The Danger of Unrealistic Expectations
Click below to listen to this post.
In honor of my book, From Clutter to Clarity being offered at a massive discount right now (just $0.99!), this week I’m sharing an excerpt about one of the three core causes of clutter: unrealistic expectations. Because setting the bar too high will stop you from even getting started.
If you or someone you know would like to learn about the hidden lessons in your clutter, grab a copy of From Clutter to Clarity from your favorite electronic retailer before the deal ends on February 25th.
From Chapter 2: Core Clutter Cause #1 – Unrealistic Expectations
Unrealistic expectations are often the biggest hurdles in any clutter-clearing endeavor. They are also the ones that prevent you from finding out what’s really going on under the piles, people, or pounds.
Because you’re resisting the job so strongly, all you can think of is how far you are from the finish line, how much time and effort it’s going to take to complete it, and how much of a pain it will be to even start.
You might think you can (and should) get it all done in one fell swoop.
Maybe you believe that once you start, you can’t stop until it’s finished, or that there’s a logical way to do it and if you can’t do it that way, it can’t be done at all.
This all-or-nothing mindset is a default reaction of your fear. It’s that part of you that feels completely overwhelmed. It focuses only on the before and after and struggles to see the process.
However, it’s the process — the small steps in between — that holds the secret to your success.
Breaking down your tasks and projects into smaller pieces increases your chances of getting started, which is the key to finishing anything.
While Future You can easily get on board with how great it’ll feel to have everything done, Present You needs consistent wins to stay motivated. With each small step you complete, you become more invested in finishing the whole task.
Engaging in this is simple. Instead of waiting until you have a free day to clean out your kitchen, get started right away by going through your utensil drawer.
The next time you get dressed, look for one article of clothing you’re willing to get rid of.
When you’re watching television at night, sort through a box from the garage.
Take each big task one piece at a time.
When you’re realistic with your expectations, your resistance quiets down and can get on board with the idea of sorting and clearing.
By asking yourself to start with something small, you’re more likely to see that true success is in the action rather than the outcome. Our stress is always caused by what we’re not doing versus what we are.
Because the key to finishing anything is starting it, you want to make it easier to begin instead of focusing on the enormity of the job or how long it will take you to complete it.
And for that, small steps are your friend!
If you still find yourself avoiding the task even after breaking it into pieces, it’s time to dig deeper. There is something bigger you are scared of.
Even if you know you’d be much happier, relieved, or excited with the project done, there is something more appealing about leaving it undone. Open your journal and ask yourself this question: “How am I benefitting from putting things off?”
This question may sound ridiculous, but there must be a payout to procrastinating otherwise you wouldn’t be doing it.
You might come up with answers like:
- If I complete this, people will expect more of me.
- I’m scared of the emotions this could stir up.
- I’m not smart enough to figure this out.
- What if I mess up and disappoint people?
It can be hard to face these thoughts. It’s okay. Remember: the key is to start somewhere and to be kind to yourself as you do.
Play it out. Give it space to breathe. Humor it. That could be all it needs to get out of your way.
By keeping your expectations unrealistic you invite all types of clutter:
- Keep the project out of reach, and the physical clutter remains.
- Start beating yourself up for not taking action, and your mental clutter piles up.
- Continue to live in pursuit of “someday,” and your emotional clutter accumulates.
However, all of this can be addressed by breaking your action steps down.
Take it one small move at a time. As the saying goes, Rome wasn’t built in a day!
Leave a ReplyWant to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!