When it comes to navigating life as a young adult it can be hard to overcome expectations. Expectations at this age have a range of factors. Whether pressures come from the need to make your parents proud, to do well in school or succeed at extracurricular activities – there can be a lot of pressure at this time of your life.

Navigating these years can be a tricky time as it seems to be portrayed as the only period of time in which we can develop our identities, dreams and desires. Taking away this pressure from our young adult lives can be an immense shift for our mental health. In doing so, we can acknowledge that our identities will constantly be in shift over the course of our lives, and that is okay.

In this blog, we cover ways to overcome expectations as a young adult. After all, it is the stage of your life where you typically have the most freedom to explore your identity. 

5 ways to overcome expectations

1. Do what you love, ignore the judgement

Try to remember that you are only given one life, and it’s your own life. Although constructive opinion can be helpful when you need guidance, try not to take judgement or criticisms too seriously. Follow your gut instinct and what you believe in.

2. Be guided by internal motivation

Try to follow internal motivation not external. Ask yourself: What are you passionate about? What makes you feel excited? What are you good at? What provides you with a sense of purpose? What fills you up?

Try to avoid following external motivations such as getting a certain grade, job or pay rise as this can often only be a short-time fix or gratification.

If you can aim to be consistently guided by your own internal compass rather than fall into the trap of external motivations, you might notice a big shift in your mental health and perspective. 

3. Focus on things you can control 

Try to focus on things that you can control such as your attitude, how you treat others and the effort you put into achieving goals and aspirations. 

When hurdles are thrown your way which are out of your control, it can be helpful to adopt this mindset to get through them and focus on the controllables. 

4. Avoid comparisons 

Research indicates that 80% of us check our mobile phones within the first 15 minutes of waking up. If you think logically about how consuming social media content that highlights other people’s lives, it makes sense that it affects our mood and mental state for the day.

Try to switch to only follow accounts that inspire and uplift you, rather than make you feel guilty or resentful. Depending on what you consume, social media can have a positive effect on our mental health and feeling connected and inspired. This would all depend on the amount, time of day and type of content.

Online comparison also brings about an overwhelming sense of expectations to follow a certain life or do things in a certain order. Try to remember that everyone is a completely unique person with different lives.

5. Set your own expectations that are fluid

Although trying to fit in line with others’ expectations can cause pressure, setting your own realistic expectations can be a great way to have a vision for your life and future. 

When creating expectations it can be helpful to visualise where you currently are and decide how that differs from where you’d like to be. From here you can slowly find ways to reach your goals without feeling like they are set in stone if you later decide you don’t want the same thing.

Try writing down your goals or creating a physical vision board! Research shows that writing down your goals or placing cues in places you regularly look at can increase the chance of achieving that goal by 42%.

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