To successfully live the life we choose, we will have to prioritize our actions, and not meet the expectations of some people we love and respect. This will feel like failure. Many of us try desperately to avoid these kinds of failures. It is important to understand that it is impossible to meet all the expectations of everyone in our lives. We can try and struggle; but eventually we become overwhelmed, and it all comes crashing down. We have to choose to take actions that lead to our success and happiness, rather than choosing actions that prevent us from failing.
When we are presented with expectations that don’t fit into our action plan, we can politely reset those expectations. We can let people know that what they expect is important, but it is not something we can commit to because it doesn’t fit into our action plan for success. This is extremely difficult and one of the biggest challenges you will face. But it is critical to your ability to be successful and happy on a daily basis.
Many of the expectations sneak up on us. If your long-term goal is to be healthy, but your boss needs you to start a new project, do you skip your workout to get it done? The answer may be yes once, but how many other times will you say yes? Can you skip your workout for a week, for a month, for six months? We tend to believe that this is a one-time thing, and it won’t happen again. But those expectations don’t get smaller and fewer. They grow.
Even worse, by skipping your workout, you reduce your energy levels and your productivity, which affects your ability to complete the project. You can instead set expectations with your boss that exercise is an important part of your success and you will complete the project first thing the next morning when you will have more energy and can be more focused. You could also communicate that you will skip your workout this time, but you would prefer to fit workouts in as well as work projects. Ninety percent of the time, your boss will understand. They will have similar goals, or at least respect your sticking to your goals. Sometimes, however, they won’t. You will have to decide whether it is worth sacrificing your long-term health for a boss that is not going to support your long-term success. Are you going to sacrifice success because you are avoiding failure? Hard work and long hours are part of career success. But they will be more productive and you will be more successful if you fit them into a well-rounded action plan that supports your happiness and success. If you feel like you are making the choices, you will be happier and more successful than if you are forced by expectations to do things that don’t fit into your action plan.
Marriage and family are other examples. If your long term goal is a strong relationship with your kids or romantic partner, should you take on those extra projects or volunteer opportunities? Letting them pass you by feels like failure. Do they fit into your goals and action plan? Can you commit to them and still meet your goals related to your relationships? Can you still do what you need to do every day to be successful in your relationships? Success and happiness require that on a daily basis we choose actions consistent with our goals and action plans, and that we say no to opportunities and expectations that will interfere with our long-term success. We have to let go of the belief that everything is important and that we can always fit one more thing into our lives. These are difficult and emotionally charged decisions. They will require that we continuously find anchors in our Higher Purpose, definition of success, goals, and action plans. We have to believe that prioritizing our actions daily will lead to success and happiness. It is critical that we stop using our energy to avoid failure and start directing it toward daily success.
Don’t run away from failure; run toward success. Prioritize the actions in your life so they represent success on a daily basis. Prioritize and stick to an action plan that leads you toward your milestones for success.