NOVEMBER 1, 2020

If you hurt other people because they have an expectation of you, that’s their problem. If they have an agreement from you, that’s yours.

-Naval Ravikant

   Do you ever feel burdened or pressurized when you have a lot of things to do? I admit that I do feel pressurized, and a lot of people also feel the same way. Dealing with pressure is not something that is inherently present in every human and that is why pressure can become difficult to deal with. However, when I realized that the pressure of doing a lot of things affected me negatively, I decided to find out the cause and the solution to this, and in this blog, I present it to you…

   There are many different pressures that we need to face, but one of the most unproductive—and the most unnecessary—pressure we create on ourselves is the pressure of fulfilling other people’s expectations. Every now and then we come across a situation where we need to do something important for ourselves, but there is an expectation to fulfill. Both of them require equal amounts of time and energy and when it is time to decide on which task to do, we get so confused that we spend most of the time in the dilemma of deciding what to do rather than doing something.

   This is a major problem with many people, and if you are one of those, stick around! Here, we will be discussing how to deal with people’s expectations and get rid of the pressure to find out time for ourselves and become more productive. Now, let’s dive deep into this and understand the various factors surrounding expectations, and answering the question—do we need to fulfil them all?

   One of the first things that we need to understand is: how do expectations work and why are they present in the first place? These answers will help us understand why they create pressure on us and will guide us towards the solution. First the answer to the question: why do expectations come up? So, expectations come up because people feel that you have something that you can do to help them in any way. The help can be given to solve a problem or make something better or easier. Now, if you know that you can do something like this for someone, you will definitely try to go and help. But how expectations work is different, and that is why there is a problem…

   When someone expects something from you, you don’t know whether or not you have the ability to help them in that particular situation and in that specific time or not. They also don’t know that you will be able to help or not, but they ‘assume’ that you can help them, and this is a major problem. You are not sure and neither are they, everything is based on assumptions, and often, misconceptions.

   The biggest problem with assumptions is that there is no proof that they will be true or not. This is why when a person expects something of you and you let them down by saying no, they feel disappointed. Due to that, you feel bad and guilty for letting someone down and seeing the disappointment in the other person creates emotional suffering inside of you, and this is what confuses you about whether or not to fulfil an expectation.

   Now that we have understood how expectations work and how they come up, it is time for us to find out and understand how we can deal with expectations. To quickly take action and decide whether or not to fulfil expectations, understand these pointers below…

  1. Weigh a situation and see if you can or cannot fulfil the expectation. The first thing that you need to do is understand the expectation that is asked of you and see if you can fulfil it or not. Let’s say that you have to submit a huge report to your boss in two days and your friends tell you to come for a trip the next day. Now, you know that you have a lot of work to finish and you may also feel that letting your friends down is bad, but you need to decide on what is important and reject the other thing. In this case, the expectation is not important but the report is. There could be multiple and almost unlimited contexts in which such a situation could come up, and instead of just rambling about the pressure presented by the expectation, you should simply analyze the situation and find out whether or not you will be able to fulfil that expectation. Let me give you my example. Recently, I got a lot of school work and I had to even spare some of my personal time to do and finish it. Then, one of my teachers messaged me to make a poster for a competition. This was an expectation out of me, and seeing the amount of work on my hands and the mediocre level of my artistic skills, I politely replied no, and said that I have a lot of work. I did not worry and constantly over-think about what the teacher may think of me and its further implications. I did what was logical and I rejected this task without regret or a sense of letting someone else down.
  2. Every expectation is not your obligation. This brings us to the second point and understanding this very point is the biggest stepping stone in your way out of this whirlpool of other people’s expectations. You need to know that every expectation is not your obligation. So, what’s the difference? An expectation is when someone is assuming that you will do something but you have not agreed to it before. An obligation is when someone knows that you will do a task because you have agreed to do it. It can be making a report for a client or giving a salary to your employees on time. Whatever it is, you must not falter at fulfilling your obligations. But you do not need to think that you need to fulfil whatever expectation people have of you. This is because you have not obliged to do that thing for that person, and they may even feel disappointed. However, you don’t need to feel guilty because they assumed you would be able to help them, but they did not ask you first and seek your consent. If they asked you and you said that you will do it, then you are obliged to do it, then it is your problem, and you must solve it.
  3. Say “No” when you can’t fulfil an expectation. Now, when you know that you can’t fulfil an expectation, simply say a direct ‘no’ to the other person. You do not need to over-think or worry about how the other person may feel. Remember, you don’t need to feel guilty about letting the other person down because their expectations of you are not your obligations.
  4. If it can be done quickly, do it. If there is something you think you can do even in your busy schedule, and it happens to take very little time, then do it then and there. Don’t postpone it and make the other person drag along as well. Maybe it is helping out your classmate with a presentation or helping a colleague set up his new laptop. Whatever it is, if it can be done in a very little amount of time, maybe let’s say fifteen to twenty minutes, and if it does not disturb your schedule, then finish it right away.

     Remember, every expectation is not your obligation! Whenever you can’t do something, simply say no, and move on without getting confused. This will help you cut out the clutter of things that pressurize you and you will be able to take time out for yourself to do the things that matter.

   Thank you so much for reading! I hope that this blog was able to add value to your life! If you think that someone may benefit from this blog, don’t hesitate to share it with them. If you have any specific questions or problems pertaining to this topic, you can drop them in the comment box or reach out to me personally via email, I will be glad to help! Also, I would love to hear your feedback in the comment box and I will surely reply to every email and comment!

Well wishes,