We all know work isn’t always a great time. Whether it’s a toxic environment or simply being in the wrong role, sometimes a workplace is a bad fit. But it isn’t always outside factors to blame. Sometimes, the biggest culprit is our own expectations.
Not every job is a dream job, but you can make moves toward creating a better environment. Cultivating the right mindset and taking necessary steps are the key to setting the right expectations at work and can create a better environment for your mental health. If you’re looking to better manage your mindset at work, take the following advice to heart.
“Managing expectations at work involve understanding company culture and how best to create healthy boundaries that guide your association with your colleagues, leadership, and management.” –Andrew Langat, Highrise
Look for mutual goals
You may want a super high-paying job working toward exactly whatever your dream goal is, but that’s often unrealistic. We all have to make compromises in our work life, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find some meaning in your job. Instead of focusing on what you don’t like, find a way to focus on mutual goals with your organization.
Checkr states that the most engaged workers are the most productive and happy. While a good organization will find ways to reinforce the company’s culture and goals, you may need to find ways to connect with that message on your own. Find something about your work you can take pride in and try to focus on that.
Learn to communicate
One of the problems with expectations is that your expectations may vary differently from those of your co-workers or your managers, becoming a source of frustration and burnout. In order to avoid this, we must become better communicators to build an effective relationship based on respect and understanding.
“By introducing your expectations in the beginning stages of a professional relationship, you can help establish consistent guidelines.” –Indeed
Valerie Cantella says to not be afraid to overcommunicate. The more willing you are to open a dialogue, the easier it will be to find out what is and isn’t working. Valerie says to keep things SMART—specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. Remember to keep your desires realistic and be open to similar feedback from others.
“Here’s a tip: To REDUCE conflict when communicating with others, you need to communicate in their style, not yours. The more you understand how YOU navigate change and conflict, the easier it is to understand and adapt your behavior.” –Kathy Marcino
Some of us like to set clear goals and expectations for ourselves while others prefer to keep things fluid. Neither style is better than the other, but in both cases, flexibility is key. It’s good to be goal-driven, but being too rigid in your expectations can lead to unhappiness.
Checkr reminds us that there are different generations raised on different work priorities and that even where we work is a flexible matter. With so many variables, everyone has different needs and expectations. It’s important to remind yourself of this and to be flexible.
But set boundaries
But being flexible doesn’t mean being a pushover or only catering to others’ needs. Setting healthy boundaries at work is a good way to reduce stress and keep others’ expectations from overpowering your own.
If someone else’s expectations seem too high, you can always say no, reminds Emily May of Niagara Institute. Agreeing to too much can lead to burnout and resentment. Setting reasonable boundaries is never a bad thing, even if the prospect seems difficult. If saying no feels daunting, you can always ask clarifying questions or say that you’ll reevaluate once you finish other tasks on your plate.
Learn not to take things personally
A final reminder is not to take any setbacks or conflicts personally. You may feel that you’ve earned the right to lead a big project or land a big promotion but got passed over. It’s easy to get frustrated and let the experience cloud your expectations, but these things aren’t always personal. It’s good to be ambitious, but assuming everything will go your way or that you’ll soar up the corporate ladder is a good way to find yourself disappointed. Stay hungry, but recognize when your expectations are too high or unrealistic.
We can get wrapped up in our day-to-day work lives too much sometimes, but it is valuable to take some time to reflect on your expectations. Is your mindset toward your job healthy and realistic? Have you communicated with others in a respectful way so that your expectations are clear? Ask yourself these questions and follow the above advice and see if it can help you realign.