Everyone experiences the pressure of others’ expectations at some point during their lifetime. They often come from friends, parents, coaches, teachers, and partners. Having expectations is healthy, but not if they become the sole focus of your efforts. If you find yourself missing out on things you want to do, because you’re trying to appease others’ expectations, they may be doing more harm than good. When others’ expectations are becoming a source of unnecessary stress or anxiety, those expectations should also be considered harmful. While trying to meet everyone’s expectations can be a great motivator, it can also ruin your ability to perform and succeed. A healthier approach is to create expectations by yourself and for yourself. In order to develop that outline, you must shed what others want from you and start thinking about your goals and your purpose.

Know What You Want

The important people in your life likely have specific aspirations for you. It’s normal to want to impress them, show them what you’re capable of, and achieve what they expect of you. But, at the end of the day, when you’ve devoted all your energy to the things that they want, what do you have left for yourself? You probably feel depleted and frustrated. Although it might not be easy at first, shifting your focus to the things you want will lead to becoming more fulfilled at the end of a hard day’s work. However, we understand that building your own expectations and getting rid of others’ is tough. So, we’ve gathered some tips that will help you to do just that.

Set boundaries.

If you’re the type of people-pleaser who frequently loses time by helping others, start by clearly defining your boundaries. If you struggle with saying “no” up front, consider saying “maybe,” or “Let me find out if I have enough time.” When you find out that you’re fully booked or need to make time for yourself, get back to them and say, “Sorry, I’m unable to help you out this time.” Once you realize that it isn’t the end of their world if you can’t assist them, you’ll learn that immediately saying “no” will often yield the same results. You can still provide help to the person by finding someone to fill your shoes or offering an alternative. Just because you aren’t available, doesn’t mean you can’t be helpful.

Remember: not everyone can be pleased.

While doing things for your own development and fulfillment, remind yourself that you can’t please everyone. (And the easiest way to burn out is to constantly try to please everyone). Even if you do everything someone asks of you, it’s not guaranteed that they’ll be satisfied. You’re better off finding peace in knowing that you can be content with yourself by doing what you need to do. If you’re lucky, some of those people may see your results and happiness and applaud you or even ask you to share your secrets for success.

Ask for help.

Have your close family members or friends hold you accountable and ensure that you’re not overworking yourself. Ask them to stop you if they think you’re reaching your limits. They’ll know if you seem exhausted or irritable. This way you have someone who can reassure you that it’s okay to say “no” and make more time for yourself.

Listen to feedback but don’t magnify it.

It’s perfectly fine to ask for feedback and criticism from others, but don’t make this your main mission. Take the feedback with a grain of salt and take a moment to evaluate its validity. Think, “Is this statement true? Do I see this criticism in myself? Is this statement being overemphasized?” If you’re honest with yourself and reflect on your abilities regularly, you’ll know what feedback/criticism is true. 

These aren’t the only ways to get rid of others’ expectations, here are some more.

Find Your People

Knowing what you want is just as important as knowing who you want to do it with you. Since we are social creatures, most of us don’t like to do everything alone. Activities are more fun when you have someone there to share the memories. Sadly, some of those memories can be tainted by people in your life who don’t want what’s best for you. These people should slowly be plucked out of your life, so as not to drain your energy and enthusiasm. Click here for some great guidelines for healthy ways to remove toxic people from your life or, at the very least, distance yourself from them.

Pull the weeds and plant new seeds. When you remove unwanted weeds from your garden, it can still end up looking bare. So, plant your desired seeds in the place of those weeds. When you remove people who are doing more harm than good, or have draining personalities, replace them with people who share your interests and vision. Doing this will create a garden that allows you all to blossom and flourish.  

Once you have a group of people around you who all have the same dreams and goals, you can help each other achieve them. And, when they ask for help and you tell them “no,” they won’t question your motives. With a team like that, nothing will stand between you and your goals. 

After you’ve set your boundaries, consider looking for someone to teach you how to continue maintaining them. Finding the right mentor for you is important for keeping yourself on track.