Having Fewer Expectations Can Help You To Be Happier

Having Fewer Expectations Can Help You To Be Happier - Samantha Leith

Expectations can have a huge impact on your happiness.

Have you ever felt resentment towards a friend who hasn’t returned a dinner invite after you’ve hosted them for the last three catch-ups? Or have you ever dressed up and felt really, really great, just to have your partner say nothing? Or given really great advice to a friend, just to have them ignore you and carry on the path they were on? The trouble with these situations is that your expectations of how people and situations should be are causing you negative emotions and are getting in the way of you feeling great.

Expectations are a strong belief that something will happen or be the case. Not hoping or dreaming for something, but anticipating an outcome. When expectations aren’t met, especially when they involve other people, it’s an absolute killer. The expectations breed resentment and frustration and these ultimately impact your feelings. The only person suffering is you.

So which expectations do the most damage?

Wanting People to Like You

There is no use wanting people to like you. As the saying goes, you may be the greatest peach in the world, but some people simply don’t like peaches. Not everyone has to like you. It doesn’t mean you’ll be rude or unkind to them, but don’t spend your energy trying and expecting everyone to like you.

Wanting People to Change or Follow Your Suggestions

This expectation can cause much frustration and even resentment. Unless a choice impacts you directly, then it’s none of your business. If people were going to change then they already would have changed and for the most part, how people live their lives has nothing to do with you.

Let go of them, let go of the expectations. Give you advice freely and let people live their lives.

Wanting People to Know How You’re Feeling

This one is common in relationships. No one is a mind reader and you can’t expect people to know how you’re feeling. Use your words; don’t expect anyone to know your feelings.

Wanting People to Treat You Exactly How You Treat Them

This expectation so often is not met. The irony of this is that a lot of the time people are mirroring the way they see you treat yourself and then this is how they treat you.

So the next time you question why someone is treating you in a particular way, hold that mirror up to yourself and question whether you’re treating them better than you treat yourself. This can be powerful to acknowledge and change.


There are enormous benefits to having fewer expectations, especially when it comes to the people around you. Fewer expectations will improve your relationships with close family and friends and most importantly, with yourself. Other benefits include:

Living More in the Present

Fewer expectations will mean that you’ll no longer be perpetually wondering about what’s going to happen in the future. You’ll engage more with the here and now and live more in the present. You’ll also probably enjoy yourself more because you won’t always be expecting certain outcomes.

You Get Nice Surprises!

If you spend your time getting all dressed up and are complimented without the expectations of praise, it’s a lovely surprise and will probably make you feel better than flattery you expected.

No More Resentment or Frustration

Resentment is a poison that eats away at you and it’s easily created by unmet expectations. Constantly expecting people to behave in a certain way can cause resentment if they don’t fully meet your expectations. It can damage your relationships and ultimately make you feel bad.

Expecting people to change, behave in certain ways or even follow your advice can be frustrating. Changing your expectations means less frustration and won’t lead to resentment. It’s that simple!

A Sense of Peace

Fewer expectations protects you from a lot of negative emotions. In addition to resentment and frustration, you’ll no longer feel disappointed in people who don’t meet your expectations. This comes with a sense of peace, because you can freely support those that you care about without feeling negatively about whether they’re delivering what you expect.

Additionally, you’ll come from a peaceful place of knowing that the world doesn’t revolve around you. When we expect something of people or situations, you’re assuming that you should be at the center of their universe, because they should be doing the things you think, say or act, according to the rules you’ve set. You’re assuming your opinion is correct and should matter the most to them.

Letting go of all of this will give you a sense of peace. Your relationships will improve and you’ll enjoy moments more because there’s no pre-conceived pressure on them.

So, have a look at your life and ask yourself what you’re expecting from people and situations. Ask yourself what negative emotions stem from unmet expectations and especially examine closely how you’re being treated and whether that results from how you treat yourself. Ask, examine and then do the work to undo and reduce those expectations.

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The Importance Of A Mid-Year Audit

The importance of a mid-year audit    

Think back to New Year’s Day this year. Do you remember how you felt that day? Were you excited? Or a little hung over perhaps? Did you feel the potential that the day represents?

January 1st is a powerful representative of hope. It comes around every year without fail, marking a new beginning, the opportunity for change or growth and anything else that aligns with a fresh start.

Many of us make New Year’s goals and plans for the following year, which will help us to achieve overarching long-term changes. Be it career, health or finance, New Year’s is the time to start in a new direction.


So now it’s June. We’re half way through the year. How are those goals coming along? Have you thought about them much? What about your vision for the year? How is this year measuring up so far?

Every year around this time, I sit down and reassess my goals. I have 3-5 goals annually that may be business or personal. I also do a Wheel Of Life exercise and re-visit my vision for the year. More on this shortly, but first: goals.

Research shows that achieving goals can boost personal happiness and increase happiness. The flip side is that research also shows that habits and behaviours dictate the success of goal setting. That means that determination alone won’t allow you to achieve your goals.

A year is a long time and it’s easy to get sidetracked, so sitting down and dedicating some time to year means that when December hits, you won’t feel like a failure for not achieving your plans.

So, when June rolls around, I do my mid-year audit, which looks something like this:

  • Goal assessment
  • Vision check
  • Wheel of Life exercise
  • Actions


My first task is to I ask myself the following set of questions:

How have I progressed with my goals?

Am I on track to achieving what I wanted? Have I changed my mind completely about this goal or realized there’s a better way to go about achieving this goal?

Have I achieved any of my goals?

Maybe you’re a superstar who ticked off a goal in the first half of the year. If so, you should be really proud of yourself.

It also might be time to replace that goal with something else that you want to keep you motivated.

Why haven’t I progressed as far as I would like with my goals?

If you have gone completely off track even just aren’t as far along as you would like, mid-year is a great time to catch yourself. You may just need to implementing different habits, or changing up your actions completely.

You might need a new set of actions, a refined set of actions, or a total pivot to a new method to achieve this goal.

Are these still my goals for the year?

Guess what! You can change your mind. If these goals aren’t in line with you vision for the year anymore, or if things have changed, you can change your goals. If it’s not working for you anymore, put it to bed and start something else.


At the beginning of every year I set my vision for the year. Usually it’s a word and a vision of what I want my year to look and feel like.

First I want to make sure that any new goals, or new actions for those goals still fit with my vision for the year.

I also want to have a good think about the first half of year and decide whether it’s embodied my word and vision. It’s easy to become distracted and so now it the time to reign yourself in and reset.


The wheel of life exercise is a really great way to get an overview of the major categories of life: finances, business and career, physical environment, fun and recreation, personal growth, romance and sex, family and friends etc.

I do this exercise at the start of each year and I’ll do it again during my mid-year audit. It’s a great place to see whether you’re putting all of your focus in one or two areas and neglecting others and an opportunity to even your life up.

For example, maybe your health is right on track at the start of the year. The New Year motivated you to exercise more, eat healthier, drink less and that may drop off a little as the year goes on. If this isn’t in line with your vision for the year, then now is the time to reset your intention and get back to your healthy goals.


So, you’ve done your mid-year audit. You’ve identified which goals are on track and which are off the rails. You’ve refocused everything to align with your vision and you’ve established which aspects of life are out of whack according to your wheel of life.

Now what?

It’s time for action.

Decide what you need to do to get yourself where you want to be. If you’re not totally sure, you can do a little investigation first to establish what you have to work on.

The first place I start is with my diary. I colour-code my diary, so if I look back over the last six months and see it’s out of balance, maybe too much social or too much business, then I can easily see why my studies haven’t come as far as what I’ve wanted. The action here is easy. Less party, more study. I block out 3 nights a week for study for the rest of the year.

Maybe you need to call your gym and find out how often you’ve been going. You reckon it’s about 4 times per week, but your gym informs you it’s actually 2. No wonder you don’t feel ready for your marathon! So you set a reminder in your phone to pack your gym bag four nights a week and start a new savings account for a whole set of new gym gear once you’ve been going 4 times weekly for 3 months.

You don’t need to wait for the New Year to roll around again to reset your intention and start fresh on your goals. Get it done now.

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