Why you need to set your expectations HIGHER (not lower)
If your expectations are only half of what you actually want, then even if your expectations are met you’re going to be underwhelmed. Can you imagine how bitterly disappointing, demoralising and degrading it is when your expectations are already low and someone still fails to meet them?
Why are we not expecting more? Because we often don’t believe that we can demand high expectations to be met. Isn’t that utterly wretched?
High expectations are not the same as entitlement.
It’s important to radically accept that not everyone has what it takes to rise to your standards. Being ok with that doesn’t mean you accept lowball offers or sub-par work; it means you move on quickly and leave people to stay at their own comfort level of expectations.
People with high standards have high expectations of themselves first. They’re not hypocrites who demand a level they’re unable to meet either.
Part of their high standard of expectation is kindness. Even if someone can’t rise to their level doesn’t mean they treat them with contempt or ridicule. Instead they’re encouraging and look for peoples strengths, even while setting boundaries.
They’re not going to lower their expectations for the comfort of people who do feel entitled. Entitlement is all about having things you haven’t earned or which aren’t yours. The essence of entitlement is demanding others accept sub-par, lowball effort in exchange for all of their hopes and dreams.
The only way to guard yourself against entitled people is to maintain your standard of expectation. They either rise to it, or they go away and stop wasting your time.
Another upside of raising your expectations is the potential improvement in your own work ethic and achievements. Having higher expectations doesn’t mean being delusional or engaging in wishful thinking. It means that when you encounter choices between instant gratification or small sacrifices for a long term goal, you’re less likely to sell yourself short and take the easy way out.
“The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty.”
Proverbs 21:5 ESV
This is the contrast between great expectations and mere entitlement. The things which are worth holding out for, or working hard for, will test your endurance and patience.
People will try to dissuade you because they either live in fear of failure, or they don’t like to see that aiming higher is possible because it exposes their poor standards. Some people will be invested in your failure. You need to do it anyway so that at least you managed to shoot your shot instead of wimping out.
Failure isn’t the worst possible outcome: gutlessness is.
In short, raising your expectations for yourself and others is more likely to get you where you want to be, and less likely to leave you with the regret of unpursued dreams.