You probably didn’t know this, but I played badminton religiously in high school. I was fairly decent. I had a few MVP awards, was mentioned in the local newspapers a few times, and my name is in the McDonald’s Lakewood Youth Hall of Fame.
I won’t say none of that matters. It all actually matters a lot to me.
However, in retrospect, I realized that there was a problem with my goals. In the three years I played badminton, they were generally set by the expectations of my coaches rather than myself. It wasn’t a bad thing–at least not at the time. Their expectations were high and I was driven by competition. By competing and playing my hardest, I was meeting their expectations. It made perfect sense.
I remember the first day of practice. I was a sophomore in high school. We didn’t have physical practice. Instead, we sat in a classroom and went over sports policies and shared our goals for the year. I stated my own personal goal: “I’m going to play on varsity this year.”
Imagine being the new kid, walking into the gym and saying you’re doing to be the be one of the best players in a few months. There were snickers from the returning players. The coach chuckled. “We’ll see about that.” The only expectations of me were the ones I had. Those were the only expectations I had to meet.
I ended up playing junior varsity that first year. But, I was subbing into varsity halfway into the season. By the end of the season, I was giving the varsity team hell during practice. My ego helped me out a bit. After playing for three years, I won first place in the league.
Great, so what?
I was on a run one night and decided to reflect on my short-lived badminton career. I realized that once I had achieved my first goal of playing varsity, my goals, although ambitious, became largely set by my coaches. I didn’t know what to expect after I had achieved my own goal, so I let my coaches set the standard of what I should expect of myself.
Imagine if you led your life based on the expectations other people had set for you. Would you be doing something you enjoy?
I would personally be stuck doing something I don’t like. During my moment of reflection, I began to wonder, what if four years ago I had set my own goals and set them above the expectations of my coaches?
What if I had my eyes set on the state championships? Nationals? Would I have achieved more than just the league championship?
Granted it took a lot of work to meet the expectations my coaches had set for me, but how much harder would I have worked if I set my own goals further? I actually got second place in the unofficial state tournament. I didn’t deserve first place. I wasn’t motivated in that final game. I already won league championships like my coaches wanted me to. I was satisfied.
Living up to the wrong expectations
Looking at my life now, it wouldn’t be the best idea to let the expectations of someone else define my life goals. That there are still people setting their own expectations of me and letting me know that what I’m doing is not what they expected. I acknowledge that.
However it’s a good thing I’ve learned to set my own expectations for myself and work towards living them out. In high school, the expectations of those older and more experienced than me guided me and helped me realize what I’m capable of.
You will need direction and guidance when you first start out in something new. Don’t expect to be able to do everything on your own. You will need help from others. You will need to be told where to go and what to do and what to expect of yourself. You have to realize though, that once that person lets go of your hand, what you do and work to achieve is up to you.
Eventually, you will have to set your own expectations for yourself.
It isn’t a matter of what goals you have in life. It’s a matter of what you expect of yourself. In some cases, the expectations others have of you may be lower than the ones you have of yourself. Make sure you’re living up to the right expectations–yours.
What expectations do you have of yourself? Have you had to tear away from the expectations of others to pursue your own? Let us know in the comments!
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