I have to get it done immediately.
f I don’t do it, it won’t get done and it certainly won’t get done right.
If I don’t jump on every opportunity that comes my way I will be left behind professionally.
I have to be responsive to every request.
Any of these sound familiar? A lot of pressure – this mindset. In some cases, the statement might be true. You may, as a simple example, be working under a really tight deadline on a matter in your area of expertise and responsibility.
But, where can you jettison some of this pressure and give yourself grace? One area of exploration as you enter this new year – unconscious expectations that mindlessly add burdens in your life. This exploration involves what may be most under your control. And, it can lead to opportunities to reclaim time and energy that can be better used for you and your family or help you be more productive at work. Here are some ideas to get you started on this mindful exploration:
Define Your Priorities and Intentions
You have obligations to your family, your job, yourself, and perhaps social or faith communities. There is no limit to how much you could give in each of these areas. If you don’t intentionally decide how to focus your time and attention, you may do so aimlessly and you can bet others will decide for you. This can serve as a powerful guide when you need to make choices throughout the day.
Listen to Your Body
Pay attention to your body’s physical and emotional signals. Sudden onset of fatigue, a change in the pace of your breath, an unsettled stomach, anger, resentment, tension, a nagging feeling. These are all examples of signals to pause. Some slow, intentional breathing for a minute or two can be really helpful here. As you learn to mindfully attend to your body’s signals you may notice patterns in your actions in certain situations. In this space, you can assess if you are making decisions consciously or are acting on unconscious expectations.
Consider What Self-Imposed Expectations You Can Shift to Realign With Your Intentions
Consider if there are expectations you place on yourself that add to the pressure on you. You may take pride, for example, in being super responsive to your client or others. Meeting this self-imposed standard though takes away from time with your family or what you need for your own physical or emotional health and that trouble you. In this example, what boundaries can you set to balance your desire for strong client service and sufficient quality time for other life priorities? What does that look like? In what ways might different unconscious expectations show up in your life?
You may be surprised by the time you can reclaim when you make targeted adjustments to daily circumstances that are under your control. If several instances occur to you just start with one – make a small adjustment – and build from there. Small, accumulated changes over time can have tremendous and long lasting results.