American author Tony Robbins is famous for saying, “Turn your expectations … into appreciation.” Setting high expectations for yourself can be helpful when it comes to being a motivated person who aims to reach their goals. Many people turn their lives around after setting a higher expectation for themselves from expecting themselves to exercise four times a week to expect their salary to go up via demonstrating hard work etc.
However, the change really happens when we turn our expectations into actions. This change can be both positive and negative depending on our attitude towards the expectations. For example, if you expect to be fluent in French after a month of learning, the likelihood is that you will end up frustrated with yourself and unmotivated to carry on. In this case, the expectations actually hold us back from the simplicity of discipline.
It is in these cases that high expectations can be detrimental to discipline. Expectations break down the pillars of habit and persistence. Every time we “fail” at a habit, we get discouraged. Because of expectations. What if we dropped any expectation that we would be perfect at it, and just return to doing the habit at the earliest opportunity?
It would be much easier said than done to simply ask you to forget about expectations, unfortunately the human mind doesn’t work this way. What will help, however, is to acknowledge the expectations so you can try to put them to bed. That gentle awareness can make all the difference; you acknowledge, you note, you forget. For example, if you miss a day of creativity, rather than let it ruin your week you go to bed saying “I didn’t do anything today, but tomorrow I will”. You’re still worthy, you’re still talented and you’re still ready for success even if you mess up. This is where discipline comes in.
Discipline in this case is generally applied to two things: keeping to a habit or schedule and then the actual act of doing the work itself. Discipline is disrupted because of difficulties and those difficulties are caused by expectations. You may find it difficult to concentrate on all your tasks for example but the discipline comes from shutting out the noise and taking the tasks step by step.
Here are a few tips on staying disciplined
- Carve out the time for your tasks
- Do the task
- Find the enjoyment in the task
- Do it the next day and the next day – this is where you form the habit
- If you miss a day, try, try, try again!