Expectations is a word that changes as we change, and the secret to achieving your expectations, first and foremost, is to absorb this fact. You are not the person you were as a child or adolescent. obviously, but what’s less obvious is that you aren’t even the person you were yesterday.
The process of living brings uncountable experiences, each of which makes an impression. You don’t have to use the term Karma to realize that these impressions have shaped you from day to day.
But what does this have to do with expectations?
Unless you are centered in a reliable sense of self, your old conditioning, family setting, strong impressions, and social background–all of which come from the past–are guiding your expectations, not you. To expect something is to foresee it in the future, and psychologists doing research on happiness have concluded that people are very bad at predicting what will actually make them happy. Expectations don’t often live up to what the present moment brings.
Therefore, the best way to get what you really want out of life is to constantly adapt to the present, because there is wisdom in its uncertainty. When people expect to be made sublimely happy by getting married, having children, achieving a successful career, etc., they are substituting social norms for something deeper. Those external satisfactions can make you happy, of course, but psychological research once again indicates that they are highly unreliable–one of the most stressful experiences in life is caring for an infant child, for example, which comes as a surprise to many new mothers.
The most common ways that life expectations don’t turn out well include the following;
Setting your expectations too low.
Stubbornly sticking to hopes and dreams beyond the likelihood that they will be fulfilled.
Clinging to your family’s expectations of who you are or should be.
Being defeated by bad experiences, setbacks that stifle your growth.
Becoming entangled in unsatisfying work or relationships.