Managing Expectations

Yesterday I went out for a 5k run. Well, “run” is an exaggeration. It’s more like a combination of slow jog, fast walk and panting. I did make an effort, though, and thought I should be rewarded by my smartwatch. Instead of a reward, my stupid watch said, “You have 12,000 more steps to reach your goal.” What?? That is not ok. When I got home, I immediately decided that something had to be done. So, I changed the setting on my smartwatch.

Fibromyalgia is a condition that affects high-achievers. It strikes people who have high expectations, both of others and of themselves. I definitely used to be one of these. I wanted high grades in school, perfect attendance, to be respected by my parents, teachers and peers. I did not break rules or misbehave. I was obsessively punctual. As an adult, I expected myself to do it all – raise my kids, run my household, cook great food, be the perfect partner, have a thriving career and do all of this with a smile.

Then came Fibro. And then I could no longer do it all. I had no choice but to curb my expectations and become a bit less of an achiever. My body was telling me that my expectations were unrealistic, and something needed to change. So, I moved the marker. I learned to re-set my goals so that I could actually achieve them and still feel like a human being. I consider this to be one of the great gifts I received from my Fibro. I pulled back on the achievement throttle and started living life in the slower lane.

With this adjustment came better health, more peace of mind, more genuine happiness than I had ever experienced. It was not that I stopped achieving, it was that I stopped expecting so much of myself and started enjoying the journey. I still believe that people naturally strive for things they want. I’m not saying we should all just give up and stay in bed. I’m saying we need to change the consequences we suffer when we are not able to reach our unrealistic goals.

Now, if I reach my 10,000 steps, well, that’s all good. And if I don’t, well, tomorrow is another day.

“Expectations is the place you must always go to before you get to where you’re going. Of course, some people never go beyond Expectations, but my job is to hurry them along whether they like it or not.”

Norton Juster, “The Phantom Tollbooth”

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