How To Prevent Yourself From Unintentionally Setting Low Expectations

We’re often told to set “realistic” expectations, but that mentality can limit what we can truly achieve.

As I worked my way up to being the owner of a growing staffing agency, I learned that the biggest challenge to getting what you deserve can be your own mindset.

We often don’t realize the excuses we make prevent us from achieving great success. Excuses comes in all forms, shapes and sizes, and rob us from productivity.

In business, it seems that we are taught to settle for less than we deserve. But it doesn’t start there: we often believe we’re capable of much less than we actually are.

The sources of these misconceptions vary, which can make it even more difficult to solve inaccurate mindsets and go out and get what we really deserve.

Hard Work Can Pay Off

If you grew up in an environment where you were told you wouldn’t amount to anything, you are not alone. Economic pressure can deeply affect parents too, and whether intentional or not, self-inflicted limitations tend to be a result.

If your whole early skill set is based around making ends meet, you might be less likely to dream big, both for yourself and your business.

Industries can be unkind as well: The perils of unemployment and “dead-end jobs” may keep us operating within the status quo. After all, it’s better to have your bases covered than to take a risk doing something that might prove to be more rewarding, right?

I was fortunate to grow up in a family that believes hard work and the right mindset will take you most of the way. But when I tried out for the local Boys & Girls Club basketball team when I was nine, I was cut. I was crushed. I thought for sure I would make it.

But my dad told me not to worry. This was a learning curve: I realized I needed to work harder, smarter and to challenge myself. Fast forward a few years, and I was getting recruited by the varsity high school coach when I was still in junior high.

Now, some people would’ve been crushed and given up after that initial rejection, but I took it for what it was.

I have seen great success – in my own life and at work – when people inspect these learned mindsets and then make a conscious decision to try something outside of those limitations. Didn’t go to college? That might not matter.

If you were told that you’d never be able to do something, try it anyway. Start small and build on your successes.

Take Control Over Outcomes

The “self-employment” trap can also negatively influence your mindset. What stands between you seeing yourself as self-employed and as a legitimate business owner, entrepreneur and trailblazer, is a handful of fairly straightforward paperwork.

Can you open a bank account? Can you navigate your local Secretary of State’s website and fill out a couple of forms? That is essentially all that separates what is essentially a freelance position from a legitimate business.

This is a problem that exists across industries: it’s about taking responsibility and control over outcomes. This may seem scary, but it’s a skill that can be learned.

This is not about setting yourself up for obligations that feel burdensome; it’s about making things happen, and discovering the freedom that evolves.

The biggest problem here is in one’s mindset. The distinction might appear subtle, but think about it: there is, perhaps, a stigma in these days of serial entrepreneurship and business startups making it big, seemingly at every turn.

To consider yourself self-employed robs you of some of the reward the immense effort you have applied entitles you to. You don’t have a boss. You are the boss.

The level of responsibility is up to you. If you work for someone else, they get to decide how responsible you are. For some, that’s truly more comfortable.

But for some others, it just makes better sense to be the one making those decisions. You get to decide what risks you take, and how you take them. You also get to decide how to own them when they succeed, or if they fail.

Getting What You Deserve

Working for what you deserve depends on whether you have the drive to pursue every avenue and discover what’s possible.

It depends on whether you have an itch that needs scratching that makes you want to show your high school graduating class, your cousins, and even complete strangers that what you’re working on is legitimate, valuable and world-changing.

And it depends, sometimes, on whether or not you have a real drive to reach the top.

Your potential is more than what you believe it is – even as you’re reading this. Your capabilities are likely worth 90 percent more than what you’re earning right now.

Make a game plan to get yourself there. Reflect on where you are right now. Consider what might happen if you believed you could achieve anything you can think of.

After you’ve done that, take a deep breath. You do deserve to achieve your dreams in business and in life.

By believing in this, you’ll discover you are absolutely worthy of success.


By Nicole Smart

Nicole Smartt is the owner of Star Staffing. She is the youngest recipient to be awarded the Forty Under 40 award, recognizing business leaders under the age of 40. Her book, From Receptionist to Boss: Real-Life Advice for Getting Ahead at Work, can be pre-ordered on her website at www.nicolesmartt.com.

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