Set Your OWN Expectations

Life Balance

Nora and Tim help you find balance when dealing with a stressful debt situation. Learn how to manage stress and enjoy travel without breaking the bank.

Set Your OWN Expectations

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Whose expectations are you trying to live up to?

The holidays are a great time to reflect on this, since so many people make this the season of excess: too much food and drink, too many parties, and too much spending on too many gifts.

 Let me suggest that you ought to be enough of a grown-up not to set your expectations according to:

  • * the cover of a magazine
  • * your parents
  • * the wants of a four-year-old child
  • * the Joneses

Each of us ought to set our own expectations in life and take pride in living up to them. If they happen to make us popular or help us to fit in, fine. But, if they don't, so what? If we have respect for ourselves and our own choices, we ought to set expectations that match up to our own priorities -- not the priorities foisted upon us by advertisers and social climbers.

Expect the Best

Now, if you agree with my take on this, you also shouldn't accept any expectations that I might put on you without checking them out against your own goals and values. But I will offer you some food for thought -- three themes to explore that may help you reshape your expectations in a positive way this holiday season.

Financial fitness. Wouldn't it be great if we made a commitment to financial fitness the new holiday tradition? For many people, Christmas gift-buying and travel is one of the top things that blow their budget for the year. I myself have seen families go over the top in ridiculous ways as they lavish one expensive gift after another on their young children. Far better is it to make happy memories together by sharing laughter and meaningful experiences. By no means do you have to give up the practice of buying gifts, but there's no good reason to break the bank to do it.

Physical fitness. Similarly, the holidays are the worst time of the year for many people who are trying to lose weight or otherwise improve their fitness. It's too easy to have "just one more" helping of turkey or slice of pie, and company break rooms across the nation are overstocked with candy from Halloween through New Year's. But what if, instead of making an empty promise to start your diet on January 1, you set a fitness goal that carried you right through the end of the year in style? Don't even make it about weight, is my advice: just commit to exercising five days per week, or on improving your time or distance walking, biking, or swimming.

Simplicity. Many of the people I know complain about being overwhelmed -- by work, by family commitments, even by e-mail. Yet we keep piling on more. The holidays can be particularly bad for this, since we're bombarded with more social invitations, more catalogs, more advertisements, and more distractions in general than at any other time of the year. But what would it be like if you dialed it back this year? What if you used the holidays to actually, you know, take a holiday from the daily grind? I'd say it's worth it to find out.

My expectations for this holiday season are to enjoy time with my family, to live healthy, and to move ahead on some of my key goals -- with a smile on my face as much as possible.

How about you?

PREVIOUS ARTICLES:

The Holiday Season is Upon us: Will You Let it Stress You Out This Year?

The relief of making fewer decisions

Doling Out the Candy -- or Not

Tim Walker

Tim is a writer, marketer, and social media pro in Austin. He joined CareOne's blogging team as a contributing writer for the Life Balance blog in 2009. As a blogger who has personally overcome debt challenges, he draws from his own experience to provide tips on living a balanced life and keeping fit. You can read more of his thoughts (on fitness and everything else) at his personal blog, What I've Learned So Far. Compensated CareOne Blogger

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