Unmet Expectations – How to move on

There will come a time in life when you’re both excited and hopeful for a new opportunity, or you create a vision in your mind of how a situation will go – and then it flops. You’re left holding the bag of “I can’t believe this happened” and “What do I do now”s. For someone that describes themselves as a high achiever, high functioning, or has high expectations either for themselves or others, this mixed bag of feelings is sure to leave you feeling depleted, unaccomplished and unmotivated to move forward.

Yet unfortunately, or fortunately depending on your perspective, one of the tested and true traits of a high achiever, is that despite these crippling feelings, they’ll still want to find a way to tackle the next project or goal. Often times, the challenge of this can stem from the continuation of these heavy feelings, with their natural inclination to push forward and achieve more. So you may be left feeling stuck between a rock and a hard place, as the saying goes.

Now you may be thinking, great, you’ve just described my work life perfectly, but where do I go from here? That my fellow human; is a tough nut to crack.

First off, you need to stop and take stock of the situation, what is it about this project or opportunity, drenched in your overzealous expectations, that you’re hooked to? What is the one element or specific detail that you are so attached to? What need are you trying to satisfy by chasing this opportunity? What is lacking in your current experience that this opportunity will fulfill?

Are you looking for more recognition? Are you trying to connect more with colleagues? Will this project be the one and only opportunity ever to prove to your boss that you’re worthy of that leadership position?

Take some time to reflect on what this expectation is trying to satisfy. One way to do this is to continually ask yourself ‘why?’.

Once you figure out what void is not being filled, take a moment to sit with this feeling, accept the current circumstance, and take stock of what is within your control.

From what is within your control, try and create three scenarios, where your need can be met in some form or another, to help you move on.

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Need an example?

Laura, a 27 year old software engineer, is feeling underwhelmed and not challenged at work. She was excited about the possibility of a new project that fell through, and is now feeling demoralized about her value at work more than ever.

In this scenario, Laura has three options:

  1. Talk to her boss about how she’s feeling and collaboratively come up with new ways to improve her work satisfaction.
  2. Keep things status quo, and find different things to occupy herself at work, that may or may not be work related.
  3. Look for a new job.

Photo by Lisa Walton on Unsplash

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