Manage Your Expectations
Your Christmas might be a flawless, perfectly orchestrated string of holiday events. Your kids may be well-behaved all day. Presents might be received with the deepest gratitude for the sacrifices you made to provide. Lunch with your extended family could be void of questions about your relationship status and unsolicited advice about your parenting. This Christmas could be the most magical, most peaceful, most joyous one yet. It’s possible.
Or your Christmas may look more like mine did when the boys were younger. We had a noisy house with Nerf bullets flying through the air, bickering brothers not too eager to help with the clean up, and a long list of concerns to keep my stomach in knots. There was always something to needle my nerves—a burned breakfast casserole, grumpy kids who wanted to be anywhere but with family, or the nagging realization I had to pay for all of this holiday “fun.”
It’s possible your Christmas may be magical. Or it may be normal. If you want to experience more happiness this season, learn to manage your expectations. Save those high and unrealistic hopes for the made-for-TV movies. Perfection is an illusion.
Here are three ways to manage your expectations this season and get a boost of joy!
1. Expect some disappointments and adjust with flexibility. The holidays bring their share of surprises when family is involved. When events and experiences fail to measure up to your standards, learn to bend a little and relax. Trust God to work out all the details you can’t control.
2. Expect a few annoyances and adapt with a healthy perspective. You don’t always know what’s behind someone’s bad mood or behavior. Choose to give people the benefit of the doubt by not taking their words or actions too personally. Assume the best about the people you’re with, and decide beforehand to practice patience.
3. Expect a little stress and activate a heart of gratitude. It’s easy to fuss and complain when things don’t go as planned. Try keeping your mind focused on all that is good in your world. With gratitude and thanksgiving as your guideposts, you’ll be less likely to grumble your way through the season.
Remember these tips when you find yourself wishing the holiday season would come to a close. Breathe deep, and manage your expectations. Let people off the hook. Show some grace. Smile. There’s only One who will never fall short of our expectations. His name is Jesus.
“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.” — Romans 5:3-5