How to Manage Your Expectations: Escaping the Expectation Trap


Expectations are things we believe will occur, but the reality is what really unfolds. Still, expectations continue to shape our lives. It impacts all of our behaviors, ideas, and emotions, and this makes them extremally impactful. And feelings of dissatisfaction and sadness can frequently result from the mismatch between expectations and reality.

Though a few individuals are aware of the complexity of expectations, there is a good chance your expectations of yourself, your job, your friends, or other aspects of your life are causing some of your stress.

Therefore, this article examines how having high expectations might result in disappointment if reality falls short of them. It also discusses a few methods you might employ to manage your expectations and prevent yourself from falling into the expectation trap.

Escaping the Expectations Trap

High expectations can be beneficial in many ways. In fact, setting high expectations may be advantageous because they:

  • Push you to develop new skills
  • Motivate you to boost your productivity
  • Can lead to self-fulfilling prophecies

But going too far and being overly pedantic can have adverse effects. In the episode ExpectationsJenny and Jay talk in-depth about the mental, physical, and emotional stress that over-expectations can cause. 

Following the fantastic episode, here are some of the proven ways to escape the expectation trap:

Separate Your Self-Worth from Your Expectations

Nothing is more harmful than pinning your self-worth on losing a few pounds, landing a job, or reaching your GPA goal. You can never feel fulfilled if you think you deserve love, happiness, and tranquility only after achieving a particular objective (even if you do achieve it). 

Therefore, it is essential to understand that you are already deserving since you are such a nice, considerate, inquisitive, and caring person. This is not to argue that making an effort to improve yourself is not essential (it is, without a doubt! ), but rather that you cannot aspire to become a better version of yourself unless you are content with who you now are.

Set Realistic Expectations

You’re aware of the never-ending stream of social media photos featuring toned bodies, gorgeous couples, and neat kids? 

Yes, some individuals live that way, but it’s not always the case. The majority of our days are spent on routine, dull jobs. Bloggers hunch over their computers, actors hunch over their trailers, and travel writers wait for hours at airports. 

That doesn’t mean you can’t aspire to lead a remarkable, Instagram-worthy life. However, it implies that you must cherish daily inspiration and take pleasure in significant and insignificant events alike.

Build Trust 

Building on your trust with your partner, boss, friends, or customer by giving them some history on how you work can help you manage expectations successfully. For instance, while dealing with clients, provide confidence that you will always be available by explaining how you would always reply to any email within X hours. Another option is a clause stating that you’ll never send a surprise charge or that any additional work will be priced separately for them to evaluate.

Therefore, others’ trust and expectations may be better handled if you provide them a clearer idea of how you operate and what you commit to doing.

Practice Emotional Acceptance

Don’t punish yourself for feeling let down. Instead, work on embracing unpleasant emotions like disappointment or envy for what they are rather than attempting to ignore or conceal them.

Try contrasting yourself with others who possess less instead of more. Better still, avoid making generic comparisons to other people. Instead, you should only be competing against yourself.

Expectations Can be Deceiving

Finally, when you anticipate more than what is reasonable in a given scenario, your expectations may get the better of you. For example, you can have unrealistic expectations for your spouse, work, or even your life based on what you see on Instagram. You might also have unrealistic expectations for romance movies, Instagram, or your partner.

It may be pretty stressful when your expectations don’t align with reality. Think about how social media may play a significant role in this. You contrast your own worst moments—those that aren’t appropriate for sharing online—with the best—often filtered—moments of others.

How to Manage Your Expectations?

We have no control over how our brain generates expectations, but we do have control over how we respond to them and how much weight we give them. We may concentrate on figuring out how to manage our expectations better and use them by:


Recognizing when something needs to change is the first step in bringing change. When something doesn’t go the way you had expected, pay attention to your body and any abrupt physical problems that arise. 

Keep an eye out for variations between the situation in your head and the one in front of you. Recognize that you have expectations.


Successful expectation management depends heavily on communication. Once you’ve accepted your expectation, let everyone nearby know what it is. 

Ask clarifying questions to understand the situation and correct any preconceptions you might have. Then, consider if the expectation is still reasonable, practical, or significant.


Flexibility is the secret to effective expectation management. You’ve recognized having an expectation, shared it with others, and are now in a position to make the necessary adjustments. 

Your expectations can change, grow, and improve to better meet your requirements rather than being static and inflexible!

Listen to the Experts

By routinely checking in with yourself and creating manageable goals, you can keep your expectations in control. Remind yourself that nothing is flawless and everyone is fallible and prone to errors.

Take a step back and evaluate the situation if you discover that your expectations are not being met. Try to comprehend what transpired and what you can change going forward. Keep in mind that expectations are only beliefs and not always accurate.

Listen to Jenny and Jai from the Hollastic Life Podcast discussing the expectation trap and explaining how you can manage your expectations to rid your life of excess stress:


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