Expectation vs. Reality: Self-Care

Welcome to the newest series within the You First blog: Expectation vs. Reality! In this series of posts, I’ll break down the expectations we set for ourselves with various areas of our life (self-care, fitness, happiness, etc.), the reality that actually occurs, and how to accept that reality.

When I was putting together my vision board for 2019, I included the words Expectation vs. Reality on the board. If you’re familiar with Cosmopolitan Magazine, you know they do a monthly feature in photos of Expectation vs. Reality. That’s where I found the phrase. It stuck with me because my expectations are often very different than the reality.

Expectation – Living a Healthy Lifestyle

When I was working on goal-setting, I broke the large goal, Living a healthy lifestyle, down into smaller tasks that would help me achieve the goal:

  • Work out 3-5 times per week
  • Make healthy choices
  • Avoid eating out more than once per week
  • Walk 30 minutes daily
  • Get at least 8 hours of sleep nightly
  • Drink at least 80 oz. of water per day

All of these things are essential to achieving the goal of living a healthy lifestyle. They are specific. They are time-oriented. They are measurable. I’ve outlined the expectations for myself. I know what I need to do to be successful.


What we fail to understand or account for is external factors that can impact how we reach our goals. The reality is that when my work life gets busy, some of these things just do not happen for me. Part of it is due to timing. If I have to work late, I miss my gym sesh. I’m part of a gym that does evening classes and the classes I like the most occur earlier rather than later. I’m an early bird (thank you, dogs!) so I’m usually up by 5:30 AM on a weekday. I try to make the most of my mornings by walking my dogs, meditating, journaling, and reading. I complete these tasks in the morning so that when I get home from the gym, I can make sure I do what I need to do to get to bed on time.

There are late nights due to commitments with friends. I’m very focused on improving my expertise in my career and I spend a lot of time outside the office doing networking events and attending workshops. I’m also committed to this blog and growing my followers. And the reality is that sometimes “all the things” happen in one day, or even one week and I have to make choices.

Instead of talking down to myself, I do my best to stay positive. Some months of the year are busier than others at work, so I know that my lifestyle won’t be as healthy as I’d like it to be. I have to remind myself I am doing the best that I can and continue to push myself to do better. I can accept that although they might not be the best choices (Chick-Fila, missing a workout, getting to bed at 11:30), those are the choices I made to fulfill another obligation in my life that is also important to me (family, friends, work).

It’s important to adjust my expectations based on the reality I’m currently in. The seesaw of life does not always stay perfectly balanced. But as many times as I fall off, I always get back on and try again.

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