Expectations are a thousand little diseases that sit right underneath the skin. They crawl through every vein, up the arms, into the neck, and slowly seep into the brain.
They color everything we do, how hard we work, how we evaluate our days. Expectations shape our goals and are the first things to lend their opinions when we ask, "How is my life going?"
I'm not working hard enough. This day is going poorly. I've wasted the past ten years.
Sure, high expectations can be fuel...but mostly they make us miserable. Nothing is ever good enough. Everything is disappointing. There's no reflection on a job well done because the job could have been done better. We're unaware of what's working because we're trying to stop all the things that aren't.
I don't know the answer to this toxic level of high expectations because it's one of my biggest struggles. But I keep thinking something Seth Godin wrote, "Simply do the work."
For example, when I e-mail a proposal to a potential client, it's just sending an e-mail. Not a "OMG MY LIFE WILL BE 1000000 TIMES BETTER IF THEY SAY AGREE TO THIS" or "MY BUSINESS WILL CRUMBLE AND MY LIFE WILL BE SHATTERED IF THEY SAY NO".
A better approach would be Zen and the Art of Working Hard. When I take a picture, a video, write an article, make a post on social media, have a conference call, write a contract, create a proposal, build a thing, or ship an item, I want to do those things well. But there's a great benefit to looking at those acts as individual, mechanical skills.
High expectations are typically wrapped up in so much emotional baggage that it's hard to make good decisions, and ultimately, do good work.
Grab the shovel, dig the best you can, set it down, and do it again tomorrow.