set realistic expectations

set realistic expectations

“Reality always wins.”

― Elizabeth Grace Saunders, The 3 Secrets to Effective Time Investment

Many of us have incorrect perceptions about how much we can accomplish in a single day. We keep cramming things into our schedules and falling victim to the “superhero syndrome.” But no matter how invincible or powerful we think we are, we forget that time is a finite resource. It’s just not possible to have ten-hour workdays and then also have enough time for friends, family, fitness routines, mindfulness, personal development, volunteering and a good night’s sleep. Something has to go. 

It’s crucial that we set realistic expectations about how much we can do. Many of us are time optimists, which means we routinely fail to estimate how long things actually take. Either we plan to fetch groceries, do multiple loads of laundry, prepare a meal for the family, while helping kids with their homework assignments after work, or take on too many commitments at the office thinking we’ll somehow fit them in our schedule. But here’s the problem with being over-optimistic about time. We find our plans to be too ambitious as we confront reality and as a result, we get stressed and overwhelmed when we actually perform those tasks.  

Often, time optimism is driven by our desire for perfection. We’re so driven to accomplish everything that we overburden ourselves. But ironically, our pursuit of perfection can make us less productive. In order to set realistic goals, it’s crucial that we let go of our perfectionism and accept ourselves as we are, not as the ideal person that we desire to be. 

When you become realistic and adjust your expectations accordingly, you allow yourself to be more relaxed and feel a sense of freedom. Developing awareness of how much time you truly have helps you focus on your priorities and hence make better choices in your daily life.