Start, Stop & Change: unrealistic expectations

This one is about unrealistic expectations. But not the ones others have for you. No, these are the worst kind: The ones you place on yourself.

The Planner in me is overly optimistic about how much can get done in an hour or a day. The Doer in me is really pissed off a lot of times with the Planner because the marching orders are just not doable.

Which means there’s this inner tension between the Planner and the Doer. And while that internal struggle is going on, I’m wasting energy. Can you relate?

  • Oh, this will only take an hour. (Reality check: It took 2 1/2 hours. At this rate you need 20 hours to finish what you thought could be done in an 8-hour workday.)
  • I can definitely get this done in a couple days. (Reality check: In a couple days if there are suddenly 48 hours in each one.)

Setting unrealistic expectations creates a domino effect, causing the time allotted for one task to bump into what you’d allocated for another. It sets you up for frustration and disappointment. It also creates the subtext that you’re not as competent or smart or efficient as you thought you were. Which doesn’t feel good.

How many times have you set out to do something—a task on your To Do list or a project at work—and grossly underestimated how long it would take?

And then what happens?

You beat yourself up when the project isn’t done in the timeframe you anticipated. You tell yourself you need to work smarter or harder.

Beating yourself up is never motivating. And what if working smarter or harder isn’t the answer?

Instead, what if setting more realistic expectations about how long something takes is the key?

Here’s your mini mission

Look over your To Do list or think about a project on your radar, and rethink how long it will take. Make it a practice to get your planning self and your doing self on the same page when it comes to expectations about how long something will take.