"Let your dreams outgrow the shoes of your expectations." Ryunosuke Satoro
When we live our lives chasing expectations, we close ourselves off to opportunities. My life did not follow a specific order; everything that happened felt surprisingly unexpected and even scary at times, but it left me open to what the world had to offer.
There's always a "path" that others set out before us...define your career by 27, get married before you're 30, have kids by 32...the ages differ depending on who you ask, but the message is the same: we should expect to achieve certain things by a certain time.
But where you are in life right now might not be where you expected to be. Is that such a bad thing? I don't think so. I believe happiness and fulfillment are all around us, we may just need a new way of looking at things.
"Remember that not getting what you want is sometimes a wonderful stroke of luck." Dalai Lama
I have been saying this phrase a lot lately: "No expectations, no limitations" and I must say I have never been happier in my life. It's a great mantra because it reminds me to stay open to possibilities and all the gifts that life has offered -- and continues to offer.
Arianna Huffington is an example of someone who let herself be open to new things. In this article about advice for 22-year-olds, she says that sometimes when we get what we want in life, we don't always feel the way we "should" because getting what we expect doesn't automatically lead to feelings of joy. This surprised her when she was 22, but makes sense to her now.
In her personal life, Arianna launched the Huffington Post after moving away from the UK because her then-partner, Bernard Levin, didn't want to marry her. It's a great example of how, sometimes, the things that DON'T work out the way we expect them to can lead us to the ones that DO. She was 54 when she launched the Huffington Post -- which means your life holds endless possibilities of success at varying times/stages of your life, not just when you are told you should expect them.
"My happiness grows in direct proportion to my acceptance, and in inverse proportion to my expectations." Michael J. Fox
Society puts this pressure on us to have to have our career path figured out by the time we are in our 30s. But, like Arianna, some of the most notable people have found success later in life: Julia Child published Mastering the Art of French Cooking when she was 50, Tim and Nina Zagat published their eponymous collection of restaurant reviews when they were 51, and Vera Wang didn't start designing wedding dresses until she was 40.
We can all work on letting go of expectations in our careers just as in our relationships. It's about keeping an open mind and staying true to our authentic self. Our soul knows what it really needs. We might meet someone who is good on paper or land our "dream" job, for example, but emotionally we feel empty. We set this expectation for ourselves that we SHOULD feel happy. But we don't. Then we meet someone completely unexpected or find ourselves in a new job that makes our heart happy and our soul fulfilled!
If we didn't let go of what we thought was expected of us, then we wouldn't be open to serendipity like this.
"The minute I heard my first love story, I started looking for you, not knowing how blind that was. Lovers don't finally meet somewhere. They're in each other all along." Rumi
It's important to note that having no expectations is not the same as having no vested interest in how your life turns out. I listened to an interesting TED Talk called "How We Find Love," which features a woman who made an incredibly detailed spreadsheet to filter men on a dating site and find her ideal mate. Making a list of what you are looking for in love can be helpful -- your lists will change over the years but you'll be surprised how effective they can be. Like they say, you can't find what you're looking for until you KNOW what you're looking for.
Some people call these a Soul Mate Wish List, and there are many articles that tell you how successful they are.
It's not about narrowing yourself down by being limited to a list; it's about taking a certain level of control in your life. You can still be open to possibilities and live without expectations while being self-aware enough to know what you want.
Checking things off a list should be a tool we use in addition to being true to our core feelings. When we approach our relationships with expectations at the forefront, we are living externally; instead we should look within for the answers. In our gut we know if something is right for us.
"You can't base your life on other people's expectations." Stevie Wonder
Taking the pressure of expectations away allows for more positive energy to surround us, which will help achieve more favorable results in life.
So, how can we focus less on the things we SHOULD be doing and more on the things we COULD be doing, whether in love or career?
We can let go of our preconceived notions about who we "should" be with or what we "should" be doing with our lives by asking ourselves what we truly want and remaining open to what may come. This way, we release the limitations that could otherwise hold us back.
Jodi Picoult wrote, "We never fall for the person we're supposed to," and I believe this is also true for the career we fall into. Sometimes the things that surprise us also delight us most of all.
No expectations...no limitations. That's the best way to find love and a fulfilled life. Wouldn't you agree? :)
Tweet me @NatashaNKPR or leave your comments below!
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