Pressure is a Real Thing: Releasing Expectations Through Self Awareness

If you’re the growth-oriented, self-aware, hard-working entrepreneur I know you to be, you know one thing to be true: the pressure is real.

There’s pressure to earn more, do more, be more, reach more… the list goes on. These pressures come from both internal and external sources and can cause so much stress. And once you’re stressed out and feeling the weight of pressure, you’re likely to sleep worse, experience health problems, and burn out.

More than that, pressure can make you stray from your authentic vision and core self.

I talked about how entrepreneurs experience pressure in episode 19 of the Determined AF podcast. Take a listen to it, or read on hear to learn about where all this pressure comes from and how to cultivate self-awareness around expectations so you can experience more peace and purpose in your work and life.

Under Pressure: Where it All Comes From

There are many ways we experience pressure in our work and lives. Here are just a few common ones:

  • Work deadlines and timelines you have to meet.
  • Financial pressure to maintain a standard of living, save for the future, or pay off debt.
  • Maintaining strong and healthy relationships.
  • Expectations from both ourselves and other people.

I want to focus specifically on this last one—expectations.

This is such a big one for entrepreneurs and self-employed people because we have such big goals for our personal and professional lives.

But expectations cause so much pressure if you don’t get them in check by cultivating strong self-awareness.

I do think pressure is an unavoidable part of life. It depends on what season you’re in. External circumstances show up and suddenly you feel a lot of pressure—life is out of our control, really. Sometimes pressure may act as a motivating factor, but it needs to be a healthy dose, something manageable." – Jamie

Internal vs. External Expectations

But, first, what exactly is the difference between internal and external expectations? Here’s the breakdown:

  • External expectations are what’s placed on us by other people, society, or culture. This could include expectations from your family or friends about your career choices or societal expectations on who to date or marry.
  • Internal expectations are the demands and obligations we put on ourselves, often based on our own beliefs, values, or standards.

Knowing the difference between these two helps you identify the root cause of some of the pressure you are feeling. And, when you know the root cause, you can address it.

Take some time to reflect and develop self-awareness with these questions:

  • What’s important to me? If you feel like you’re going against your own beliefs and values, the pressure is likely from an external source.
  • What emotions do I feel when I go against an expectation? Guilt or shame are often associated with internal expectations, while resentment or anger is typical for external expectations.
  • What will happen if I don’t meet the expectation? Consider if the consequences are primarily related to your internal experience (i.e., feelings of guilt or shame) or if there’s a tangible outcome (i.e., loss of revenue or job).

Cultivating Self-Awareness to Release Pressure

Internal and external expectations can often be intertwined. So, it’s important to be aware of both and do the work to develop strong self-awareness about them.

Because here’s the thing. Even if these are internal expectations created from your imaginings and ideas, the way you feel about it—the pressure you experience—is very real.

So, to release those expectations and pressure, you need to figure out what’s real and what’s imagined. Here are some steps to take:

  • Identify the expectation: Is it related to your personal life, career, relationships, or health?
  • Evaluate the expectation: Is it objectively realistic and attainable? Is it something that you have control over?
  • Examine the source of the expectation: Is it based on societal norms, cultural beliefs, or personal experiences? Is it something that you've internalized over time?
  • Consider the consequences: Are they severe or mild? Will not meeting the expectation have a long-term impact on your life or just a short-term one?
  • Seek feedback: What do trusted friends, family, or mental health professionals say about these expectations?
  • Practice self-compassion: As you are developing self-awareness in this area, treat yourself with kindness and compassion.

To relieve the pressure and create more peace, you need to be honest with yourself and develop strong self-awareness in this area.

When you take time to do these things, you’re developing a better understanding of expectations in your life, which helps you manage pressure and live in alignment with your core self, goals, and values.

If this is resonating with you as a successful, self-aware, and growth-minded entrepreneur, I know you’ll love listening to the whole episode on the Determined AF podcast. And if you want to dive in deeper to one of the specific challenges you're facing and how to find your inner voice amongst the pressure, consider signing up for my Alignment Strategy Program. It's 8 weeks of individual coaching sessions to help you work through the awareness process to identify the blocks and your authentic needs and vision to break free from that pressure to create an aligned plan that is right for you.

In order for us to relieve some of this pressure and create more peace in our situation, it requires us to take these steps, it requires us to be honest with ourselves. It requires self-reflection and evaluating the expectation objectively, examining the source, considering those consequences, sometimes seeking help and feedback, and practicing grace and self-compassion. When we take time to do these things, we can develop a better understanding of our expectations and make adjustments to ensure that they are realistic and supportive of our overall well-being and strategize a plan that is aligned with our values, our desires and our needs. A plan that is aligned with our core self.” – Jamie Milam

Break free from the expectations,

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