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Managing expectations


In sport, like in life, managing our expectation is a huge part of reaching our own individual happiness and achieve our goals.

If not managed or reviewed over time expectations can easily pull us down and make us fall into a NEVER ENDING PIT OF SADNESS!!!! (nothing less).

Management of expectations essentially gives us a tool to overcome our emotions.

But what are expectations.

They come in all shapes and sizes, how can we know we have them, whether we created them or gained them from others? That’s when self-introspection is key and management of emotions comes into play.

Like a lot of us would agree, expectations is ”the pressure we put on our shoulders” towards specific performances, may it be in a target runs, family, school, work, relationships, society, etc.

  1. Expectation = Perception of how we think we should perform

  2. Perception determines our thoughts

  3. Thoughts lead to feeling

  4. Feeling lead to Actions

  5. Actions lead to results

Most often than not, we do not even realise how our environment affects our own personal expectations and instead blame ourselves for not being ”good enough”.A lot of runners carry the pressure to perform at a certain level to maintain the level people are used to see them at. I would be lying if I said that this pressure didn’t affect me at times! It’s only natural, especially in our age of technology where social media provide you with constant access to information from/on our peers.

As a runner, expectations can become harmful as your goals physically affect you. Competitive runners (who have high expectations towards themselves or in comparison to others) tend to get injured more often…a coincidence…I don’t think so!

Expectation management is essential for any athlete in the long-term.

Being perfect is an external motivation and pressure. The goal is to change those external expectations to find your true internal ones. What are Internal motivations? The only way to find out is through questioning:

  1. What pushes to run in the first place?

  2. What gets you up at 5am for a long-run?

  3. How does running make you feel?

The answers to those questions are your inner-expectations: things you want to achieve when going for a run and that are meaningful to YOU! Internal motivations is when mental strength kicks in.

External Expectations vs Internal Expectations

To put things into perspective and understand the whole concept better, let’s compare the two types of expectations with easy examples: External Motivation

  1. ”What will people think?”

  2. ”I need to write finish my time on social medias.”

  3. ” I need to impress my fellow runners”

  4. ” I need to beat my friend’s time”

  5. ” I need to finish in the TOP.”

  6. ” I can not be as slow as her/him.”

You get the idea…Now for Internal expectations.

Internal Expectations

  1. ”I am grateful to be able to run and be healthy.”

  2. ”I enjoy connecting with nature and going outside.”

  3. ”I like living for the moment and focusing solely on my breathing.”

  4. ”I like coming back home exhausted and satisfied.”

  5. ”I am glad I have done better than last time.”

  6. ”Today was a difficult run, I am happy i completed it.”

Having those examples in mind, we can now look into our own negative expectations and take the firsts steps towards changing them.

Actions to change External (negative) expectations to Internal (positive) expectations


  1. Start your reflection process.

  2. Define your limiting expectations by being true to yourself.

  3. List everything that worries you by writing them down.

  4. Determine from what external factor they come from.

  5. For each negative expectation, write down something you would prefer feeling instead.

  6. Use this list as a reference everytime you feel pressure from negative expectations.

  7. Repeat the process and refer to the list as often as possible to create winning mental thought processes.

  8. Enjoy the journey!

In conclusion

Expectations are not negative at their chore, what we make of them guides how they make us feel on a day to day basis. If you are interested in learning more about Mental strength and sport performances or simply if you wish to make the best out of your everyday, check out our Performance Coaching services where we help individuals reach their goals and achieve winning mental processes for success. Claim your FREE discovery session

– Veronique Bourbeau & Colombine Lord


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