Living Up to Expectations

I’m a huge disappointment to some people. I don’t know who exactly but I’m sure I’ve disappointed some people along to way to where I am, which is right where I want to be. 

While I may have not lived up to other people’s expectations for my life I’ve most definitely lived up to mine so I’m good. In fact, very good. 

I’ve known plenty of people who have lived a stress filled life. Much of their stress was caused by trying to live up to other people’s expectations for their life. They didn’t want to disappoint anyone. I would frequently try to help them by pointing out that they were someone too and their expectations for their life mattered most.

If you truly want a happy life the first thing you need to know is that you are not obligated to live up to anyone’s expectations except your own. Your needs and wants matter! You may not live longer but you’ll live a lot better if you do things because YOU care about them. If you do things because YOU feel they are the right thing to do. You’ll be a ton happier if you stop doing things because someone else expects you to.

Sometimes living up to your own expectations will mean going it alone. That’s okay, you don’t need someone holding your hand every step of the way. You don’t need anyone’s permission to live your life. Some people who begin your journey with you will fall way before you finish. Don’t feel bad that they are in their own path…that’s why we are called individuals. 

Don’t let anyone tell you what’s possible for you. People will try to put their expectations on you with seemingly harmless little phrases like, “be realistic.” If people like Steve Jobs had been realistic I wouldn’t be writing this on an iPad right now. Trust your instincts, only you know  what’s possible for you. Trusting yourself, believing in yourself, is the most realistic thing you’ll ever do. 

One of my great mentors once told me that every person has three versions of themselves. The version that other people think they are. The person they think they need to be, that’s the version of ourselves that we try to portray to other people. Then there’s the third version, that’s who we really are. We rarely show that person to other people, sometimes we even try to hide it from ourselves.

When we try to live up to someone else’s expectations it creates huge “gaps” between those 3 versions. Those gaps create stress in our lives. Living up to your own expectations closes those gaps. But you must be honest with yourself about what and who you want to be. You must also be willing to disappoint a few people who think they know you better than you know yourself.

The best advice I’ve ever received is the best advice I can ever give. That advice is to be you. The right people, the people who should be in your life will find you. The right people will accept you as you are. Their expectations for you will be what YOU want for yourself. The people who care about you will help you along the way. They will finish the journey with you. 

It’s hard to completely shut out other people’s expectations for your life. But the more you can live your life according to YOUR own expectations the better your life will be. 

Who Will You be Tomorrow?

You are changing. You change everyday. The events you’re involved in today change you. The people you associate with today change who you are tomorrow, big time. 

 

You are always in the process of becoming the person you will eventually be. The question is are you becoming that person intentionally or are you just letting that person develop by default? 

 

I guess the experts call what I’m writing about “Living Intentionally.” Since I’m not an expect I’ll just say that you’re a whole lot better off if you’re the one deciding the direction your life takes. 

 

Deciding the direction of your life does not happen by accident. It comes from making choices and decisions that get you closer to being the person you want to be. Step one is of course determining exactly who it is that you want to be. 

 

That sounds easy until you’re asked about your core values. Most people can’t state their core values off the top of their head. Core values are the fundamental beliefs of a person. Core values dictate behavior. They can help you understand the difference between right and wrong. If you’re unaware of your own core values then you kind of jump about from one popular way of thinking and acting to the next one that comes along. 


Some examples of core values include:

 

  • A belief, or lack thereof, in God or an affiliation with a particular religion
  • A belief in being a good steward of resources, both natural and man-made
  • A belief that family is of fundamental importance
  • A belief that honesty is always the best policy and that trust has to be earned
  • A belief in maintaining a healthy work/life balance

Most people pick up these values from their parents or someone else close to them. They might get buried beneath the surface, sometimes deep beneath the surface, but if they are really core values they never completely go away. 

 

The problem is to remain in control of your life you need to keep your core values close at hand. Not in the back of your mind but in the front on your mind where they are readily available to help you with your decision making. 

 

Before every decision you make there is a moment. In that moment, you have the opportunity to pause and think about whether the decision or action you’re about to take is aligned with your core values. A two second pause can be the difference between living in alignment with those values or bouncing from impulse to impulse.

 

Each day is as important as the next in creating the life that you want and deserve. While each day is just a day years later you’ll find that progress was made one small day at a time. One day you’ll realize that how you spent your days is how you spent you life.


To become the person you imagined yourself to be you’ll need to define your life before circumstances do it for you. Knowing your core values takes some serious effort and soul searching but the return on that effort is living your life your way. That’s something that far too few people have the chance to experience. But you can, if you’re willing to make it so! 


My Personal Mission Statement

Do you know who you are? Really? Do you know what you stand for? Really? Do you know what, with great specificity, your core values are? Really?

Those are not questions easily answered, nor should they be. They are serious questions and when you can really answer them, your life, and your life mission becomes much clearer.

Your adherence to the mission statement that you create makes your life decisions much easier and much more consistent.

You may not always like the decision you come up with but it will align with who you truly are. You’ll be less likely to be influenced by peer pressure and the latest fads. When you understand yourself, REALLY understand yourself, happiness, fulfillment, and a life you value are all easier to achieve.

I created something several years ago that has made a significant difference in my life. It’s my personal mission statement. It is indeed deeply personal but I share it with the hope that it may inspire you to create one for yourself. It’s really not the mission statement that has made the difference, it’s the time I invested to answer the questions needed to create it that has allowed me to really know myself.

A couple of things about your mission statement: It’s yours and yours alone. Don’t make it what you think other people want you or it to be. Don’t change who you are because other people don’t like something about you. I will change myself for God, for my wife, for the very few people who TRULY care about me, and for me, that’s about it. As Popeye said, “I am what I am and that’s all that I am.”

I readily admit to certain “flaws” and I work to correct those that I choose, the rest I choose to live with and those who allow me into their lives must live with them too.

So, here is my Personal Mission Statement:

To find happiness, fulfillment, and value in living I will:

LEAD a God centered life around the principles of integrity, excellence, service to others, and trustworthiness.

REMEMBER what’s important in life is God, family, happiness, free time, peace of mind, security, and wealth, not only financial wealth but also in spirit and positive attitude.

REVERE admirable characteristics in others, such as being compassionate, committed, caring, principle-centered, moral, and balanced, and attempt to implement similar characteristics in my own life.

RECOGNIZE my strengths and develop talents as a person who is responsible, trustworthy, a communicator, entertaining, generous, a leader, and a speaker.

HUMBLE myself by acknowledging that I can be sarcastic, egotistical, wrong about most anything at most any time, and narrow-minded and by constantly striving to transform my weaknesses into strengths.

ENVISION myself becoming a person who:
     Bud thinks is witty, dependable, and enthusiastic.
     Josh and Sarah think is caring, loving, giving, and trustworthy.
     Brad thinks is committed, creative, and organized.
     Vicki thinks is faithful, loving, giving, and caring.

 

Now, for those of you who know me you may not agree with everything in my mission statement, that’s okay, it’s mine, not yours. You may recognize that I don’t always live up to my mission statement and that’s okay too; I recognize that as well but I also recognize that I am a work in progress.

Sharing my Personal Mission Statement with several hundred thousand people may be one of the most giving things I’ve ever done or it may be the dumbest thing I’ve ever done… with sharing comes accountability… I guess time will tell.

If you’re willing to invest the time to honestly answer the type of “self questions” required to create your own Personal Mission Statement you will make a difference in your life. The best thing about making a difference in your life is that it’s the first step to making a difference in the lives of those you care about.

A personal mission statement doesn’t automatically make you a better person. It does however, if you take the exercise of creating it seriously, give you a roadmap on how to improve yourself.

I hope you’ll seriously consider creating your own roadmap to how YOU want to live YOUR life.