Raise/Lower the Bar


Write a new post in response to today’s one-word prompt.


First thought:  Dickens’ novel Great Expectations. But I’m not going to write about that.

Second thought:  In my office, I sometimes suggest to people that they might consider changing, even lowering, their expectations. Sometimes they just give me a blank look. Sometimes, they object strongly to the idea of accepting less than they had hoped, whether it’s in a relationship, career, health, or something else.  Shouldn’t they expect more, raising the bar rather than lowering it?


That depends. Someone who needs to lose 100  pounds is just asking for disappointment when they plan to do that in three months or less.  That’s too high an expectation. Changing that expectation to maybe one pound a week is much more reasonable and achievable.

In relationships, it is easy to sabotage any possibility of a good outcome if we expect way more of the other person than we do of ourselves. The thing is, not everyone is going to love you. Some people, even  family or in-laws, may simply not “take” to you.  If you persist, demanding that the person adore you, you’re going to be in trouble. And you’re going to blame the other person, when really the problem is that you just can’t believe anyone wouldn’t want to spend every moment basking in your sunshine.  There’s a lot better chance of success if you back off, back down, and give the other person some space.

When Terry and I were dating, he did some very romantic things. But the longer I knew him, I realized that it wasn’t his comfort zone at all to do the hearts and flowers routine. He was much more comfortable when he could fix something, or help me do something that I was having trouble with. He’s still that way, and I learned to change my expectations about what was romantic.  Every now and then, he astonishes me with the unexpected, like the other week when he brought me a bag of Dove Dark Chocolates. May not seem like a big deal if your guy showers you with flowers, candy, jewelry, etc., but for me?  Very big deal, indeed.

How about personal achievement, either yours or that of someone close to you?  Shouldn’t you raise the bar very high?

I don’t know.  What are you innate abilities?  Were you born a rocket scientist, rattling off equations and scientific data with your first breath?  No?  Well, then, you would be foolish to believe you should be right up there with Einstein and all his buddies. However, if you show a keen interest in some–or all– sports, and you can outrun, out-throw, out-wrestle, out-do every kid on the block, then maybe you should push yourself to improve and achieve great things in that arena.  Maybe the Olympics are in your future. It’s great to dream, as long as the  desire and the ability are commensurate with the dream.

For years, I wished I had a rich, mellow, high soprano voice. Dreamed about it. Tried to sing all the high notes.   But as I grew up, it became clear that my natural place in the choir was with the second altos, and I learned to love to harmonize. In fact, it came so naturally to me that other kids my age had no idea what I was doing and looked at me funny when I dropped into a harmony part. My expectations changed, and I’ve enjoyed hundreds of opportunities to sing alto in duets, trios, and other ensembles for many years, even including doing low-voice solo work. I still envy those who can soar up into the stratosphere and sound wonderful doing so, but that’s just not my gift. If I hadn’t lowered my expectations–no pun intended–I would be disappointed and unhappy, probably blaming all those people who didn’t recognize my talent 🙂

Bottom line:  If you’re a fish, don’t try to climb trees.  If you’re a bird,  don’t expect to run in the Preakness.  Well, unless you’re a Roadrunner. If you’re a math genius, find work that fulfills your passion. Don’t try to be a romance novelist. It’s probably not a good fit.

If you insist that everyone who knows you MUST adore you, please consider reducing that expectation. Your family and friends will like you a whole lot better.



6 thoughts on “Raise/Lower the Bar

  1. Pingback: Expectation – Daily Prompt | Ladyleemanila

    1. Mana, I had my surgery on Jan. 10. I went back to work last week, and I’m easing back in slowly, not filling up my schedule completely. So far, it’s going well. Thanks so much for asking 🙂


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