Why High Expectations Go Wrong


Ever have that happen? You plan the “perfect night” in your mind and then something unexpected blows up your plans? Maybe you get a text from your ex, your bestie doesn’t show up, you and your partner get in a fight, you have a pimple you just can’t cover up, or you get asked that question you really don’t want to answer.

Instead of rolling with the new experience, you feel disappointed. Maybe you even feel like you need to down a couple drinks to enjoy yourself. Many of us have a very hard time bouncing back from experiences (especially when we expect them to go a certain way and they don’t).

I used to set extremely high expectations. This is a symptom of anxiety.

When we set high expectations, we have already planned out an entire event or exchange in our minds and we expect it to go a certain way. When it doesn’t go our way we usually experience tremendous disappointment. We don’t really know how to pivot in the situation because we are going “off book”. This prevents us from enjoying our lives and experiencing what is happening in the present.

When we live in the present moment, we don’t have any expectations, and we are ok with whatever outcome comes our way. This has been a lifetime journey of mine.

I used to spend hours playing out events in my head that hadn’t happened yet. How an event or party might look, what I would wear, how I would feel there, how I would be treated by others (would I have a great time with my partner and our relationship would be back on track?).

Often we think of anxiety as negative thought patterns and worries about the future, but I would argue it is just as dangerous with happy thoughts and feelings.

When we anticipate experiences in the future to go a certain way, we are setting ourselves up for failure. We cannot guess or anticipate how an experience might unfold. And by setting that expectation, we have a 50/50 chance of being let down. If the event does not meet our expectations then we are tremendously disappointed. If it is better than what we expected, we are happy.

Consider this - What if we didn’t do all of that thinking and prepping in the first place?

  • How would it feel to go into every party, office gathering, or event with no expectations?

  • How would it feel to live in the present moment and not plan everything out for the future?

Some levels of planning are ok. We need to plan for how many people will be at an event, and how much food to make. However, when we start fantasizing over how the experience might go and controlling that experience in our minds is when we get into trouble.

]Something that took me most of my life to understand is that so much is out of my control, despite all of my efforts for planning! People are often unpredictable. And even when we plan the “perfect time”, plenty can go differently than we expected.

So now, I focus on setting zero expectations for situations.

When we live in the present moment and don’t expect situations to unfold how we want them to, we are able to sit back and enjoy the ride as life unfolds beautifully for us.

I attended a women’s day retreat for the second year in a row this past August. I went into the day interested in certain workshops, but with zero expectations otherwise. As a result of my openness, I ended up skipping some of the workshops I was interested in and spending the day frolicking and deepening my friendship with one of my now soul sisters.

By not setting expectations in advance for how the day would go, or what workshops I would attend, I was able to enjoy the spontaneity and magick of the day!

How much better is it after an event to say, “wow, that truly blew my mind” vs. “yep, this was great just like I expected”. Life is so much more fun when we don’t plan it. When we let the magick happen, and when we sit back and enjoy the ride.

If you are someone who lives your life in the future, in a state of anxiety, planning every experience, let’s chat! I would love to help you get to the root of your need for control, and help you live from a more freeing place. Trust me, I get it, I’ve been there!

Click the button below to schedule you free consultation to see if we are a good fit to work together.

Becca Wiseman