Let’s start by being honest: we’re pretty damn lucky.
As women (and men) in developed countries (which I know you’re in if you’re reading this), we’re more fortunate than most.
For the most part, our time is our own.
We don’t have to walk three hours each way to fetch water from the well.
We don’t grind our own wheat to make flour.
A dishwasher cleans most our dishes. We have a washing machine to wash our clothes and dry it. Even our ovens are self-cleaning!
In the 1950’s, as this technology was developing, it was predicted that the average person in modern times would become bored. Experts believed that we would have as much time as royalty used to – can you imagine?! What would we do with all our time?!
Fast-forward 50-60 years and it seems we are busier than ever.
How did we go from hopes of becoming most time-abundant, (bored) generation - equal to royalty - to being one of the most overworked, stressed generations ever?
One word: Expectations.
Did you know the average (often working) married woman today spends more quality time with her children than the average (often stay-at-home) married women in the 1960’s did?
According to the University of Maryland’s analysis of Americans’ Use of Time Study, married moms in 1965 spent 1.5 hours per week interacting and playing with her children. By 2000, this number had risen to 3.3 hours.
And married fathers spend almost three times as much time on childcare now than they did in 1965, from 2.6 hours a week, to 6.5 hours in 2000.
To add to this, in the 1950’s, the average household had nearly 4 children per women while in 2007 this number was about 2.12 - and yet the total number of hours spent on childcare still increased.
Good Housekeeping magazine in the 1950’s and 1960’s gave advice on how to cut raisins, iron blankets, and keep kids out of the kitchen while doing Christmas baking.
Today, the purpose of Christmas baking is to entertain and engage children… and to taste-test along the way! (If you’re wondering the source of my data – and a fantastic book - check out 168 hours by Laura Vanderkam, p. 132-139).
So… what has changed?
While the expectations for our household cleaning have gone down, expectations around quality time with children have gone up.
Expectations for the number of hours you work has increased. (And it’s worth mentioning, it’s often about number of hours you’re visible at the office, not about how much actual work you’re doing).
Often, these expectations take over our minds without us even realizing. They might have started from childhood, or from feedback from a leader in our life.
It might be based on what has worked for you in the past. It might come from the culture of your community or workplace.
Expectations, in this sense, assume it’s the way things “have to be” or that there are things we “should do” or “must do”.
Here are some examples of expectations you might have:
- You hand make all your costumes for Halloween or children’s activitiesYou automatically clean your house every week
- You feel anxious when you haven’t returned texts/emails and social media messages within a few hours
- You force yourself to get 8 hours of sleep (but you actually feel better with only 7 – or need 9 to function your best)
- You must be the last one to leave the office… and the first one in in the morning
- You can only stay caught up with work by taking an hour or two on Sunday mornings to catch up
I’m not saying every (or any!) one of these is inherently “wrong” or “bad”.
The question is all about you: is the expectation serving you… or no longer serving you.
Let’s turn the spotlight on to you (because we want to make YOUR life better).
Here's how to release your expectations - and feel more like royalty - this week:
1) Ask yourself: "What are the expectations you (or society) has put on you that just aren’t working for you anymore?"
Start by reflecting to figure out which ones aren’t serving you. As you go through life this week, check in with yourself daily to see what parts of your life are stressful, challenging and unfulfilling. Take notes of your least favourite parts of the week – chances are, that’s where your expectations are out of alignment with what you truly want.
2) Ask: "Where have these expectations come from?"
Some of these expectations come from within. Some come from what we learned growing up, from friends and family. Some come from bosses, colleagues, teachers and mentors.
The problem is that often, we take on these expectations on ourselves, without really asking if they are true for us.
These expectations get placed on us – and then stick around, often far too long.
3) Figure out: What will it take to change these expectations?
To move forward, you need to reset those expectations with yourself and those around you. This might mean some difficult conversations. But you’ll probably be pleasantly surprised by how supportive those around you are when YOU come across as confident and happy in your decision.
4) Commit: What action will you take to align your expectations with the way you want to live your life?
Set up a support system and create opportunities and structures to let go of your expectations.
Find a seamstress for costumes and hire him/her today.
Sign up for a 5:00 yoga class, 3 days a week, so you’re forced to leave work on time.
Set a calendar reminder to wash your baseboards once every 6 months (or less). And don’t worry about it until the reminder comes up.
You are in control of your time. You have 168 hours, just like everyone else.
It’s what you do with that time that makes the difference.
When you change your expectations, you change the amount of time you “need” to spend on things. And that frees you up for the things you WANT to be doing!
Just to be extra clear: I’m not talking about settling.
I’m talking about lowering your expectations on the sh*t that doesn’t matter. The sh*t that stresses you. The sh*t you’re only doing because you think you have to.
I challenge you to change one expectation, this week.
Be gentler on yourself for the things that don’t matter (ironing your sheets anyone?!) to create time and space for those things that do matter (meditation, eating healthy food, date nights with your partner).
When you change your expectations, you will change your life. And it'll make you (almost like) royalty, just as predicted.
Proudly changing my expectation of helping everyone, every day…
Success Coach & Speaker
PS. Recently, I've had more and more people reaching out and asking me questions and for advice.
I love helping and am so happy people trust me. I'm honored people come to me as an expert in modern careers and how to have it all.
At the same time, it's become very time-consuming to provide one-on-one advice to everyone, in addition to the (awesome) support I provide to my clients. I'm getting several messages a day, from friends, contacts, and people around the world. The worst part? I know this is unsustainable - and I'm just not able to give the quality and level of advice I'd love to give to everyone who reaches out.
I've decided to try something new to connect, help and support you, while still keeping the majority of my time sacred for my paying clients and my creative pursuits.
I'm going to be doing a monthly 20-30 minute Facebook Live called "Pick Lisa's Brain" to answer any questions live on the FB Live call.
In my free "Pick Lisa's Brain" sessions, I'm not going to hold back. I'll be open, honest, and treat you as if you were a paying client. You’ll get tips, advice, and resources to help you create a meaningful career AND a fun-filled life!
I'll be doing my first "Pick Lisa's Brain" session TONIGHT, Wednesday, March 22nd at 6:30 pm PST. If you want to join in, you can find me on my Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/lisamichaudcoach/.
Give my page a “like” and you’ll get a notification when I go live. And if you can’t make it live, you can check out the video afterward, right on my Facebook page.
My intention is to give better support to all of you, my amazing clients, and my own creativity.
Thanks for allowing me to try something new. To play. To experiment. And have fun!