2-minute read and an activity

This is not a topic I planned to write about, but things changed as I followed the disturbing reports of parents buying their kids into top colleges.

I wondered if at birth, the parents’ said, “Don’t worry little one, mommy and daddy will buy you an Ivy League.” I doubt it.

Still, somewhere along the way, a bunch of parents made a dreadful decision, and did their kids a huge disservice. The kids never had the chance to set Personal Expectations for themselves, and then experience the challenge and joy of living up to them.

In January we talked about your ambition.

February was about how you define success.

March tackled how to uncover and address gaps in your skill-set.

They are all based around Goals-the stuff you want to accomplish in the short term.

But Personal Expectations are different. They’re standards for how you behave and make decisions throughout the course of your life and career.

In other words, Goals satisfy your ambition. Personal Expectations define your reputation.

Both exist beautifully side-by-side.

Both are required to succeed.


Personal Expectations in Practice

Throughout a career, Personal Expectations guide your thinking and actions.

When navigating conflict, they are a vital part of the decision-making calculus.

Your Personal Expectations also define the qualities of the people you want to be around.

With a set of expectations to guide you, you’ll make better decisions with a higher level of confidence.

And with confidence in your decisions and clarity about the people around you, you’ll move proactively towards the best opportunities.


Setting Your Personal Expectations, An Exercise

This can be tricky. Set them too high and fail, you might feel bad about yourself. But not establishing any Personal Expectations almost guarantees that you’ll underperform your potential or find yourself in the wrong job.

Here are some prompts for hitting your “sweet spot” and establishing a reasonable set of Personal Expectations.

  • What qualities do I like most about myself?
  • Whom do I admire most?
  • What qualities do I admire most about them?
  • When people talk about me, what are three things I want them to say?
  • How do I want to be remembered?


Testing Your Personal Expectations

Now, test your Expectations to see if they’re realistic.

  • Is this what I believe about myself, or what other’s consider important?
  • Do I incorporate these qualities into my life today?
  • Can I continue to live up to these Personal Expectations?
  • Does my Expectations invite personal growth?
  • Does living up to this standard stress me out? If so, maybe it’s too aggressive



Embracing Your Personal Expectations

Your Personal Expectations guide you towards the people and environments that support the best version of you. Knowing the qualities that comprise your ‘best self’ makes it easier to advocate for yourself with peers, friends, and employers.

At work, or if you’re looking for a job, the Expectations you’ve set for yourself will provide clarity for assessing a company’s environment, values, corporate culture, and management style.

Unlike the Ivy-bound college students, you’ll have a decision-making structure in place, insight into your personal motivations, and control over some of life’s outcomes.


If you want to explore a career-related topic, send me an email. We’ll cover it in 2019.