Ever since the 7th grade I’ve had high expectations to be somebody because I didn’t want to be nobody. There was one family friend I grew up with who was in perennial trouble. He was three years older than me and someone I looked up to for advice. He was a brilliant guy who got straight A’s in every subject. When I discovered he got kicked out of school for smoking a little too much weed and dropping a tab too much acid, I began to reconsider my own mediocre ways To fail due to a lack of effort is foolish because hard work requires no skill. I’ve never been physically or mentally gifted, but I also knew that plenty of people before me with mediocre talents have gone on to lead comfortable lives. And so I tried and tried and tried to make the best use of what I had. The wins have outpaced the losses so far and here I am wondering what’s next.


There are concrete expectations and then there are nebulous expectations. Some have expectations to have a certain amount of money by age 40. I never had any specific monetary expectations surprisingly enough, but I did have an expectation of “being somebody” by the age of 30. For my guy friends and I, we either had to have “made it” by 30 or be on the right path to making it, whatever our definition of making it might be. In the course of trying to make it by 30, I probably sacrificed a little too much for 8 years after college. But now that I’m in my mid-30s, I look back upon my sacrifice and think it was well worth it. The question I now have is whether I will look back upon my 30s when I’m in my 40s and think the same thing? Only time will tell.

My problem ever since I was a kid was a recognition of when good enough is good enough. I often didn’t bother putting the extra effort to go from being in the top 80% to the top 100%. If the Pareto principle states that 80% of the result is due to 20% of your effort, why bother trying so much harder? My mother has told me time and time again that her only expectation is for me to be happy. Sounds simple enough. But what if I’m not happy? Will I have failed her expectations? I think what she really means is that all she can hope for is happiness for her children. Happiness is such a curious term since it’s so hard to define. Perhaps the best definition of happiness is to be able to smile when nobody is looking. I discovered bliss one day after realizing my jaw muscles were sore and my gums were frozen after smiling all the way down a 2,000 foot vertical drop up in Tahoe. Such simple things in life.


If you expect to be a seven figure blogger, a concert musician, or a world class athlete, chances are high you will fail. At some point reality kicks away our hopes and dreams and bring us back down to mother earth. Perhaps the key to ultimate happiness is to set our bar low enough so that we can always hop over when we want. Low expectations might not be very challenging, but at least we’ll be able to succeed more often. Desire is the cause of suffering. The sooner we recognize this the better. Readers, how much do you expect of yourself? If you have high expectations, are you meeting up to your expectations? Do you think folks with average to low expectations are much happier on average?

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