There are good arguments to support both sides.
On one hand perhaps you should lower your expectations because they’re too high. Examples of this could be expecting to earn £50,000 as a graduate with no experience or expecting a friend to reduce their rates even though you know the quality of their work will be more than worth it.
Then on the other hand, a reason not to lower your expectations is because you don’t want to get into the habit of settling. I think there’s a fine line between knowing what you want and expecting too much. Knowing what you want is great. Believing that it is possible to have more than you have right now even though it might take time is a pretty fantastic thing.
One of the most common reasons that people lower their expectations is because they allow the thoughts and opinions of others to convince them that what they want is unrealistic.
If that is the case, it might be worth being more selective about who you get advice from and who you choose to listen to.
Most of us start out with big dreams of what we want to do with our lives. Then slowly, bit by bit, as the years go on we start to settle.
We settle from setbacks that lower our self-belief until you’ve convinced yourself that they were unrealistic anyway.
Other times you have people tell you that your dreams are too big, that they won’t work and that you need to be realistic.
Sometimes you’re aware of it but other times you have no idea until years have gone by and you’re wondering what happened to those dreams you used to have.
It’s really easy to say, ‘That’s just how I am’.
Some people even use that as a way to justify continually being unkind to others or even themselves.
But the beauty of life is that we have the opportunity to change and overcome.
I recently wrote about not feeling good enough, something I struggled with for years.
As a result of feeling that way I created a life that I was unhappy with and I became someone who self-sabotaged, had little self-belief and would constantly settle for less. Furthermore, I struggled to stand up for myself.
Once I stopped passively accepting those parts of me as just the way things are, I realised that things could be different, things could be better. I also realised that I was capable of changing my own life.
At the time I didn’t feel capable and it was hard to imagine what things would be like if they were different but I started to believe it was possible.
My personal development and growth was an active change that I worked for and continue to work on.
This sort of thing is really at the crux of the message I want to share on this site. What I want for you to take away from this is you that don’t have to accept the way things are.
Most of us have at some point looked back on our life and perhaps not wished but thought about what would have happened if we took a different path.
If you applied for that job in another city.
If you moved out of your family home sooner or maybe done it later.
If you started that project when you first had the idea instead of sitting on it for months.
If you didn’t settle for what the people around you told you to do for a career.
If you hadn’t been willing to accept so little from the people around you.
When you’re not happy with where you’re at, looking back on the choices you’ve made will rarely make you happier. But you do it because you feel like it’s too late to start over.
It might not be true but that’s how it often feels.
When you’ve set yourself up on a particular path, starting over and changing the course of your life feels too risky. It feels like all that came before was time wasted.
But if you want to give yourself the opportunity to be happier and more fulfilled, then perhaps starting over might be one of the best things you can do for yourself.
Most people have some kind of plan. Even if it’s just a loose idea of how they would like things to be.
You carry it around with you wherever you go, it influences the choices you make.
You say yes to doing that thing that will help you progress and hopefully make things easier in the long run. You say no to things that are fun, exciting and interesting because you consider them a distraction.
But then sometimes something or someone comes along and disrupts the plans you made.
It could be someone that makes you realise that you’re settling, a listing for an amazing kind of job that you didn’t even know existed or meeting someone that went down a non-traditional route and has managed to make a great life for themselves.
Your eyes become open to the possibilities of life. You realise that the plan you made was created to give you a safe and stable life rather than being something you were truly passionate about.
Wake up, wake up! The world is changing.
Over the past 10 years or so I’ve noticed a big change in the way that people work. Self-employment is on the rise along with jobs in the gig economy.
Perhaps as a society we believe in ourselves more or we’ve opened up to the idea that we don’t have to commit to a single career.
Maybe work can just be something you do to fund the life you want rather than being where you gain your sense of self and something you want to grow and develop in.
You might have a career or means of income in mind that you have yet to actualise, so on your journey to bringing that to life you do temporary, flexible or short-term jobs like hospitality and Uber driving.
You could be that person in your late 20s or early 30s and to some what you’re doing may seem risky or not the sensible choice. But it’s actually pretty amazing to be able to trust your vision of what you want in life enough that you’re not willing to settle because so many of us settle.
The world is changing and you have to find a way to evolve and adapt.
…endless forms most beautiful and wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.
If you missed out on anything in your younger years you might hold the belief that it’s too late to do the things you wished you’d done.
But what if you do them now, what if you make a conscious effort to make up for lost time?
Granted with age comes responsibility, so taking out a few months to go backpacking around Asia might not be feasible, if you now have a full time job and a mortgage to pay but maybe you could do it for a week or two instead.
Sometimes it seems as though once we reach a particular age we have to ‘settle down’ and certain things are no longer available to us. But that’s just you restricting yourself. Just because you didn’t get to have as much fun growing up as you’d have liked doesn’t mean it’s too late.
Often in life there are things we go through in order to reap the rewards later on.
To study for a degree because you’ve been convinced that having one will make things easier in the future.
To stay in a relationship that isn’t great but you hope that it’ll all be for the best once you’re married with kids.
We rationalise it as short term pain for long term gain but sometimes it’s a lack faith.
Maybe you don’t believe there’s better out there so you settle for what you can get.
You say ‘I’m willing to brave the storm’ in the hopes that the calm will follow (and that the storm won’t totally rip you to shreds).
And that’s cool because it’s an option that you can take if you want but maybe there’s more out there for you.
Maybe you could also choose the calm without the storm because you don’t have to settle and you don’t have to go through ‘hard times’ in order for ‘good things’ to happen.
I think that in searching for stability you don’t give yourself enough room to explore and take risks. You align yourself in things that feel safe and reliable then convince yourself that it’s what you truly desire.
The pursuit of stability is often about fear and control. As human beings one of our core needs is survival which is linked to staying safe.
But in pursing something that doesn’t have outcome certainty it brings up risk of jeopardising safety and therefore survival.
Perhaps you wanted to make art for a living, but you chose to be a HR assistant instead. The idea of making and selling your work for a living has risk because it might not work. What if you don’t make enough money, you can’t pay your bills, you have to move back with your parents or move with friends, you get evicted, you have to sell all your possessions blah, blah blah
The inner monologue is amazing at getting carried away. You can go from one small inconvenience to thinking your entire life is over. And I think that there is a string need for an awareness for that so that we don’t end up listening to that voice.
You don’t want to end up wishing you’d taken a chance in your twenties, thirties or forties because you decided to live your life in search of stability.
But you don’t have to go in the opposite direction either. Go for what brings you joy, what you care about or what interests you.
Some people choose to settle because they want a life of comfort, stability and familiarity. Or maybe it’s that they’ve figured out what they want from life or what they want to pursue.
Some people choose to explore because they have trust in the part of them that is curious to experience more in life and enjoy they the constant newness that comes with the explorers way of life.
Sometimes settlers become explorers when they realise how little they have experienced or when they gain this hunger for more.
Sometimes explorers become settlers when they grow tired of going from place to place or thing to thing and they feel fulfilled by what they have experienced.
Fear might hold you back from branching out and trying something new. But, as good as life might seem, you may find that it is just the sense of comfort that you crave not the life you’re currently living.
Or perhaps you choose the life of a wanderer because you crave the feeling of freedom. But you might just be running from something and it’s easy to make excuses when live your life in a way so that you’re constantly unsettled.
I think for me a mix of the 2 is necessary because you can gain so much from both ways of living.