It’s Science | Low Expectations Creates Freedom & Happiness

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Exactly one year ago today, on January 14, 2019, I woke up to the due date of my son … my second baby … stiiiiiill pregnant.

Many people celebrate the arrival of their due dates, but not me. I felt so frustrated.

See, my daughter was 4 days early, so I got to hold that sweet squish on her due date. I was expecting the same for my son.

Even though it was only a due date, by then I was totally convinced he wouldn’t come on his own, and I was mad about it.

Was it a self-fulfilling prophecy, or spot-on intuition?

One will never know, but we went in for an induction NINE days later on January 23, 2019.

My expectations were ooooooooh so high for this second sweetie of mine.

I was so focused on worrying about a fast and furious labor – wondering if I’d even make it to the hospital.

I was NOT thinking he’d take his sweet time and demand an eviction notice. History (of 1) told me that my labors were going to be drama-free. Aren’t 2nd babies the easy ones? Apparently, not in my case!

Noah’s 1st birthday is next week (he DID come on the day of my induction!) and we’re so excited to celebrate him, but today, I’m talking about expectations … and control. Two things I could have really done without during the “9 day wait” (and in SO many other areas of my life, as well).

create freedom and happiness by lowering expectations

How to lower expectations & release control

It’d be impossible to teach you how to lower expectations & release control in one post, but I can pass along some strategies so you can start tackling that 1% improvement every single day (don’t know about the 1%? Grab “Atomic Habits” by James Clear stat. It’s THE book of 2020.).

If you’re anything like me, you lean on your Type A nature and try to control everything when you feel like your expectations aren’t being met. Sound familiar?

Lemme guess … the bar is set so high sometimes, or set on things you simply can’t control, that you enter the spiral like Dorothy in a tornado and can’t find your way out. Leaving a path of destruction in your wake.

I know, because I’m right there with ya.

But I know I need to release control. Minimize expectations. Let it gooooooo. Let it gooooooooooooooo!

Pacific Northwest outdoor camping baby nursery with play campfire and  UPPAbaby carseat waiting for newborn

Positive affirmations help lower expectations without feeling deprived

Whenever I’m doing something that feels uncomfortable or uncertain, I write a few affirmations to myself. Lowering expectations is not exempt from this practice.

Depending on my overall mood, sometimes the affirmations help, and other times they’re just forgotten.

Consistency is important, so try this method out on a scenario you’re struggling to lower expectations on. Start encouraging yourself, one positive affirmation at a time.

Scenario #1 – Teething Baby & Sleep

Expectation: I expect a full night’s sleep since I got one last night (but baby is still teething).

Issue: A teething baby is hardly consistent at night. Assume baby will wake every night. Go to bed early.

Affirmation: I’ll go to bed early and comfort my baby if he wakes up again tonight. My baby needs me. If I wake up tired, I’ll reschedule anything unnecessary and everything will be OK.

Benefit: If baby sleeps through the night, you’ve gone to bed early and have extra zzzz’s to enjoy! If baby wakes, you’ve managed your emotions and can go forward confident in your ability to limit frustration in the middle of the night (the worst!).

Scenario #2 – New Employee Onboarding

Expectation: I expect my new employee to be a quick learner and ready to work.

Issue: First impressions matter for both the employee and you. Be thoughtful and take time to onboard for long term investment.

Affirmation: I’ll prepare to train our new employee thoughtfully and with grace, and leave extra time for questions.

Benefit: If the new employee is a rockstar, he/she will pick up what you’re laying down quickly. You’ll both have extra time and brain power to spare. If they need a little extra time to train or learn a tool, you’ll have it for them with patience and understanding. Either way, you’ll be a kind and thoughtful manager to the new employee, and everyone wins.

Scenario #3 – Setting Goals for the New Year

Expectation: My goals are set, they’re totally do-able, and I’ll crush them!

Issue: Life happens. Routines shift and goals need to flex and mold into something new at times. A goal is not a failure if it needs to be adjusted.

Affirmation: I’ll do the best I can every single day towards honoring the goals I’ve set for myself. I’ll remain flexible and check in weekly to ensure my goal continues to fit in with my life circumstances. If something isn’t working, I’ll reset my path and not look back.

Benefit: Goals meant for real life circumstances develop over time and not in a vacuum. Success over goals that actually matter to you is a given when you’re constantly assessing their place in your life. Grace is given to your own self and as a result, confidence increases. (Need help with your goals? Check out this goal setting post where I explain why I use PowerSheets.)

In case I ever forget that low expectations = freedom

For whatever reason, my expectations were so very low for nursing the 2nd time around. I was able to nurse Dagny for 21 whole months. But I didn’t expect that much for Noah. Within the first 5 days of Noah’s birth, he had the perfect latch, quickly gained back his birth weight (and then some), and slept so well after each session.

That positive experience never stopped and I haven’t taken any of it for granted.

The best part?

My goal to nurse both babies for a whole year is JUST about reached.

Exactly zero disappointments because I had zero expectations.

I never cried over spilled milk. I never worried about a dip in supply, or an overabundance of supply. Both kids grew against their growth curve beautifully and things just went so well. I was as “type B” low control as it comes on the subject of nursing and we all benefited! (Though, I did stick to a very specific schedule in both instances, but that’s a story for another time.)

Hmmmm … maybe I should work on letting go of all that tight rope of control more often.

What do you think? Make sure to save this post to Pinterest so you can come back and reference when you need a quick refresher. xo

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