expectations and goals

Time is the coin of your life.

It is the only coin you have, and only you

can determine how it will be spent.

Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you.

Carl Sandburg

Life is full of ups and downs. It is often difficult for us to maintain what we’d consider a balanced life. We expect certain outcomes, and some of them will come to fruition. We set goals for ourselves, our children, our companies, and again, some of these things will work out. But expectations and goals, although they are often used interchangeably are not the same thing. And you can save yourself a lot of grief and heartache by knowing which things go in which categories.

Definitions (from www.dictionary.com)

If you follow this blog at all, you know that I’m going to start with definitions. We can best use and understand a thing, if we know what it is, and what it is not.


  • anticipation of something happening: a confident belief or strong hope that a particular event will happen
  • notion of something: a mental image of something expected, often compared to its reality
  • expected standard: a standard of conduct or performance expected by or of somebody
  • Same as expectancy (see 1)


  • target area: in a game such as soccer or hockey, the space or opening into which a ball or puck must go to score points, usually a pair of posts with a crossbar and often a net
  • aim: something that somebody wants to achieve
  • score: the score gained by getting the ball or puck into the goal
  • successful shot: a successful attempt at hitting, kicking, or throwing a ball or hitting a puck into a goal
  • race’s end: the end of a race

So we can see that expectations are usually about a hope or a standard, while goals are about hitting a target or mark. We talk a lot about setting and achieving goals, but setting and aligning your expectations are an important piece of the puzzle in making your balanced life plan.

Setting expectations

Expectations come into play in several different ways.

1. YOUR expectations

What is it that you expect to get from a more balanced life? More free time? A closer relationship with your significant other? Time to pursue an advanced degree? Maybe, you want to learn to horseback riding.

Any or all of these things are fine goals, but your expectation to achieve balance must take into consideration that some of these goals will take more time away from your family, and time away from your current leisure activities..

So, the first thing you have to do is to get it straight in your own mind. What does “balance” mean to you? Every person trying to answer this question will do so in a slightly different way. Is it more time for yourself? Is more time for your family important?

Don’t promise yourself that you will get more work/life balance and then squander that balance away with poor planning.

What is it you expect to achieve? How will this balance change your life in an overall positive way? How will this new-found balance affect the people you care about?

Keep your expectations realistic. There is nothing more frustrating or disheartening than spending time sorting out a new plan only to find that it will not work. Are you expectations realistic and in line with your planned timeframe and the actions that you want to take, and are able to take?

2. Other people’s expectations

Once you have your own expectations under control, you will need to look around you to your employer and to your family and friends to be sure that you understand and can meet their expectations. It is all well and good that you expect to regain some balance in your life but if your employer still thinks you should work be generously putting in eighty hours a week, you are not very likely to get very far with the execution of your plan.

Write them down. Put it on paper, then go and talk to the people most important to you and those whose support of your is crucial to getting it done. You need to know what THEY expect. Then compare notes and figure out if everything is aligned, and if it is not how to make it so. If it isn’t, you will have to adjust your plan… or your life. Once you get the plan right, you can move forward more quickly and with much greater success.

Translating your expectations into goals

Now, let’s chat a bit about goals. Like any other important life decision, you have to have goals or you are shooting in the dark at an unknown target, and will have no idea when you have hit it. To set Goals for your work/life balance, you have to take your expectations and translate them into the “WHAT” and the “WHEN” What to you want to achieve, and by when? It is important that you are as specific as possible.

For example, if you are going to look for a new, less demanding, but more mentally stimulating job, your goals might include figuring out the industry you want to work in, the specific type of job you want to get and how much money you want to make, as well as when you’d like to get the job by. Let’s work through this example. Here’s how you get :

“My goal is to get a job with one of the Top Ten banks in the U.S., as a Bank Manager, by May of 2015″

“Reduce the number of hours I work by 10 hours per week in time for my son’s Little League Season”

“Visit my parents every other Sunday for at least three hours”

“Train 2-3 people on my staff to take over the bookkeeping process by January of next year”

“Schedule and keep a weekly date night with my significant other for dinner and a movie”

Simple, right?

So, what are your top priorities? Write them down, share them below in the comments, and I shall see you tomorrow….

Photo Credit: sirwiseowl via Compfight cc

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