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table overwhelmed with thanksgiving turkey and food

Read this if you're struggling with expectations

less stress positive impact productivity Nov 20, 2020

The Jolly Zoo is celebrating Thanksgiving today with a Cracker Barrel feast-in-a-box. I’m pretty sure that’s not what they call it, but that’s basically what it is.

The steps to enjoy a feast-in-a-box are:

  1. Order the feast-in-a-box online.
  2. Drive to Cracker Barrel and pick up box.
  3. Drive home.
  4. Put everything in the oven (after removing packaging… duh.)
  5. Accept begrudging thanks from Teenage Son for providing a “big meal with a lot of choices.”

You see at Easter, Teen Son asked for a “big meal with a lot of choices.” Past Mel got all fired up and made a bunch of stuff including homemade yeast rolls and cinnamon rolls.

Then, Past Mel was grumpy and exhausted when it was finally time to eat.

That was about the 3rd time Past Mel had attempted a we’re-not-going-anywhere-so-I’ll-make-a-giant-feast and ended up tired and grumpy and generally unpleasant to be around.

You see… I don’t like cooking. I CAN cook and do a pretty good job, but I don’t enjoy it.

So what’s changed this year? I’ve finally learned an important lesson…

Just because you’re GOOD at something doesn’t mean you have to do it.

Which is combined with the equally important lesson…

Just because someone EXPECTS you do to do it, doesn’t mean you have to do it.

It’s so easy to succumb to expectations, whether they come from Past {{first_name}} (“I’ve always done it this way.”) or Past Other People. I mean, we’re basically surrounded by expectations all the time, but the important thing to remember is this:

You get to choose how you respond to expectations.

I know we’ve talked about this before, but let me remind you… most of what you do is a choice based on the consequences you’re seeking.

Going to the job you hate? You’re doing it because you prefer the consequences of making money, meeting expectations, living with the “devil you know” instead of trying to get a different job, or possibly something else. But you’re still choosing those consequences rather than the consequences of getting fired, letting people down, not having an income, etc.

Do you see my point?

When it comes to expectations, you have a choice. You can choose meet them or not.

You know what this means?


Freedom to order a feast-in-a-box. Freedom to participate in an event or not. Freedom to ask yourself:

Why am I doing this? What consequences am I choosing?

Sometimes the consequences are enjoyable like, “I’m going to choose not to cook so can hang out with my family and be fun instead of grumpy.”

Sometimes the consequences are less fun like, “I don’t really want to do this thing, but it will make my mom happy and I like seeing her happy, so I guess I want to do it for her.”


Look at the things on your to-do list for the coming week. Ask yourself why you’re doing each of the items and actively identify the consequences. I recommend you actually notate these things on your list or in a journal until you get in the habit of doing it mentally.

Like this:

  • Go to work so I can make money for my family.
  • Clean the house so I can think straight and not have to stare at dog hair floating around.
  • Bake a pie because I really like baking and it will bring joy to my household.

Got it?

High Fives!


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