Do you ever find that your lifestyle changes but the expectations you have for your present life match the old lifestyle and not the new one? Let me give you a few examples: you have an extremely active social life and then you have a baby and are able to get out less. Or maybe you have a two income family and you go down to one income and therefore have to budget things a bit tighter.
Inevitably, your lifestyle will change at some point and it’s going to be really important for you to be able to manage your expectations in order to maintain your happiness.
In my own life, we recently underwent a few major lifestyle changes. The first change came in the form of my daughter Willow. After she was born, our lifestyle changed drastically. I wasn’t able to get out as often, some of the friends that I had prior to her birth dissipated and my own interest level in certain things (gaming, for example) was reduced or disappeared completely.
In the beginning, I was completely okay with it. I was in love with this new baby, I wanted to do nothing else except stare at her face and I just wanted the rest of the world to go away. I was in the ultimate honeymoon period with my little girl and nothing else mattered. However, as with all things, the honeymoon period began to fade and things were still as blissful but not quite as all-consuming. I started to mourn my “old life” something severe.
Another major lifestyle came when we went from a two income family to one. Now, this change happened because we decided that we wanted Willow raised by us 100% so Steve quit his job and came home to be a full-time dad. We thought about it for a very long time, made the decision and knew going into it that it meant a drop in income. I wasn’t worried about meeting the everyday expenses but I was worried about the change in lifestyle that would come along with watching a budget more tightly.
We are now in a position where we can pay the bills, afford luxuries like Starbucks most days but at the same time, it means that we may not be able to travel a couple of times per year and that we may need to purchase clothes for Willow second-hand rather than brand new and she may get fewer toys throughout the year. It’s about figuring out what is important, choosing our luxuries (because you need SOME luxuries in life!) and then being okay with the limitations you might come up against.
It’s difficult to avoid looking around at everyone else and being 100% okay with your own decisions and your current lifestyle. I know that I’ve looked at some of my friends without kids, who can travel on a whim and who have super nice cars, and I’ve thought, “Yeah, that was me and yeah, I miss that.” At the same time, I’ve learned to look at my life and realize all of the amazingly beautiful and awesome things and appreciate THAT instead.
Life really is about managing our expectations and pushing the reset button on them often. It’s about being 100% okay with where you’re at and not wishing for the things you just can’t have. I know I’m learning more and more of the importance of expectations and it’s making a huge difference in my outlook and thus in my happiness.
What tips do you have about managing your expectations?