that if I don’t click on every tab and read every article or deal with every item, I will miss out on something. The fear of missing out is great in this one.

It’s likely a reflection of my present mental state: my attention being pulled in so many directions. And because I’ve been feeling so harried over everything I (feel I) have to do, to accomplish, to try, to buy, to study, to work out, to be the best me, I’ve had to carve out some serious ME time to mitigate the nuttiness that is life; that is the daily to-do list.

Sometimes that ME time involves seeing the live action movie of Beauty and the Beast a second time.

When people ask me how I am, what I’ve been up to, I try and not reply with busy. I don’t like busy. I don’t like what it implies. And that, to me, is what the above conjures: a frantic harried person running around accomplishing SO MUCH because that is what, I believe, the western world expects of us. If you accomplish X, then you’re successful. We are programmed to have mile-long to-do lists, to plug in, nose to the grindstone, and work it all out.

And what if you simply don’t read all those open tabs? Skip the gym? Take a day to yourself and not cross a damn thing of your forever growing to-do list?

I suppose it depends on your list (I mean if your goal is to save a life…). But really, nothing. Nothing happens. Except perhaps the inevitable feelings that arise within you of your lacking ability to check off all those boxes on your list. Your expectations weren’t met and now you have to deal with the aftermath of the negative Nancy part of your brain letting you know just how much of a let down you are.

It’s so silly.

And while in the past, I’d likely succumb to such self-loathing, the slightly more evolved and aware me, does not. Or at least, I’m much more reasonable with what’s on my lists to start that I don’t have such unrealistic expectations I’ll later have to address.

And sometimes? Sometimes I don’t even make a list.


An article, and soon to be closed tab, I enjoyed reading and think you might too, is on managing expectations: How to Relinquish Unrealistic Expectations.

Why I like it: 

After reading some of the examples the author lists regarding expectations, I learned that I have expectations I didn’t know I had. #awareness

Some examples of expectations

  • They follow this format: “If/then…” For instance, “if my partner loved me, then they’d know how I’m feeling.”
  • “It’s not OK to be depressed or anxious.”
  • “The world should be fair.”

A quote I liked: expectations vs goals

… we believe it’s helpful to set high standards for ourselves, Snow said. We think these expectations motivate and inspire us to accomplish our aspirations, she said. We also worry that in the absence of unrealistic expectations, we’ll just “sit around and not meet any goals.”

The article proceeds to list just what can be done to relinquish those pesky expectations.

  • Practice compassion;
  • Allow for flexibility;
  • Reflect on the effects of your expectations; etc.

Add reading the article to your list today. If you get to it great if not, that’s okay too.

No expectations over here!


  1. Henry van der Sluis
    April 12, 2017 / 2:57 PM

    Wow Julia, this must be genetic and you’ve inherited it from your father. At least your dealing with it comprehensively now. I do it in fits and starts and just devolve into ignoring things but that leaves an unsatisfactory feeling of not measuring up to your own expectations.

    • Julia
      April 12, 2017 / 8:46 PM

      The struggle is real. Wouldn’t trade my genes though!

  2. April 8, 2017 / 4:12 AM

    Haha I currently have well over 20 tabs open across three windows. Some of them have honestly been open for weeks. I think if I had a to do list I’d do better, but instead I just do what I can and leave the rest open for tomorrow lol.

    • Julia
      April 8, 2017 / 8:22 AM

      Ha! For tomorrow or for the next month. We live in such an information burdened world!

  3. Jane Allison
    April 4, 2017 / 11:09 AM

    Once again Miss Julia, so well written and insightful. Keep it up!

    • Julia
      April 4, 2017 / 6:49 PM

      Thank you!

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