The Timeline: Managing Societal Expectations

Before the holidays, I noticed that I had several clients who seemed to be at the same place in terms of feeling like their life wasn’t going as it should be. I think the holidays and start of the New Year only heighten these feelings as I’ve noticed this to be a common theme throughout many sessions. Whether it be in regards to career, family, relationships or a combination of all three, it seems that many people have set timelines of where they should be and if they are not there, they are not happy. Where does this idea come from that we need to follow a certain path in order to be happy?
I think society as a whole and good old Hollywood has been so influential on suggesting that at a certain age (late 20’s early 30’s) we should have achieved certain things (finish school, get an awesome career, get a solid relationship, get married, buy a house and have 1.6 kids). Throw family expectations on top of this and it’s no wonder that many people who don’t fit this mold are stressed. How do we learn to live our life as we want and just be in the moment?
Step back for a moment and look at what YOU want. Do you really want to settle down with a partner and have kids or is that Aunt Edna putting pressure on you? Live for yourself, not for what others expect of you. If you genuinely want things in life that have not happened for you yet, then look at what you need to get there. If you are focusing on getting your career going, what do you need to do to have the job you want? If you want to get married and there is no partner in sight, maybe that means looking at alternative dating options. Check out last week’s blog on setting up SMART goals.
Lastly, take the pressure off -there is no script for life. Enjoy the journey and the here and now. If you focus on your overall well-being, things have a funny way of falling into place. Try not to compare yourself to others, but instead just focus on what is best for you.

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2 thoughts on “The Timeline: Managing Societal Expectations

  1. My issue is comparing myself to my younger sisters. I get frustrated when they own their own houses, have solid careers, and long term stable relationships and I am no where near that. I know I deal with mental illness and I shouldn’t compare myself but it’s difficult when it’s like middle sister is doing this and little sister is doing this and Marci, well you know…

  2. Hi Marci, thanks for the comment! I don’t think you’re being very fair to yourself. Regardless of whether or not you have mental health issues, your life path still may be very different from your sisters. Focus on yourself, your wellbeing and happiness. Don’t forget to take into consideration things you have done or accomplished that you feel good about. Also, are some of the things that your sisters have achieved things that you actually want (own a house, long term relationship) or are these things you just feel you should have because they do?

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