Managing Internal Expectations

Making sure you are kind to your time

In a world where hustle culture is glorified, and "more" is considered synonymous with "better," it's easy to find ourselves saturated, both mentally and emotionally. While the last post touched upon managing your mental bandwidth to avoid burnout, it's crucial to note that the source of this overload often isn't an external forceโ€”it's ourselves. Let's dive into how we can manage not just the expectations of those around us but also the demands we put on ourselves.

The Source of the Saturation: It's Often Within

Before you point fingers at your boss, your partner, or your friends for the overflowing plate of responsibilities you're dealing with, take a moment to consider who said 'yes' to those tasks in the first place. Chances are, your biggest critic and taskmaster is looking back at you in the mirror every morning.

The Self-Imposed Load

Your ambition, perfectionism, or fear of missing out may be the culprits that push you to take on more than your mental bandwidth can handle, leading you closer to burnout.

The External Load

Simultaneously, social norms and expectations often push us toward an unsustainable pace of life. Whether it's the boss who always seems to need one more thing or the social circle that equates busyness with importance, external pressures are thereโ€”but it's up to us to say yes or no.

Setting Boundaries: A Two-Way Street

Managing external expectations starts by setting boundaries, and that applies to the boundaries you set for yourself as well.

Internal Boundaries

  1. Self-Awareness: The first step is understanding what you can realistically handle. Just as you wouldn't overload a network beyond its capacity, don't overload your day with an unrealistic list of tasks.

  2. Quality Over Quantity: It's better to do fewer tasks well than many tasks poorly. Prioritize what truly matters.

  3. Self-Compassion: Understand that it's okay not to be 'on' all the time. Give yourself the permission to relax and recharge.

External Boundaries

  1. Transparent Communication: Be clear about what you can and cannot do. Honest communication helps set realistic expectations.

  2. The Power of No: Saying 'no' is not a sign of weakness; it's a sign of knowing your limits.

  3. Delegate: Pass tasks to others when possible, and don't be shy to ask for help when you need it.

Practical Tips for Setting Boundaries

  1. The Prioritization List: Make a list of all your tasks and commitments. Rank them based on urgency and importance. Anything that falls too low on both axes might be something you can say 'no' to.

  2. Time Blocking: Allocate specific blocks of time for specific tasks, including time for yourself. Stick to it as much as possible.

  3. Check-ins: Regularly check in with yourself and others to make sure expectations are aligned. This is your preventive maintenance to ensure you're not heading towards saturation.

  4. Create a Buffer: Always keep some 'free space' in your schedule. This acts like extra bandwidth that can be allocated in case of unexpected high-priority tasks.

The Liberation in Limitation

There's a paradoxical freedom in understanding your limitations. When you know your boundaries, both internal and external, you give yourself the room to operate at your best within those limits. Remember, setting boundaries isn't about limiting your potential; it's about making sustainable choices that enable you to achieve your potential over the long term, without crashing.

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