Managing Healthy Expectations


Have you ever been on a road trip with someone who printed all the directions, reservations, and whatnot and carried them in her handy-dandy binder? You know… the person who went onto Google Maps the night before and made sure there was no unexpected road construction on the route… the one who plotted out the most accessible gas stations and cleanest restrooms every 100 miles on a 1,000 mile stretch? Let’s not forget about the budgetary calculations, which included cost of gas, lodging, and meals. PB&Js for everyone!

That mildly-neurotic friend who organized her road trip bible with color-coded tabs and highlighters… that was me.

That was me in fourth grade.

Reminiscing about our family road trip from Wisconsin to South Dakota brings back awesome memories, but also makes me cringe a little. I was always proud of being called organized, just like my mom. I wore that adjective like a badge of honor. Now, all I feel is the heavy weight of shame.

I hear Brené Brown’s voice in my head, speaking the word “shame” over and over.

As a quintessential Enneagram Type 3, I am wildly concerned about how others view me and if I even remotely feel I have “failed,” I fall down the spiraling trap of shame.


So why do I feel shame about my organizational tendencies?

… because they’ve disappeared, for the most part.

After my mom died (and a whole series of other unfortunate events), I fell apart in a big way. I lost my sense of belonging without my parents anchoring me to my roots. I lost a lot of relationships when my problems were too much for my friends to bear (hi there, karma). I lost my boundless energy to keep my space clean, plan and cook healthy meals, and provide for my children physically. 

Despite losing so much, I never lost my ambitions or expectations of myself.

So where did that leave me? With high hopes, dreams, and expectations, with little to no ability to accomplish any of them. Enter, perceived failure… guilt… shame…

Knowing what I have gone through in my mid-twenties, not a single person has projected unreasonable expectations on me; I have done it all to myself. I was the one to decide I needed to be an A+ mother, an A+ wife, an A+ friend, an A+ community member, and more than anything, an A+ business woman.

I learned something important with all of my recent reflections:

Real life doesn’t revolve around report cards.
— Emilie Steinmann

Let me repeat that for the student in the front row…

Real life does not revolve around report cards.

In all the facets of life, I am learning to accept progress, not perfection.

I didn’t become the perfect mother I imagined myself to be at 7:56am on my first child’s birthday.

I didn’t become the perfect wife on August 15th, ten years ago.

I didn’t become the perfect businesswoman when I registered my first LLC six years ago.

We are ALL learning and we are ALL stumbling along the way.

The key to managing healthy expectations is to give yourself grace and allow for growth over time.

Be kind to yourself, as you are to others.



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