How Success Can Create Unrealistic Expectations

For those of you who haven’t figured it out already, I’m a goal-driven, Type-A personality, ready to conquer the world one checklist item at a time. This quality is perfect for accomplishing tasks and staying disciplined, but its horrible for the boring, monotonous, daily mindset I need to get well.

In fact, as I’ve created room in my daily life to heal from stupid Lyme disease, my relentless mind highlighted a shocking bad habit that even the Energizer Bunny couldn’t maintain.

Let me explain.

A few days ago, the clouds parted, my own personal Lucky Charms leprechaun delivered me the gold at the end of the rainbow. In other words, I had an exceptional writing day. By which I mean, I wrote the crap out of the day. I effortlessly read through an entire novella (it was pretty decent for a first draft). I sent it off to a reader (who loved it). I wrote a future blog for your enjoyment. And I pounded out a blog for a company I write for, highlighting the joys of setting goals and working towards them. I was in writer heaven. I was ecstatic with my monumental accomplishments. I thought to myself, if I could do this everyday I will be done with my novella in a month and have months worth of personal and business blogs complete. My heart raced, my face flushed, I just knew I could do it.

I welcomed my new norm. Where have you been all my life? Let’s go best seller in ten months. And . . .Hold up! Sudden, irritating clarity rushed to my mind. It cut through my new norm like a red-hot poker to the skin.

My mind screeched to an excruciating halt.

Wasn’t it just the day before I spent all afternoon in bed because of pain?

What was I doing???

Stupid, lame reality check raining on my overachiever parade. I knew full and well from past experience I couldn’t maintain this pace.

And it hit me. I do this to myself all the time.

And these impossible expectations rip the joy right out of my accomplishments. It turns my minor wins into devastating future losses.

Since I noticed this bad habit, I recognized it happening constantly throughout my day. It’s so annoying. It literally robs the joy out of my life and replaces it damaging, self-loathing pep talks filled to the brim with “shoulds”.

So what have I done about it?

Mostly I’ve tried to change my mindset.

Whenever I recognize that I’m putting a false expectation on myself (Great job, Rachelle, you emptied the dishwasher before breakfast. If you did that today, you should do it everyday for the rest of time. All you need is to push yourself. Gag!), I stop and release the expectation. And I change the thought. “Great job, Rachelle. You emptied the dishwasher before breakfast. You must be feeling better today. Woohoo!” And I leave it at that.

I’m not saying it’s easy. Stopping these innate, life-long, one-upper expectations feels like the equivalent of building a mental brick wall for the “shoulds” to ram into and crack open their mean ass skulls. Except, most of the time, those mental walls are as flimsy as straw. And those “should” barrel right through that paper-thin barrier quicker than a famished Big Bad Wolf on the scent of bacon.

But at least I’m recognizing the thoughts when they happen and can start training my mind to congratulate those successes, great or small, instead of “shoulding” on myself.

Like any good habit, congratulating myself takes time to master. Sometimes it’s “learning Latin from scratch” time. And sometimes it’s “brushing my teeth” time. But either way, it’s progress, and one day those congratulations will be so natural, I’ll bask in my unbelievable Lucky Charms success, forgetting all about what it was like to create unrealistic expectations. All it takes is one step at a time.

How about you? Do you have bad habits that steal your joy? Tell me all about them in the comments. And if you liked this blog let me know by liking, sharing, reposting, or better yet, go to my website and join my e-mail list to receive a bright, shiny new post every Sunday morning!

One thought on “How Success Can Create Unrealistic Expectations

  1. Great blog….so much truth and wisdom……wisdom I need to develop in my own life ( having been a push through it girl) I love your insights/I hate your insights -because it requires me to learn to accept certain limitations; because I’m great at recognizing others accomplishments yet criticize my own efforts. You have inspired me (kicked me in the butt) to value the good things n letting go of the the rest.

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