Recently, out of a coaching session I had with my own coach, I was asked to write down all the expectations I have of myself. I am a bit of a perfectionist, and this tends to come up time and again. I put off the assignment for several days, but knowing my coach would ask me about it, I sat down to get it done.

1. I am ahead of the game at all times: prepared, focused and on time
2. All my to dos get done prior to or on the day I schedule them to be completed
3. All phone calls and emails are returned within eight business hours
4. I am posting creative, interactive content on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter everyday
5. Inspiration comes to me when I schedule it
6. I work out at least five times a week and avoid and/or decline all tempting foods
7. I am always positive, cheerful and seeing the best in people
8. I spend my money wisely and conservatively – always
9. My home is clean, organized and well-stocked almost all of the time
10. I am available for all the people in my life because I’m a giver

This list did not take me long to compose, and I was shocked at how honest all the statements were. I really do expect myself to operate at this level, though I have never been present to them all at once before. They weave themselves in and out of my consciousness, appearing when they are relevant to the situation at hand. I also became aware of the emotional cost. I often feel overwhelmed, incapable, tired and anxious. I always feel that I am falling behind and am constantly pushing myself to fit more into my schedule. Not too surprising, I have a “crash weekend” every six weeks or so. This is when I wake up on Saturday morning feeling like a truck hit me. If I do laundry, grocery shop, shower and feed myself, I consider it a productive weekend.

The other part of my assignment was to play the devil’s advocate and view the expectations I had as unreasonable. I mulled those thoughts over for a while, and the wisdom in the middle revealed itself.

* All plans, at the moment they collide with reality – must change. Imperfect action is all that is required to keep things moving. This helped to alleviate the pressure around #’s 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 9 and 10.

* If I am wound up about the items just listed, then 4, 5, 7, 8, and 10 are a wish list at best. What I can focus on is learning from my experiences, adjusting plans as I go in response to changes.

* Trust that there are always more forces at work than those I generate, and they will create results beyond my expectations.

In reflecting on my own experience, as crazy as it sounds, I realized I am not alone. I often hear others expressing frustration that they cannot seem to stay caught up on everything they need to get done and lack their own free time as well. When I talk to them about shifting priorities or letting go of a particular task or habit, their figurative heels dig into the ground.

Our identities are wrapped up in our expectations. If we cannot do all we expect of ourselves then who are we? If we lower our expectations, will we become mediocre as a result? Expectations are emotionally charged and will take some delicate handling to uncover and diffuse.

Since doing the exercise above, I’ve gone back to a few of the foundational principles of my coaching training program through iPEC. When I am practicing these principles, I feel less pressure to perform and more freedom to be myself. Care to guess which gets me better results?

* There are no mistakes

We are always doing our best in every moment. When we are sick, our best looks like resting, drinking tea and eating chicken soup. We make decisions and take actions based on our mental, physical, emotional and spiritual state in any given moment. Whatever decision we make or action we take, in that moment, it was our best.

* The only constant is change

I cannot control all the variables; I can only dance with them. Knowing things will not go exactly as planned creates a little bit of adventure to my life. I wonder in the morning what unexpected occurrence is going to happen during that day. It instantly makes the day more interesting, regardless of what is squatting on my calendar.

* All experiences are opportunities for growth

I don’t need to be perfect; I just need to be open to learn. I’ll admit, sometimes the thought of not flawlessly executing a presentation, meeting, session, phone call or project drives me crazy. The reality: it’s never perfect. It’s not meant to be. If everything went exactly the way I wanted it to, life would not be as rich or fulfilling as it is. My challenges have always turned out to be stepping stones to something better than what I had planned. Learning curves are a beautiful thing.

* Life offers neither problems nor challenges, only opportunities

I decide if something is a problem or not. Really. It’s amazing what happens when you decide a challenge is not a problem. Try it sometime. It’s laughable how easily we shape our experience and many times make life harder than it need be. That is, laughable when you’re on the other side of the realization and are putting it to work. In the moment, maybe not so much.

* Life is a perfect adventure; a game that cannot be won or lost, only played

I love this one as I love to play.

Author's Bio: 

Jodi Flynn, owner of Luma Coaching, works with individuals and groups in the areas of professional growth, leadership development and life purpose. Utilizing her own background of rapid promotion, increased responsibilities and career transition she is able to guide her clients through challenging situations so that they are living optimally and ready for the next opportunity. She is a Certified Professional Coach (CPC) through the Institute of Professional Excellence in Coaching (iPEC) and is credentialed as an Associate Certified Coach (ACC) through the International Coach Federation (ICF). For more information on iPEC and the ICF visit, and, respectively. Ms. Flynn can be contacted directly at