When I was engaged, I had a talk with my future husband about my birthday. I explained to him what birthdays were like in my house growing up. My parents never overindulged us with presents— there wasn’t a lot of money. However, I was always treated very special. I would wake up in the morning to my mother singing Happy Birthday and could request the cake of my choice. We always celebrated out at a restaurant where I could order whatever I wanted.
Anyway, I informed him before we were married that in order for me to be happy, I needed to be treated special on my birthday. I didn’t need extravagant presents, I just needed to be treated special. I explained to him in detail what that entailed.
I’m sure it’s no surprise to find out that in 32 years of marriage, I’ve never been disappointed on my birthday. He has never forgotten the day and has always made me feel special. Therefore, my expectations have always matched my actual reality.
When I think back to different phases of my life, I can’t recall too many times where my expectations weren’t in sync with my reality. My ability to verbalize what I needed in my personal and professional life led me to being happy with the outcome.
I have come to the realization that much of our disappointment and unhappiness in life surrounds this notion of having expectations. A person is capable of spending way too much time focusing on how their reality isn’t what they expected in their career and personal life. But just like my birthday story, each one of us has equal opportunity to seize control of our own chunk of happiness. The answer is simple: you can state clearly what you want and need in life.
Doesn’t this seem like such a simple solution to a problem? All you have to do is state what you expect and need in life. If this is so simple, why is this so difficult? Why do we play so many games, waiting to see if people are going to deliver what we need? Why are we so afraid to tell people what we want?
The first step to assessing your own ability in this area is to be totally honest. How often do you find yourself unhappy because you expected more? Do you state clearly in your career what you need or do you expect others to figure it out? Do you tell your friends and family what you need to be happy or do you find yourself complaining because someone has let you down?
And here’s the million-dollar question— do you find that this is a recurring theme in every facet of your life? Do you keep wanting and hoping for things, expecting others to just know, and then are you disappointed in others actions and your own consequences?
If this mirrors your life in any way, I want you to know that all is not lost. You can always change your behavior, which will certainly change your life. If you haven’t shared what you need and want consistently in your life, then you should hold YOU accountable for not getting what you want. Realize that you hold the key in your relationship with your boss, your employees, or your family members. Stop playing the blame game and accept responsibility for your own situation.