Self-expectation is a strong internal belief that something should happen or be the case. It is the targets we set for ourselves, the ideal self we want ourselves to be. I was expecting to be done writing and publishing this exact blog you are reading by yesterday (14th) to stick to my blog post a day challenge. The expectation is setting goals that need to be completed - like publishing this blog, or doing the HW, or completing some pending work. Yesterday when I couldn’t achieve the target, I was definitely deeply saddened. There could be two cases that could come up:

Achievement results in loss of Joy

I could achieve my goal and stay motivated. I will have an incentive to always try and do better, slowly increasing the bar of the goals to achieve. We always aim to be the perfect version of ourselves. Sometimes when we set a higher, probably unachievable expectation and do not fulfill it, the contentment we get from achieving it is drastically reduced. If you consistently achieve that “self” expectation, the satisfaction level is reduced. Let us take an example: You won a swimming championship, and are super happy with it. Slowly you start increasing your expectation to compete at an even larger stage and achieve bigger goals. Even if you consistently achieve those, the happiness will reduce for the same quality of feats.

[self]expectation ∝ 1/(joy)

We often expect a lot from ourselves, from studying for 10 hours a day to completing, sometimes which becomes toxic, not only for you but people in your surroundings. Such unreasonable expectations are good to have, but if you are motivated to do it - it is important to not burn out or disturb others in achieving your goals.

Never be stagnant

When you do not achieve what you had expected. This is prevalently seen when a company is not able to reach its targets of revenue, or students not scoring 95% in the Board exam. This results in either as a motivation to do even better and we try to achieve what we aimed for or it could result in being dejected and then staying stagnant with no hope to improve.

Being stagnant is the worst result when you over achieve.

There are always two causes of not being able to reach your goals, it could be internal factors or external factors. Internal factors include the time you put into it, the dedication, the hard work, etc. whereas external factors include things like a war, a pandemic, or some other emergency or unavailability of an individual when you had to meet them. As for me, this blog post partially delayed due to my ignorance and hopes of being done with it and partially due to time allocation and other tasks.

Image of a road through dense jungle with a ray of light shining

Being Obsessed

It starts with yourself and extends to something bigger than you, something materialistic. Let’s say you have an obsession to get into IIT. It starts with you wanting good college, treatment, career, etc. The goal becomes your expectation and then you are obsessed with the fact that you want that thing. Obsession connects your own personal internal expectation to your outer expectation (what society expects from me, what I want society to do with me, what I wanted to do, etc.).

Big Picture

“To get affected is normal,

to remain affected is abnormal”

Keep your expectation that you want to achieve it, there is nothing wrong with being affected and improving yourself with happiness or even dejection. If you achieve more than the expectation then you remain in your bubble - a high ground. If you get stuck, you will not progress.

If you cannot achieve that achievement especially when it is for something that deeply affects your life, it’s better to still take it as a mistake and take it in as a motivation. As with me, I will make sure to focus and not move away from my target while also not being dejected and angry on any external factor, as in Life there could be many.

Take how you are affected by your expectation, like motivation. Even better be driven to do it, rather than even relying on expectations and their result.

Having expectations and setting targets is important for progress. But to truly grow, the result (over-achievement or failure) should be disregarded. Have the drive to keep going.


Massive thanks to Aryan and Aabhas for their contributions.