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Raise Goals, Lower Expectations and Share Laughter

by John Mehrmann

There is a simple strategy for getting more out of life and getting more satisfaction on the journey to achieving your success.

Raise Your Goals

Pause for a moment to reflect on how much you have accomplished. The life that you are enjoying right now is something that may have seemed out of reach several years ago. Your friends and family are a result of the decision that you have made along the way. The career that you are developing is as much result of your efforts as it is a byproduct of the choices of others that you have opted to permit to guide your life. The only person who can fully appreciate the measure your success is you.

Sometimes there are sacrifices along the way. You may be the only person who recognizes the significance of personal sacrifices, and that is the way that it is meant to be. Sacrifices shape your character and build inner strength. The benefits to character and inner resolve can only be realized by the individual making the sacrifice, not by the onlookers. Challenging yourself to make sacrifices is to the soul like exercise is to the muscles of the body, you can not get the same results by watching someone else do it.

What do you consider to be your most significant successes? Success may include achievements that have been recognized by others as outstanding accomplishments. Such public success usually feels good and enhances a sense of pride. However, there are also personal successes that typically are not thought of as accomplishments. These are the successes that are typically most treasured, most dearly protected and most heartwarming. Genuine friendships, respect by peers and a cherished relationship with a spouse are the successful result of decisions and commitments that you make. The personal choices that you make can have the greatest significance in the success that you enjoy in life, so why is it so hard to acknowledge personal commitments as success?

What do you consider to be your most significant sacrifices? Typically the most significant sacrifices are also the most personal ones. How do these sacrifices relate to your successes? Did you sacrifices contribute to your personal success, or did your sacrifice contribute to the success of someone else? If you contributed to the success of someone else, do you also consider that to be a success for you as well?

Once you have a firm understanding of your successes and your sacrifices then it is time to reconsider your goals. Most people sell themselves short, meaning that they have lofty goals that they not expect to achieve and private goals that they are willing to accept. If you have two sets of goals, the success that you want and the mediocre plateau that you are willing to accept, then you have already dropped your goals and diminished your opportunities. Even if you can not attain all of your goals, you are capable of far greater achievement than your acceptable levels of satisfaction. Drop the minimum targets and begin planning your strategy to get what you came to this life for, become the fullest measure of the person that you are meant to be. The only way to find out what that is, is to start moving in that direction every single day. It may take time to develop. It may take months or years of patience, and it may require several changes to adapt your strategy as you learn and develop yourself along the path to your greatest personal successes. There will be sacrifices. There are always sacrifices that need to be made on the way to achieving your goals, but that is what makes them such satisfying victories.

Lower Your Expectations

As you raise your personal goals and make a commitment to yourself not to accept mediocre goals or minimum achievement, be conscientious of the community that surrounds you. It is highly unlikely that everyone around you will have the same passion or intensity that you do. It is even less likely that everyone else will have the same interest in your goals. Sharing your goals with other important people in your life will give them the opportunity to give you support and encouragement, but it does not mean that everyone you meet will feel the same way. Lower your expectations but recognize and appreciate the support that you do receive.

Do you feel that you have to live up to the expectations of other people? Do you believe that the expectations that you have for yourself are the same expectations that other people have for you? Do you feel that other people are justified in setting your expectations? If you want to establish your own personal expectations then you should also respect the expectations that other people set for themselves.

Try to avoid having any expectations when you encounter new people, new companies, new communities and new cultures. It is common to create expectations based on personal experience and that automatically limits the opportunity to fully appreciate the subtle nuances of the individuals that you meet. Your personal experiences have shaped your personal perspectives. When you meet someone new, and as you learn more about the people in your life, lower your expectations and open yourself to more awareness and appreciation. Expand your perspective by looking at things through the eyes of others, as opposed to limited your vision to the perspectives that you may otherwise be expecting. Expect less, learn more and absorb the new perspectives.

You may find that lowering your expectations creates better opportunities to enhance your appreciation and comprehension. This may give you more options to achieve your goals and occasionally may cause you to reconsider and adjust your goals.

Share Your Laughter

There is a shortage of laughter in the world. With all this talk about goals and sacrifices, expectations and appreciation, there is a level of intensity and pressure in the lives of adults that frequently causes a deterioration of the senses. We can become so focused on tasks that we lose sight of the world around us. When was the last time that you stared at the changing formations of clouds? We can become so attuned to what we want to listen to that we do not realize how much there is to hear. We listen to the words but do we hear the emotion and intent of the people speaking to us? We touch, but do we feel?

As intensity and pressure increase, the first primary sense that deteriorates in adulthood is the sense of humor. We forget to laugh at ourselves. We take ourselves too seriously and then we take everyone else too seriously. Coincidentally, the seriousness creates even more pressure and intensity, but there is a cure. The cure is laughter and a sense of humor. Once you begin to exercise your sense of humor then the other senses and sensibility begin to return.

Laughter is meant to be contagious. It is intended to be shared. It is a gift that you can give to others and in the process you are giving something back to yourself. Make it an integral part of the strategy to achieve your goals to include a healthy dose of laughter. If you have forgotten how to make other people laugh, begin by making them smile. Set a goal for yourself to see how many consecutive days that you can make someone else smile. Exercise your sense of humor regularly and it will give you momentum to achieve your goals.

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