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Realistic Expectations

How often do you feel frustrated or overwhelmed when you don’t get through your long task list? Or can’t keep up with a tsunami of incoming email? Or don’t make much progress on your big project because you are constantly putting out fires and getting distracted? 

Wish List 

Let’s start with your task list. As you think about your priorities for the day, the things you already have scheduled on your calendar, and your energy level (yes, that matters), is your list realistic? Are you creating a true task list of priorities that can be accomplished, or a wish list…things you wish you had time to get done today, but know deep down will never actually happen. 

By reviewing your calendar and your priorities, you get a good sense of how much time is actually available to take care of the items on the list. Try starting your day with a list of things you know can be accomplished. You can always add more later in the day….or not! 

Experience Success 

Regardless of how much you accomplished, there is still a sense of failure that comes from looking at a list of things that didn’t get done. The biggest impact of a realistic task list is the feeling of success and satisfaction you have at the end of a busy day when you have checked off everything you planned to get done. 

When was the last time you checked off everything on your list for the day? If you haven’t experienced that feeling, imagine for a minute the joy that would come with knowing you are ‘done’. Our days tend to blend together in a blur of activity; getting to the end of the list gives you the chance to celebrate that you accomplished your goal. 

Simple Change 

We all have the best of intentions when creating our lists, but often create significant stress and frustration for ourselves simply by being unrealistic. There are only 24 hours in a day. You are not a machine that can work 24×7 with no rest or breaks, and life will happen. Kids will get sick, meetings will run over, traffic is inevitable. Give yourself a chance to experience the feeling of satisfaction and success by setting realistic expectations. 

Author: Becky Jacobs, Chief Engagement Officer

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